How Unrealistic Beauty Standards on Social Media Affect Girls

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Teenagers are affected by social media everyday by posting pictures and worrying about what other people are thinking. According to Mahita Gajanan from 'The Guardian' did a study and asked girls about their self-esteem and experiences with social media. Most of the girls that were interviewed felt insecure. Many girls reported obsessing over the number of “likes” they were getting and feared not looking beautiful in their photos. How girls view themselves and view others on social media can lead to body dissatisfaction and eating disorders. However, to this day, research findings have been mixed, and the exact relationship between social media behavior and body dissatisfaction is unclear. Though it is unclear if there is a relationship with body dissatisfaction, research shows that there are unrealistic beauty standards on social media, and this essay explores how social media does affect how girls view themselves and if they view themselves as beautiful or not. 

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Exploring Beauty Standards in Social Media World

The push to be traditionally “beautiful” has many teenage girls wanting to look like unrealistic beauty standards on social media and can lead to body dissatisfaction and other dangerous standards. According to a new study conducted by Ilyssa Salomon, a doctoral student and Christia Spears Brown, a professor of Psychology at the University of Kentucky developed a study called, “The Selfie Generation: Examining the Relationship Between Social Media Use and Early Adolescent Body Image.” Brown reports that “Research shows that the majority of girls in middle school are unhappy with their bodies. And yet we also know they spend everyday looking at highly sexualized, highly curated pictures of other people on social media.” So by the time girls are 13 or even younger, girls are already comparing themselves and thinking that they are not beautiful. Also in a survey by Common Sense Media called “Children, Teens, Media, and Body Image, found that many teens who are active online worry about how they are perceived. Some of the statistics showed that “35% are worried about people tagging them in unattractive photos, 27% feel stressed about how they look in posted photos, 22% felt bad about themselves if their photos were ignored, 41% of survey takers admit to using social media to make themselves look “cooler.” The statistics basically show that teens are just worried about what other people will think and how they look on social media. The Florida House Experience did a study on body image and according to a graph they made, 88% of women said they compare themselves to images in the media and half of them said the comparison is unfavorable. Social media makes it easier for girls to compare themselves and allows teens to think that they need approval for their appearance to look beautiful.

Beauty has many definitions, everyone's definition of beauty is different. According to the BBC documentary “The Human Face” scientists believe that there are certain rules to being beautiful. There is a specific beauty pattern that they believe works which is symmetry. An italian figured out that the key to beauty was the ratio 1:1.618, his ratio works with your whole body but only if you are considered “beautiful. If girls don’t think they are beautiful then they are going to resort to other measures such as photoshop. Nowadays girls want to have an hourglass figure. The hourglass figure is becoming more popular and is flooding TV and social media. Teenage girls are seeing this figure as beautiful and comparing themselves to other girls. If girls don’t think their bodies are beautiful than they are going to resort to other measures such as photoshop. Photoshop can and does affect how girls feel about their bodies by making them think there is a perfect body type that must be achieved. According to Alanna Vagianos, the women’s editor of The Huffington Post, a survey was conducted and it showed that, “Fifteen percent of 18 to 24-year-olds surveyed, were convinced that the images of models and celebrities in advertisements, magazines and billboards accurately depict what these women look like in real life. Teenage girls who see photoshopped images in the media can be influenced by the images so they try to look like the model and that can make their self-esteem lower. Celebrities such as the Kardashian and Jenner family have been shown to use photoshop and influence this on girls.

In the article “Does Beauty Drive Economic Success,” Adam Alter claims that beauty does affect economic success. The kardashian and Jenner family prove that. The family had been known for their beauty. They are also known for shaping their faces and bodies into what society thinks is beautiful. Such as the hourglass figure. Whether it’s getting plastic surgery or photoshop, they are always changing their faces and bodies. Specifically Kylie jenner has gotten her lips filled, Butt implants, boob job and waist training. She did all of this just to make herself look more attractive. This makes teens question their own bodies and makes them question if they fit into what society thinks is beautiful. Kylie is one of the most followed people on social media today, meaning she has a very wide influence, and a large following of teenage girls. She also has beauty company and many teenage girls buy her makeup and look up to her. There is a picture on the Kylie Jenner's Instagram of her, Kourtney Kardashian and Khloe Kardashian in waist trainers. This picture was posted on Kylie's Instagram and was a paid ad for Kylie makes around $1 million per paid Instagram post and many people such as teenage girls see her posts. In the posts caption it says “posted up with my babes getting our waists right.” This caption is influencing that this how our bodies should be and this is what is considered beautiful. This is not what people should be influencing on teenage girls.

To end up, we need to start showing girls that it’s okay if your body doesn’t look like pictures on social media. We need to show more body positivity. Aerie has started a campaign called #AerieREAL to combat body image issues. Aerie’s message is all about loving the real you. That’s what we should be influencing girls instead of waist trainers.  

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