How social media negatively impacts teen body positivity and self esteem

Julia Garms

More stories from Julia Garms

What is body image to you?

The past few months you’ve spent a lot of your time on TikTok. So has most of the country. Each day you scroll through your “For You page” and every person you see has something you want. You want their bone structure. You want their physique, their eyes or smile. How is it possible when a body isn’t something you can purchase?

“You’re stuck in this body forever so you might as well feel confident and have fun,” junior Ice Hayes said.

You might be thinking, ¨well, I don’t use TikTok¨, but what about Instagram and Snapchat? These are the most commonly used apps by teenagers and they all have something in common: comparison. Teenagers are constantly exploring new ways to change themselves, but is it really change if they are all just trying to meet societal standards?

“Every generation has an ideal “type,” and every few years we find a new one or person to idolize. Back in the early 2000’s it was skinny and tall. Now it’s slim thick with a small rib cage and you have to look like an hourglass,” Hayes said.

Despite what it seems like, men struggle with body image as well. Junior Oliver Tartt vocalizes his own insecurities as normal, but still just as affecting.

“I don’t think the issues I experience are unique or uncommon at all. I just see my flaws before my normalities which carries weight. I do think this is a very normal thing to think,” Tartt said.

As students at WJ feel alienated because of what they see on social media, they also find themselves subconsciously objectifying their peers outside of a screen. Junior Emma Zayas shares she finds herself objectifying others.

“Sometimes [I do], but mostly because I would want to look like them.” Zayas, among many others, has an issue with the way women are portrayed in the media. “I would change the expectation of a woman’s weight, and how having chub doesn’t mean you’re fat or unhealthy,” Zayas said.

Body positivity is seen as difficult for many people, all ages, genders and sizes. Many find it hard to have the confidence to tell themselves they look good and feel good. If name calling and face-to-face judgement was taken out of the equation, do you think body positivity would be so difficult? Without judgement from others, many think societal standards would not be as damaging as they are today.

It’s not just social media companies causing self esteem issues in males and females, it’s businesses as well. When you look at a magazine, there are models on the pages who are bronze, slim and look without a doubt flawless. Does this contribute? Many believe so. If clothing companies chose to advertise with a variety of body types, it could increase their business rates.

“When I see plus sized models I feel more comfortable shopping there. Brands like Brandy Melville and their ‘one size fits all’ is bullsh*t and it’s pretty upsetting when it doesn’t fit, as well as stupid when we all know it’s not true and is meant for 00 girls.” Zayas said.

In order to keep a positive mind and body, people should want to be positive and do it for themselves, not because of another’s influence.

“It’s important to not let social media and other people affect the way you see yourself. It’s unhealthy to constantly be comparing yourself to the next model, or bodybuilder, because achieving that happiness would only come from getting to the point they are at,¨ Tartt said. ¨It is much more important to look at your own progress and not worry about the people around you because every little progression can be its own burst of positivity.”.