How Social Media Is Affecting Girls

Erica Grimes, Reporter

Social media has been a big part of our lives for the last ten years.  Almost everybody has heard of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter and has used them at some point in time.

What many don’t take into account, though, is the effect these apps have on young women.  

Especially through these troubling times, where we are all stuck at home, on technology, we should know the effect these platforms may have on women.

I believe social media is harmful to women, their perceptions on reality, and the way they view themselves.  The way many companies benefit off of these insecurities is evil as well.

Social media spreads lies about many things–including the “ideal” female body, but this has devastating effects. 

For example, the Kardashians promote the idea that they got their body naturally, posting pictures of them at the gym, when, in reality, they didn’t. 

Last year, Khloe Kardashian was caught photoshopping one of her photos of her at the gym. This situation is especially ironic, because while promoting the idea that women can get the social media “ideal” body type by just working out at the gym, she was caught editing that very situation.

The Kardashians also promote products such as “weight loss teas.” A good example would be the product Khloe Kardashian promoted “flat tummy shakes,” which are expensive, and more importantly not approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration, making them extremely risky.

The Kardashians are the most notable of the influencers doing all this, but many other celebrities can be caught spreading lies about body image this as well, such as famous rapper Cardi B, Perez Hilton, rapper Iggy Azalea, and most recently Demi Lavato. 

“The mortality rate associated with anorexia nervosa is 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of death for females 15 – 24 years old,” said a study that can be found here.

As young girls start using social media more and more, what does this say?  

When they log on and see their favorite celebrities perpetually pushing the idea that they are not beautiful the way they are, what is expected to happen? 

These actions from celebrities and social media influencers are causing an eating disorder culture, which is mainly affecting young women.  We are seeing eating disorders at an all time high right now.

“95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25,” said a study that can be found here.

“The effects social media has had on my body image are negative.  Although, I did come into social media already having an eating disorder and low self esteem, when I joined in 7th grade I was obsessed with getting views and likes.  I was thinking the more friends I had on social media made me cool and would make people want to be my friend. […] I will admit when my video blew up on Tiktok I became overwhelmingly insecure.  Suddenly I had thousands of people looking at me and became a role model, someone for them to look up to.  I convinced myself I had to be more for them.  That I had to be skinner, prettier, funnier, and perfect,” said Kiara Chinchay-Diaz, a young woman on Tiktok who has over 32.3 thousand followers.

A study by Science Direct shows how much social media affects young women, the study can be found here. This study shows that a constant presence with attractive peers and influencers, can lead to a negative perception of a young woman’s body.

“I find myself comparing myself to other peoples’ bodies and it changed the way I view myself, and my worth, by thinking I don’t have the ideal body type,” said Aaki Roka, a current junior at Perry Hall High School.

It is so important to start instilling in our girls that they are beautiful no matter what, so they don’t run into these problems later in life.

A study found here, goes into detail about eating disorders and states, “Eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses, second only to opioid overdose.”  That is dangerous, considering how many young girls suffer from them because of social media.

Asking about how social media has changed her perception of her body image Senior Jolie Hoppes said, “I didn’t feel skinny or proportional, [social media was] related to reasons I had an eating disorder.”

When asked about body image junior Jessi Whittle said, “My body image has gotten worse because social media creates the ‘perfect’ stereotype of what a girl should be and it’s unrealistic to achieve without paying a bunch of money or working hard over years.”

As these young women share their experiences with social media and body image issues, it is important to think about how widespread this is.  

We also have to consider the effects on women’s mental health.  The unrealistic body standard is obviously harmful, but it can lead to other mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.  

“The toll it took on my mental health was extreme and I relapsed with my eating disorders and I’m currently in recovery,” said Chinchay-Diaz.

To fix this problem we should definitely educate on realistic bodies for women.