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The Impact of Social Media on Body Image and Self-Esteem

Body Image and Social Media

By Alvin EsguerraPublished 6 months ago 3 min read
The Impact of Social Media on Body Image and Self-Esteem
Photo by Dushawn Jovic on Unsplash

Gen Zers are feeling the pressure to keep up with body trends perpetuated by celebs and social media. Earlier this year, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found out that in 2022, 75 percent of plastic surgeons saw a spike in clients under 30. Doctors say that as life moved largely online during the pandemic, people became unhappy with the way their faces appeared on their computer cameras and decided to get some tweaks. They refer to this movement as the "Zoom boom."

For Gen Zers, social media is another force pushing body trends, particularly on TikTok, where young women make up the vast majority of users. And now, "body checks" have taken off on the app, where users zero in on the thinness of a particular body part. A student-led high school publication called The Bird Feed did a deep dive into body checks and found out that the app's algorithm feeds body check content to teenagers' For You pages, causing users to put unrealistic expectations on themselves.

It's not just TikTok, though. Last year, internal Instagram data showed that the app was harmful to teen girls' mental and physical health, directly making them feel worse about their bodies. And secretiveness around beauty standards has toxic effects. Just last year, after a slew of starlets became unaccountably thinner, reports came in that many folks in Hollywood were taking the diabetes drug Ozempic, which causes rapid weight loss. Very few celebrities have admitted to using it and instead nod to new diets and workout routines, which are also damaging. The extreme weight loss trend, plus the '90s aesthetic coming back into style, has made way for countless "thin is back" headlines.

Buccal fat removal was the most headlined surgery of 2022, in Hollywood and beyond. This shift also ushered in the end of the BBL era, the surgery popularized when curvier figures were in style. Influencer ProblematicFame spreads awareness of how social media impacts beauty standards. They told MTV News, "It's not through the beauty brand that you're partnering with. It's not through the vitamins, the gummies, the flat tummy tea, the cleanse. It is often through cosmetic procedures that these idealized looks are achieved and maintained. That's where it's a social responsibility issue, where celebrities and influencers need to be aware of who they're influencing, who is watching, and oftentimes, a good chunk of that audience is young, impressionable girls and women who are looking to see what it takes in order to be valued, to be respected, to be confident, and to be worthy of love."

Recently, some celebrity women have expressed regrets and/or warnings about cosmetic procedures. Bella Hadid told Vogue that she had a nose job at age 14, which she regrets. Last year, Cardi B got her butt injections removed and warned fans not to get them because of their serious complications they can cause. And last week, Blac Chyna documented getting her butt shots removed, along with some other surgical removals. But there are also plenty of celebs, like Chrissy Teigen, Dolly Parton, and Kaley Cuoco, who love their work.

Listen, I'm like anyone else. I want to look good. I want to be fashionable. I have insecurities. And I think that people have the right to make choices about their bodies. But the problem here is that body trends are moving at the speed of light. If our decision-making tries to keep up with social media, and our self-worth is dictated by an app that favors toxic content, we could really hurt ourselves.

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