How does social media affect the ways in which women view their body image?
Social is used everywhere in the world and it has become the top source of anything that people need to know. While it is good in so many ways, like making communication easier, it also has a lot of negative impact on women and young girls today on how they view themselves and their bodies.
In a study by Dittmar. H and Howard S, “Professional hazards? The impact of models’ body image on advertising effectiveness and women’s body-focused anxiety in professions that do and do not emphasize the cultural ideal of thinness,” they point out that media is where most of the pressure on women to want to look beautiful and wanted come from.
They say, “Ultra-thin models are so prominent that exposure to them becomes unavoidable and ‘chronic,’ constantly reinforcing a discrepancy for most women and girls between their actual body size and ideal the body” (478).
Media being the top form of communication, young women and girls get to see what the world views as beautiful through the different posts, ads, and television shows and get discouraged about their own body because they start to compare it to the one set by others.
In my view, Dittmar and Howard are right because social media tends to show what the surrounding culture generally sees as beauty. That just makes women who don’t see themselves as thin start feeling bad about their own bodies just because they don’t look like the ones of the models depicted in moves, Instagram, ads, etc.
They end up feeling depressed and uneasy about their own bodies because they are basing their worth on physical appearance that’s been determined by someone else out there. “For many women and girls in western cultures, appearance is central to their self- definition,” (Dittmar and Howard, 477). In other words, women and girls determine who they are and how much they matter according to how they look. So, when the different media show a different image to that of a woman trying to find herself, that lowers her self-esteem and she soon becomes discouraged. She starts questioning whether she really matters, if she is enough and whether something is wrong with her. This negativity in her mind affects even her daily life because when something goes wrong throughout the day, she will tie it all to the thought that it’s because she is ‘not pretty’ or that she ‘doesn’t have a perfect body,’ all due to the fact that women see their appearance as key to who they are and how people see them in life.
Dittmar and Howard in their study go on to say, “It is possible that the presentation of thin models serves to make women worry about appearance-related self-discrepancies between and actual bodily self and a thin body image ideal, producing weight and body size-related anxiety” (494). These two authors don’t seem sure about the idea that the comparison of the thin bodies of models and the average body image causes anxiety in women. From my point of view, I believe it is not just ‘a possibility’, but it’s what is actually happening in real life today, for many women and girls around the world. From personal experience of having girlfriends who keep up with celebrities and models, I have been able to witness the effects these models have on people’s eating disorders. Wanting to be thin leads people to be on unhealthy diets so that they could achieve the ‘ideal’ body image. Somehow in a woman or young girl’s mind, achieving the ideal body is like the key to happiness. A lot of time and is spent trying to get there, and once that fails, a person ends up feeling almost empty inside. Women start feeling anxious all the time and that affects how they interact with people outside. They tend to feel like everyone is thinking about their weight just because they are not exactly in perfect range with society’s standard of beauty.