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Social Media As a Cause of Negative Self Image

According to a study including 1000 men and women cited in an article on the King University Psychology Department’s webpage, “87% of women and 65% of men compare their bodies to images they consume on social and traditional media. In that comparison, a stunning 50% of women and 37% of men compare their bodies unfavorably.” As evidenced by this study, the negative impact of social media on self image is unavoidable. Social media emphasizes a slim body type, which can trigger or exacerbate eating disorders, and can lead to other comorbid mental health problems. While this same King University article acknowledges that some positive impacts of social media have been noted, including its ability to act as a hub for body image advocacy and to provide a space for inclusive representation of a range of body types, the majority of people tend to feel like their bodies are inadequate after exposure to social media. While men and women are both impacted by a range of outside influences when it comes to the perception of their own bodies, social media has a disproportionate effect on women in particular. Using an interview with Westfield State student Paige Freeman and presenting graphs representing differences in bodily self-perception of both men and women, I argue that social media users need strategies to challenge that impact. While disconnecting entirely from social media is often implausible, I offer suggestions to help mitigate the impact of social media on body perceptions.

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