Breaking Down Social Media’s Contribution to Body Dysmorphia
July 21, 2023
Jade Kerr

While one continues their unending vertical social media scroll, they internalize a significant amount of visuals consciously or unconsciously. Questioning one’s appearance in the mirror then correlates directly to the beauty standards set by the bodies represented through this visual media. It leads to an indirect exclusion of certain body types that are actively made invisible on these media platforms. The impact of this exclusion is much more significant than an increase in aesthetic appeal for a particular category whose concept of beauty aligns with on-screen depictions.

Teenagers and vulnerable groups that spend a significant portion of their time on social media grow to treat the disconnect between the perfect edited visual body and their growing human body with great harshness. Increasing pressure to conform to an optical body that is unreal and curated with shape-toning filters instills insecurities that can worsen and eventually cause depression and Body Dysmorphia. Body dysmorphic behavior involves obsessing over one’s perception of their physical flaws and extreme dissatisfaction with their body image upon the realization that it looks very different from what one sees around them.

Getty Images/ Moment/ Carol Yepes

The way out of such obsessive thoughts goes beyond just distancing oneself from the digital world. It lies in understanding the tricks of the propaganda machine that capitalizes on the insecurities of vulnerable groups to then sell their products as the ultimate relief to their flawed human self. On a structural level, with influencer culture on the rise, social media platforms should strengthen their ethical community guidelines that provide a more inclusive space for diverse body types. For example, algorithms should be developed with sensitivities that effectively deal with hate speech for plus-size influencers and give marginalized sexual minorities the freedom to express themselves authentically. Only then can the mass portrayal of the highly chiseled hairless face and the body representing everybody as the same be countered.

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