Social media often acts as toxic mirror for teenage girls
When in class, our teacher would explain to us about the beauty ideals society would characterise.
Not one girl in the classroom met the ideals described.
My female classmates, including myself, felt emotionally sick about the way we looked and that we didn’t meet these standards.
We are a vain and narcissistic society, making it extremely hard for teenage girls to fit in.
I am 15 years old, from a small mining town in WA, and I now go to a boarding school.
Having been a bullying victim at my school before the one I’m at now, it made it hard for me to go to school each day and participate in everyday school work. My emotional health got so intense, to the point that I started to skip school and had to visit a psychologist.
Viewing social media made me feel so miserable about my appearance that I hardly left my bedroom, and if I did I would try not to be noticed by my peers.
I want parents, as well as teens, to know the reality social media plays in our society.
We consume and use social media in our lives every single day.
It’s an incredible web of lies we spin to make ourselves and our lives seem more interesting or happier, but social media has in fact become a toxic mirror. Young girls are being presented with unrealistic beauty standards formed from the world of social media.
Teens spend more than nine hours on media platforms a day, which means they are open to the harmful ways it portrays beauty.
Thinness is being presented as the ideal body shape for health as well as happiness. This influences females to change their image to be “prettier, skinnier and hotter”.
Visual platforms including Facebook and Instagram deliver the tools that allow teens to get approval of their appearance.
How many likes or comments they get on a photo makes them feel better about themselves, but can also become extremely addictive. Apps on mobile devices make it easier to cover up pimples, whiten teeth and airbrush with a swipe of a finger, helping insecure teens reel in those intoxicating likes.
Media does a poor job at defining what a “normal girl” looks like. One of the biggest complications in media is the lack of diversity, idealising female celebrities who are white, tall and thin. Female celebrities are constantly photoshopped to perfect their bodies.
When young girls see these unhealthy messages — needing to have a thigh gap or a flat stomach — it tends to lead to eating disorders to meet these beauty requirements.
Research shows the more a girl views social media, the greater the chance of developing an eating disorder, as well as lower self-esteem. According to beauty products company Dove, in 2014 women wrote five million negative tweets about beauty, four out of five tweets being about themselves and the way they looked. Low self-esteem can often lead to depression and anxiety, or the worst-case scenario, suicide.
If you or someone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 131 114.