August 20, 2022

Social Media’s Role in Body Image

By: Abigail Fritz

Social Media is the home of constantly comparing every aspect of our lives to other people. From where we live, what possessions we have, relationships we’re in, and especially our bodies. 

Body Image is the perception that a person has of their physical self and the feelings that take place after that perception. These type of feelings can either be negative or positive towards oneself. Social media and the amount of time you spend on social media may impact how you view your body.

An American study surveyed about 227 female college students and found that those who spend more time on social media such as Instagram and Facebook feel more distressed about their own bodies due to more comparison.

When people start comparing their bodies to other possible photoshopped unrealistic photos, this can lead to many negative mental health effects. With unhealthy mental health habits, this can be a slippery slope and can lead to health risks. According to the AAC center, an eating disorder center in Chicago mentioned that 30-50% of teen patients mentioned social media as the cause of their eating disorder.

A  healthcare institution called Florida House Experience created a study that found that 87% of women and 65% of men compare their bodies to images they view on social media. With that information, 50% of women and 37% of men compare their videos unfavorably. 

Now that we have discussed the fact this is an issue let’s talk about solutions we can all partake in.

Helpful Tips

  • Follow accounts that promote healthy lifestyles and make sure they have credibility.
  • Turn off your phone and go outside and be active.
  • Don’t feel guilty unfollowing someone who doesn’t serve you. 
  • Speak positive about your body and avoid speaking negatively about yourself. 

An app called Tik Tok has created an atmosphere of no boundaries on topics of conversation. One example I keep seeing over and over is when they do a comparison video of Instagram vs reality. These videos tend to go viral and the comments are filled with admiration for the creator of the video. 

As a society and a culture, we are on the way up to confronting negative body image and unrealistic body expectations. Our generation has no problem calling upon celebrities and any influencer who promotes highly edited photos and unrealistic body expectations. Our generation has lots to say and we just need to work on how we say it. 

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9 thoughts on “Social Media’s Role in Body Image

  1. I love this post and the suggestions you gave, Abigail! When it comes to social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, topics regarding body image are still a work in progress. I would agree that audiences are more aware of body positivity however, there still seems to be popularity with having unrealistic body features. I think the rise of influencers and circulation of social media trends have contributed to an unhealthy and false sense of the way our bodies should look.

  2. I feel like this is such an important topic to discuss both as media professionals and as media consumers. You laid out through statistics how severe of a problem this has become in our society and gave concise steps media consumers can take to promote body positivity. I’m curious if there’s steps we can create as we generate content or choose influencers to align with our brand to further move towards a positive body mindset.

  3. I count not agree more that social media and the image of what an ideal person should be can be very detrimental to your mental health. People are constantly comparing themselves to people they see online which is very unhealthy and needs to be stopped.

  4. Social media and body image is a huge issue. I think as we scroll through Instagram and see a lot of edited photos, we forget that they are edited. But on the same side, editing certain blemishes and a little extra stomach makes users feel as though we shouldn’t have those things to begin with. I remember reading about a country that makes companies disclose if a photo has been edited and photoshopped. I think this is a great step forward into taking down beauty myths and making people feel more confident.

  5. As someone who constantly finds herself falling into the trapping of comparing myself to what I see online, I really enjoyed reading this post. There are so many negative stigmas surrounding body image on social media. It’s been good seeing that stigma change though and more people opening up with body image issues. Great post!

  6. You brought up some great points about how social media and how it has formed our society. Our current generation and the society we live in was formed by social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, etc. It seems like everyone is here to compare themselves, and that’s where I think there’s body image issues among all platforms. It will be interesting to see where social media evolves in the next 10 years.

  7. I really enjoyed this post because I enjoy the conversation that’s taking place. Body positivity has really grown on social media this past year, but also the conversations surrounding dieting and the sizing of clothing. This post was very informative and I can tell a huge amount of research was done before writing this blog! love it.

  8. This is such an important conversation we need to be having. As the generation who grew up as kids with social media always available, we are the first to see and understand the effect social media has on our body images. While we can seek out influencers and accounts where the goal is to promote positive body image, it is almost impossible to avoid influencers and accounts that do the opposite as well. We need to do better to help protect people from thinking poorly about themselves. The rate that people are developing eating disorders at is scary and it saddens me to think that social media has played such a large role in how people think of themselves.

  9. Hi Abigail
    I have seen the negative effects of social media on my body image as well as some of the people who are closest to me and it breaks my heart more and more. While it can be a great place to connect it can also be the thing that breaks us. I have time restrictions set on my social media app so after a certain amount of time spent on them in a day, my phone locks me out of the app until I put in a password, and while it may be easy just to put in the password, I try to hold myself accountable and stick to the time limit.

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