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Maria Enriquez

English 115

Professor Rodrick

September 26, 2017

Social Media Body Image

If you go on Instagram, Facebook, or Tumbler it is easy to scroll down your feed and find

a picture of a girl you would probably see on a daily basis. In the picture she may be with friends

or taking a hike, but this girl is more than a girl shes the ideal body image of young teenage

girls. Its easy to be on social media and find many of these types girls who are thin and have an

hour glass shaped body, but these girls make a negative influence to girls who dont owe that

particular type of body. Social media affects a persons identity through body image because it

creates false beauty standards, eating disorders, and causes girls to be unsatisfied with

themselves by using Photoshop and comparing themselves with other girls online. Although we

know these images are not 100% accurate because of Photoshop, it is still easy to fall under the

impression that the girl is still supposed to be skinny and beautiful. Girls feel the need to change

themselves in order to conform on what society expects them to look like making them change

their identity inside and out.

Girls are exposed to false beauty standards when they are on social media. According to

Perloff, exposure to media messages can impart unrealistic images of female beauty [] and

meta-analysis of research indicates that media portrayals of thin-ideal body exert an impact on

body concerns. Perloff point is that the unrealistic beauty standards that are shown to girls on

media tend to create body dissatisfaction that should not be created in the first place, yet is still

there to implant thin-ideals into young girls minds. Girls end up believing that the beauty

standards that are shown on media are standards that make a beautiful girl, so they try to achieve

a standard that isnt there for them to reach. Therefore they change their identity to become

someone who they wish to be online and the real world. They try so hard to be someone they are

not and end up losing their identity because they work themselves up to be these girls they see


Since girls want to reach false beauty standards they go to extreme measures to reach it

leading to eating disorders. Then the eating disorder ends up being a part of a persons identity.

According to Ferguson, Munoz, Garza, and Galindo, Compared to clinical eating disorders,

which remain relatively rare, non-clinical body dissatisfaction is very common, affecting 50% of

girls and young women. Their argument that girls suffer from eating disorders because they

view images that effect how they view their body trying to find a way to change themselves on

how to look somewhat similar to the girls presented on social media is support by the research on

50% of girls suffer eating disorders. Girls want to be fit as well and turn to eating less because it

would be the fastest way to be as skinny as those girls.

There are websites online that promote dieting as a good way to lose weight. Although

sometimes going on a diet is good for a person who has an unbalanced eating system, these girls

are not doing it to benefit their health. Perloff himself writes, Websites are devoted to

promoting proanorexic ideals [] Healthy Living blogs also emphasize thin appearance values

and disordered nutritional messages, while also containing self-objectifying messages about

woman. In other words, Perloff states that websites can provide some pretty tough and easy

ways to lose weight that could harm girls because they are so desperate to lose weight, which end

up creating eating disorders. These diets that are being promoted on the websites are causing

harm while giving information what is fit and what is not to girls such as not having belly fat or

stretch marks. Models also promote dieting through their photos. They take pictures of

themselves eating salads, fruits and working out. These pictures online present a powerful

message because they are stating that if they eat salads and fruits all the time they will be thin

and good looking as them. Once a girl goes through an eating disorder that persons identity is no

longer the same they are forcing themselves to not eat or eat very little, changing how they

interact with others.

In society it is easy for a person to be unsatisfied with their body and social media

contributes to it. As we see these loved and craved bodies online we begin to see that our bodies

dont match up to them. In Perloff views, Scores of experiments have demonstrated that

exposure to thin-ideal media images increases womens dissatisfaction with their bodies, as well

as negative affect. To further Perloff statement he is saying young girls are no longer happy

about what they see in front of the mirror because of social media presents body image to be tall

with long shiny hair and skinny, but still have enough breasts and a butt. Then according to

Alicia in a YouTube video she made, she states, eight out of ten women are not happy with their

body. Alicia points out that a high number of women are not happy with themselves and it is a

increasing number because of the media. No body type is the same. Its part of a persons identity,

who they are and social media has been making young girls feel unsatisfied with their own


Obviously these models Photoshop their pictures to portray a certain way, but girls still

want to have this false standard. Even at a very young age, Perloff himself writes,

Internalization of body perfect ideals and body size stereotypes begin when girls in Western

societies young as 3 years old. Mass media have been implicated as an especially significant

source of influence of these perceptions. Beginning with young girls exposure to mass

communicated images of the Barbie doll- the cultural icon of female beauty. Basically, Perloff

is stating that body image can impact girls at such a young age through media promoting Barbie

doll images online that may not seem to be a big deal, but actually promote a perfect body that is

not ideal since it provides a small waist that a girl cant have unless her ribs are removed.

Comparison plays a big role in body image. As you go through your social media and

you look at a friends picture you begin to compare yourself with that friend. According to

Perloff, Social comparison with attractive peers can actually lead to more negative self-

attractiveness ratings than comparison with attractive advertising models. He argues that

people online not only find effects on their friend and their selves and I agree because even I do

that myself I tend to compare myself to other attractive friends of mine on my social media

making me feel upset about my own body. You want the features your friend or a random girl

online has because it satisfies the wants of the ideal body for a woman. Social media then

becomes a competition on who gets more likes and their body images play a bigger role. The

skinner you look in a picture the more attractive you seem the more likes you get. Then Perloff

states Another important social learning factor is self-objectification, the process by which girls

come to view their bodies as objects to be looked at, much like an observer would. Perloff is

getting his point across that girls compare their bodies as if they are no longer attached to their

head but are now objects that have to satisfy men. Their identity is no longer surrounded by them

but upon what others want to see online, the identity that will get them the most likes.

Social media issue on body image affects the persons identity in the real world. That

person is no longer confident in themselves and online. They make themselves suffer through

dieting that leads up to an eating disorder only to reach a false beauty standard that doesnt exist.

Their identity is not based on them being happy about themselves, but on being constantly

worried that they are not skinny enough to be loved both online and in the real world. Girls and

even sometimes men want what they see online and so they go out in the real world trying to find

a way to be the Instagram models online that may even be catfish, a person who portrays a

person they really arent. They become shy and conservative because they no longer believe they

are enough for society. Identity is no longer theirs to claim, its all put into one picture they see

online or social media and that is the ideal body image for a young teenage girl.

Work Cited

Body Image Affected By Media YouTube. Uploaded by Alicia. Oct.4, 2012.

Ferguson, Christopher J., Galindo, Mariza, Garza, Adolfo and Munoz, Monica E. Concurrent

And Social Media Influences on Body Dissatisfaction, Eating Disorder Symptoms and

Life Satisfaction in Adolescent Girls. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, Vol.43, no.1,

January 2014, pp.1-14, Social Sciences (H.W. Wilson).


Perloff, Richard M. Social Media Effect on Young Womens Body Image Concern: Theoretical

Perspectives and an Agenda for Research. Sex Roles, Vol.71, no.11-12, December 2014,

pp.363-377, Social Sciences (H.W. Wilson).


Ricciardelli, Lina A and Williams, Robert J. Social Media and Body Image Concerns: Further

Considerations and Broader Perspectives. Sex Roles, Vol.71, December 2014, pp.389-

392, Social Sciences Full Text (H.W. Wilson).