The media’s affiliation with body image and body image perception is not an issue that has recently arisen. As digital producers and consumers, we are constantly inundated with commonly supported accusations that magazines and television are responsible for depicting a supposedly ideal body image that individuals, both men and women, are expected to strive for and achieve.
But, what about the supposedly ideal body image people are expected to strive for and achieve that social media depicts?
Social media websites such as Facebook and Instagram are designed to showcase users in a manner that emphasizes physicality and appearance.
Facebook profiles are constructed to function around the focal point of the page – a person’s “profile picture”, a photo chosen by the profile operator to represent themselves to their friends on the website.
Instagram profiles are intended to operate as a visual portfolio of its users, promoting individuals to display who they are through means of photos and “hashtags” aided by the availability of photo filters to enhance images.
Roxby (2014, N. pag) explains how social media websites like Facebook and Instagram are essential communication outlets for teenagers, specifically teenage girls, and because these websites and their photo-uploading features are accessed millions of times a day, the way users look and the way their friends look has become the most significant element of their relationships with their online friends.
When analyzed in this context, it becomes apparent how social media influences body image.
Social media websites are self-objectifying. They encourage users to post visually enhanced images of themselves to receive recognition and appreciation from fellow users.
The comments from other users of the sites become a form of social validation for individuals which conclusively leads to body image anxieties.
Comments from other users of the sites can be either positive or negative.
It is essential to remind oneself of how social media websites are incredibly powerful and alluring forces in the ways in which a person perceives their body. Because they are intended to focus on appearance as opposed to individuality, it is understood how body image and body image perceptions become entirely manipulated and consumed by their influence.
I think the image I chose to represent this blog post accurately captures what users of social media must keep in mind:
“Contrary to what you see in the media, we are not all supposed to look the same.”
Roxby, Phillipa. “Does Social Media Impact on Body Image?” 2014. N. Pag. BBC News Health. Web. 28 February 2015.