The lasting online impact on body image

In our modern digital era, a substantial portion of our time is spent engaged with various apps. Over time, social media has progressively wielded a significant influence over our self-esteem, creating a frustrating cycle of self-imposed negativity that recurs daily. Often, we find ourselves opening platforms like Instagram and TikTok, bombarded with content that showcases the so-called "perfect body," known colloquially as "#bodygoals" in Gen-Z terms. Without a doubt, social media holds a pivotal role in fostering a decline in self-esteem and perpetuating harmful self-critique. 

As an example, consider the realm of self-care content. The visually pleasing videos that populate our 'FYP’, such as 'Get-Ready-With-Me' (GRWM) sequences and skincare routines, are hard to deny. However, it's important to scrutinize the underlying message being conveyed. On one hand, we enjoy watching videos that encompass relaxation, physical exercise routines, and makeup tutorials from our beloved creators. On the other hand, it's perplexing to see how these videos consistently revolve around themes like green juices and intermittent fasting. Does not adhering to a certain image, like not wearing a matching yoga set or not fitting into a size 2 while shopping at Aritzia, exclude someone from being labeled as the stereotypical "That Girl"?

*Proceeds to add protein powder to Amazon cart

In case you're unfamiliar with the term "That Girl," allow us to enlighten you with the wisdom of TikTok. This trend had been circulating online recently, featuring content focused on women who embrace activities such as sipping matcha, hitting 10,000 steps, and indulging in self-help podcasts. The overarching idea behind this trend is aligned with the self-care movement and the pursuit of personal betterment. But does it genuinely achieve this objective? Does such content contribute to improved self-care, bolstered confidence, or a healthier body image? Watching a slim woman sip a skinny margarita in a two-piece swimsuit seems to yield the opposite effect. This isn't to dismiss the potential benefits and creativity that can arise from such content, but it's crucial to approach it with moderation and a comprehensive understanding.

The remarkable performance of this content style is largely attributed to the power of algorithms. The algorithms behind platforms like TikTok's 'FYP' and Instagram's 'Explore' page aren't standardized for every user. These social media platforms are tailored to individuals by brands and organizations, and the lack of transparency surrounding this process is rather disconcerting. The filters, tools, and editing capabilities available are astonishing, yet they continue to amplify our insecurities and vulnerabilities.

So, what steps can we take?

Providing advice is simpler than putting it into action, but here are a few strategies that have shown promise:

  • Time Management: One effective strategy involves allocating specific time blocks for social media apps. Limiting the daily duration of interaction with apps like TikTok and Instagram can prove beneficial.
  • Follower Purge: It's important to assess your follower list on social media. Determine whether each account contributes positively to your daily life. This doesn't solely refer to celebrities or influencers. To avoid potential conflicts, you might consider muting or hiding posts and stories on Instagram.
  • Education: Increasing awareness of the adverse effects of social media and keeping this in mind during browsing can have a positive impact. Platforms like TikTok offer digital well-being guides that are worth exploring.
  • Delete harmful editing tools: Remove apps like Facetune or any other editing software that could potentially harm your self-esteem. These tools don't serve your well-being.

Undoubtedly, it's easier said than done, but remember to extend kindness to yourself. You're far more than just a physical form, and what people post is a curated glimpse of their lives.

Navigating the treacherous path of social media and the pursuit of an impeccable online image can be a slippery slope. Yet, it's crucial to gently remind yourself to extend kindness both online and offline. Liberating yourself from the pressure to conform and the desire for validation can be remarkably freeing. Remember, you are multifaceted, and people only reveal what they choose to display.


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