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The Correlation Between Social Media and the Development of Eating Disorders

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Media/Social Pressures and Teenage Self-Esteem/Eating Disorders

There was once a time where the percentage of teens with problems such as, eating disorders and low self-esteem was much lower than what it currently is in our modern lives. Two big forces which helped to push an “epidemic” of eating disorders and low self-esteem in the world is Social Media and the “Perfect Image” of what people think they should look like which is constantly being passed around social medias. Social Media, guided by certain peer groups design an image as to what they think a normal person should look like, called the “Perfect Image” and constantly share it amongst each other and ridicule those who do not fit within their standards. As a result, many teenagers face problems such as eating disorders and low self-esteem. The main cause to this is the way teens portray themselves on social media, which is the uploading and sharing of filtered images that only show a person looking their best or when they are the most positive. As a result of the high standards many teens impose on themselves through the pictures they see their peers posting, a sense of low self-esteem is developed. Lastly, as result of many photoshopped images circulating online, many people believe that they must look like that picture and may starve themselves to do so, and thus causing an effect on eating disorders.

People believe that the standards by which teens believe they must follow to be “cool” or to fit in are set by celebrities or models, that however is not the case. These standards are set much closer than one might believe, they are set by a person’s own classmates and friends. In the modern world, when teenagers post to theirs social medias such as Instagram or Facebook, they filter their pictures and only upload what they believe is their best. This creates an atmosphere where people believe that their friends or peers are having the best times of their lives all the time, all because of the types of pictures they upload. However, most of the time that is not the case, and these pictures are only uploaded for these 3 main reasons: so that the poster doesn’t feel left out, it helps them believe they are fitting in with their peers, or they are following a trend. Researchers believe that the reason why teens act like this on social media is for two reasons: the first, the hiding of their insecurities of imperfections and the second, falling into trends set by their peers. On social media, many teens who are hiding behind their phone screens constantly, heavily edit and select a picture so that they can look the best as they can be in order to seek praise and attention of others to boost their self-esteems. Lastly, teens believe it is the end of the world or they will be treated as outcasts if they don’t follow the same trends as their peers, however that is usually not the case.

In the modern day and age of social media, a majority of the people believe that social media has a negative connotation towards teenage self-esteem or depression. However, social media can work both ways in teenage self-esteem, it can both positively or negatively it. Social media can positively affect a person’s mood or self-esteem because teens are taught through their peers to appreciate the pictures they take of themselves, not because they look good or ugly, but because it provides others with a window into their personal life and allows a connection to be made within certain friend groups. Social networking also allows people to share pictures of their personal life to their friend groups which thus provides a sense of belonging or fitting into a group because you get to see that there are many other people in the world just like you. Finally, social media also allows for people to keep in touch with old friends or distant relatives which provides a back and forth discussion of keeping each other updated on their day to day lives. Likewise, social media also has a negative connotation on self-esteem and can really damage someone’s outlook on their personal life and how they value themselves as a human. Whenever anyone posts a picture or text onto social media, they always run the chance of being cyber bullied and being called names which can hurt someone mentally, and many people have said that mental pain is worse than physical pain, because one goes away but the other doesn’t. Another key point as to how social media can be viewed as negative is when people are cast out are looked down upon because they don’t live up to the standards of their peers or even participate in the same trends.

Social Media doesn’t just have an effect on a teenagers self-esteem, but it can also have long lasting effects on a person’s dietary habits , and thus cause eating disorders, whether it be eating too little or eating too much. Studies have shown that in recent years there are more cases of eating disorders being reported each year than ever before, and all as a result of pictures of a photoshopped “ideal body” that constantly is being circulated on the internet. The idea of an “ideal body” is posted everywhere you look, both on and off the internet, these pictures can be seen and range from social media to magazines and even books. However, this problem doesn’t just plague a certain gender, but actually affects both men and women. Men are expected by society to have large muscles, have a six pack ab, and to be tall. On the other hand, women are expected to be fit and skinny. As a result, many people turn to starving themselves in order to shave off their excess weight, however without proper professional consulting, a person may not be receiving the proper nutrients they need in order to survive and can thus cause themselves to get an eating disorder. These “simple” eating disorders can lead to the bigger problem of anorexia, in which a person does not eat well because of their lack of an appetite, and this all started because of unrealistic “ideal body image” that people pass around and shame others for not meeting up to their standards.

Social Media, guided by certain peer groups of teenagers have designed an ideal image as to what they believe a normal person should look and act like, called the “Perfect Image” and constantly share it amongst each other and ridicule those who do not fit within their standards. As a result of this many teenagers face problems such as eating disorders and low self-esteem. In the present day, teenagers post to social medias such as Instagram or Facebook, where they filter their pictures and only upload what they believe is their best. This creates an area where people believe that their friends or peers are having the best times of their lives all the time, all because of the types of pictures that have been uploading. However, social media is usually given a negative connotation, but a teen can learn from his or her peers to appreciate themselves and the pictures they post, not because they look good or ugly, but because it provides others with a look into their personal life and allows a connection to be made within a certain peer group. Social Media doesn’t always have an effect on a teenagers self-esteem, but it can also have long lasting effects on a person’s dietary habits because of body shaming, and can thus cause eating disorders, whether it be eating too little or eating too much, and can later result in the development of anorexia.

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