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Influence of Social Media on The Body-image and Self-worth of The Youth in Northern India

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This study aims to investigate the influence of the social media on self-esteem and body image in both males and females, aged between 18 and 30 residing in the northern part of the country (Delhi). The social media in today’s time has come to become the most powerful conveyor of socio-cultural values regarding body ideals, size and weight, which has been linked to body dissatisfaction and in turn, related to other health concerns such as depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders. In this study, I will also try to investigate whether males can have equal or lower body image than women.

Although there is a voluminous literature on mass media effects on body image concerns of youth, there has been relatively little theoretically-driven research on the processes and effects of media, especially social media on youth’s body image and self-perceptions. Given the heavy online presence of youth in various social networking sites (SNS), I will try and demonstrate that social networking sites have adverse effects on the mind of the youth about their body image and self-worth. The interactive format and content features of social media, such as the strong peer presence and exchange of a multitude of visual images, suggest that social media, working via negative social comparisons, transportation, and peer normative processes, can significantly influence body image concerns. Therefore, I will argue that SNS, as a combination of real life and a personalized form of advertising, can potentially have the amplified consequences in the minds of today’s youth.

The purpose of this paper is to understand and criticize the role of today’s social media in the portrayal of a “perfect” body leading to lack of self-worth and the development and/or encouragement of eating disorders, lower self-worth perception, and body dissatisfaction in today’s youth. The youth are exceptionally vulnerable to the impact that social media can have on their body image as they develop an outlook on their bodies and accept the developmental changes that occurred during puberty. This paper will try to provide evidence that there is a relationship between the recent surge in low body image and high consumption of social media. I will examine the ways in which social media advertising, Instagram pictures, web series etc. portray both men and women in their perfect body shape, as well as analyze the ways in which this depiction of the ideal body has helped shape society’s perspectives about beauty and increased the rate of disordered eating and low self-worth among the youth. Further, this analysis assesses the ways in which the thin ideal or the ripped muscular body as portrayed in social media encourages men and women to look a certain, unrealistic way. I will also consider various social psychological theories to explain how the youth in society form their perceptions with a combination of what they see in the media as well as what they see in their friends and family.

Research Question

Does media have an effect on body image and self-esteem of young adults?

Self-perception has been characterized as one’s very own perspective about one’s general physical appearance and is built up as an imperative part of self-esteem and psychological well-being across the lifespan (Harter, 1998; Altabe and Thompson, 1996). It is identified with self-worth, sexuality, family connections, and personality. It has additionally been characterized as the inward representation of your own external appearance; your own particular perception of your body (Thompson et al., 1999). In spite of the fact that it is firmly identified with sexuality and character, it can be said to be most firmly identified with self-regard. A great deal of research has demonstrated that negative self-perception and body disappointment prompts to low self-esteem. Self-esteem is the experience of being skilled to adapt to the essential difficulties of life and being happy. It is the whole of fearlessness and confidence (Branden, 1969). If one does not have a state of mind towards their body, it can lead to feelings of uselessness and lowering of confidence levels. It is well accepted that self-regard is a good marker of general well-being (Jackson, 1993; Harter, 1998).

Research has shown that the increases in eating disorders are because of either negative body image or potentially low self-esteem. Body image can be said to be a mental develop, which can be characterized as a man’s observation, considerations, and feelings about his or her body. Body dissatisfaction, on the other hand, is a man’s negative considerations about his or her emotions and these feelings are to a great extent controlled by social encounters, for example, media pictures (Grogan, 1998).

Visibly women and men with negative body-image, encounter negative feelings about themselves, and although some studies have found that the negative emotions that a few ladies have about their bodies are just minor disturbances, for others the negative feelings they have can bring about incredible pain that meddles with their regular daily existence (Cash, Antics and Strachan, 1997). At the point when negative body-image or low self-esteem become extreme, it can lead to other more grave issues, for example, anorexia or bulimia, and it has been observed to be extremely true in case of adolescents (Croll, 2005 and Field et al ., 2001).

Methodology refers to the methods and procedure used to conduct a study. It refers to the methods of data collection and analysis in order to guarantee the reliability of findings. It is vital to ensure that the appropriate methodology is chosen for a study.

For my study, all participants completed a short booklet of questionnaires containing The Self Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965), a media usage questionnaire and a body image questionnaire. Prior to this, participants also answered one demographic question about their gender. In addition to the questionnaire booklet that was prepared, access to the questionnaires was completed through Facebook, WhatsApp, and Gmail which was linked to Google Sheets.

  1. The Self Esteem Scale was developed by Rosenberg (1965), in order to measure feelings of self-worth or self-acceptance. This 10 question scale is scored using a 4 point response format, beginning with 1= strongly agree, to 4= strongly disagree. This response format is put alongside statements such as ‘I certainly feel useless at times’. Scores range from 10 to 40. 10 being the lowest and indicating low self-esteem, and 40 being the highest, indicating high self-esteem.
  2. The body image questionnaire that has been created for the purpose of this study. It consists of nine questions and includes ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ answer options.
  3. The media usage questionnaire has also been created for this study which consists of 8 questions. It was scored using the Likert Scale


There are four main hypotheses for this study. They are as follows:

  1. Males will have equal or higher body image than women.
  2. There will be a negative correlation between media use and body image. Participants, both males, and females will have a lower body image.
  3. There will be a positive correlation between body image and self-esteem. Participants with lower body image will also have lower self-esteem.
  4. There will be a negative correlation between media use and self-esteem. Participants exposed to the media more will have lower self-esteem.

Sample Size

In this study a total of 100 participants were used, 50 of male and female each, who were all aged between the ages of 18 and 25. The access to these participants was gained through handing out copies of the questionnaire booklet, but the majority of the responses gathered was through the use of Google Sheets. This was then used as a link on Facebook and WhatsApp and students, both male and female from different colleges in Delhi, between the ages of 18 and 25 were asked to complete the questionnaire. It was made known that anyone who participates in the study must be between the ages of 18 and 25. The age range was quite narrow as this study was interested in the effects of the media on young people. The average age of participants was 20 years old.

Data Collection

Data was collected by handing out questionnaire booklets to students at Christ University. The remainder of the questionnaires were collected from Google Sheets with the help of Facebook and WhatsApp to ask students to fill it out. A total number of 100 questionnaires were collected.

The booklet included a brief outline as to the nature of the study and also outlined ethical considerations such as confidentiality and consent of the participant. The research stated the importance of honesty and full completion of each section. After the questionnaires were answered they were immediately kept safe and private until the researcher was to begin an analysis. When all the data was collected, all answers were re-coded and total scores were computed using Pearson’s correlation in IBM SPSS. The significance level used was 0.05.


The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of the media on the body image and self-esteem of young men and women, aged between 18 and 25 residing in India. This study focuses on the unrealistic thin or muscular body ideals that are broadcasted to us on a daily through mass media, which has a widespread influential capability.

There were four hypotheses and assumptions for this study. The present studies’ four specific hypotheses were that;

  1. Males will have equal or higher body image than women.
  2. There will be a negative correlation between media use and body image. Participants, both males, and females exposed to media more will have lower body image.
  3. There will be a positive correlation between body image and self-esteem. Participants with lower body image will also have lower self-esteem.
  4. There will be a negative correlation between media use and self-esteem. Participants exposed to the media more will have lower self-esteem.

Hypothesis 1 stated that males will have equal or higher body image than females and this turned out to be true in the present study. Higher scores in the body image questionnaire indicated higher body image. Out of 50 males, there was a mean score of 6.66 for body image, compared to the mean score of 5.12 for females. On average, males displayed higher body image than females in the present research. Therefore the result proves hypothesis 1, and previous research supports this. McCabe & Ricciardelli (2003) also found similar results. Studies conducted by them concluded that there was no correlation between media exposure and lessened body satisfaction in males compared to females.

Hypothesis 2 stated that there will be a negative correlation between media and body image in both males and females, meaning media exposure will lower body image, was also proven. Results correlated for variables in hypothesis 2 showed that there was a negative correlation between media usage and body image in females, but on a non- significant level. This suggests that media usage may affect body image in females on a larger scale, but was not found to be true of participants from the present study. In males as well, there was a negative non-significant relationship between media usage and body image. These results indicate that media exposure does affect body image, for both males and females, and there is an abundant amount of research that completely supports this. Research by Stephen & Perera (2014) resulted in Chinese women preferring lower weight for attractiveness, after being exposed to model images, suggesting that short-term exposure to model images can, in fact, affect a woman’s body image.

Hypothesis 3 stated that there would be a positive correlation between one’s self-esteem and one’s body image, meaning that it was assumed that if a participant had low self-esteem, they would also have low body image, and this was assumed for both males and females. Results calculated for variables in hypothesis 3 showed that there was positive significant relationship between self- esteem and body image for both males and females, meaning that the higher one scored in body image the higher one scored in self-esteem, or vice-versa. These results prove the hypothesis to be correct. These results suggest that there is a positive significant correlation between one’s body image and self-esteem.

In line with this result, there are huge amounts of studies and theories that support that self-esteem does, in fact, go hand in hand with body image. It has been said that body image is established as an important aspect of self-worth and mental health across the lifespan (Harter, 1998). The link between the two was found to be remarkably strong, with an average correlation of .65 in the US and .62 in other countries such as England, Canada, Japan, Holland, Ireland, Australia, and Greece (Harter, 1999).

Hypothesis 4 stated that there would be a negative correlation between self-esteem and media usage in males and females, meaning the more media exposure participants injure, the lower their self-esteem. Results showed that there was a non-significant positive relationship between self-esteem and media used for both males and females, which means that the media does not affect self-esteem, therefore hypothesis 4 was not proven.

The overall purpose of this study was to explore the social media influence on body image and self-esteem and its effects on young people, between the ages of 18 and 25, in both men and women. It is universally known that body image has become an important aspect of one’s mental health, self- esteem and well –being. If one does not take a positive attitude towards their body, it can lead to feelings of worthlessness and confidence levels can be hindered. This study aimed to extend previous research on how the media affects young men and women. Nowadays images of unattainable body ideals fill magazines, TV advertisements, movies and social media sites, and these images generally reflect those of the thin idealized women (Cory & Burns, 2007), and with advancements in technology, it is now easier than ever before to be exposed to images portraying these ideals Ultimately the present research did not support what most previous research has argued. Majority of research illustrates that the media, whether it be model images or movies and TV, does, in fact, have a negative effect on the body image of young people across the globe, and in turn, the effect’s their self-esteem. The present study demonstrated that men have lower body image than women, and this contradicted various outdated research but proved comparable with a handful of recent studies. Conclusively, this study did not prove that there was a correlation between media and body image or self-esteem, but it did suggest that men can have a low body image as women.

There were a number of limitations have probably affected this study. To begin with, the sample size for this study was 100 participants, 50 males, and females each. This is quite a small number, which would have then had an effect on carrying out the research. The number of participants used in this study is fractional in comparison to the number of young people aged 18-25 residing in the country as a whole. If the sample size was increased, results may have been different and could have been generalized as a whole.

Previous research on this topic used different materials to the present study. A lot of previous studies have used methods of exposing the participant to media images in order to perceive body image and self-esteem directly afterward, through the use of questionnaires. The present study used questionnaires to measure the amount of media a participant exposed him/herself to and evaluated this against a body image and self-esteem questionnaire. This difference could have greatly affected results.

Another factor that might serve as a limitation to this study is the fact that the results solely depended on answers given by the participants. The results were analyzed based on the assumption that participants answered all questions honestly and accurately throughout the three questionnaires, stating correctly how they feel, their habits and media use. However, it is also possible that participants responded to these questions based on what they believe to be more acceptable, therefore leading to a bias in their answers, resulting in a bias in the result of the research.

Scope for Future Study

There are a number of recommendations that could be considered by future researchers if carrying out comparable studies. Firstly, it is advised that future researchers could benefit from using a larger sample size of participants. The present study used 150 participants, and results did not coincide with previous research. In view of the fact that the majority of participants in the present study were from the same ethnic group, it may have affected results and have not represented reality. Therefore, it is also suggested that using a broader spectrum of nationalities may give more accurate results, and would become more applicable to the general public or on a worldwide scale. It is also recommended that for further research it would be beneficial to edit the body image questionnaire and include more answer options aside from ‘YES or ‘NO’. Another suggestion for future studies would be to collect all data via social media sites with the use of Survey Monkey/ Google forms. This could lessen bias or untruthful answers if the researcher is not faced to face with a participant, as well as other participants amongst them.

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Influence of social media on the body-image and self-worth of the youth in Northern India. (2018, October 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 30, 2022, from
“Influence of social media on the body-image and self-worth of the youth in Northern India.” GradesFixer, 08 Oct. 2018,
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