Media Images and Beauty Standards: Effects on Body Image
Media images affect the way people perceive beauty standards and body image. Most people are focused on making their media images look the best. Some Internet users can go the extra mile to use filters to achieve the style of beauty that is perceived to be of a high standard on social media. In the current world, people are determined by the pictures that vigor very narrow values of attractiveness as compared to traditional times. Different media sites, including Instagram, are used as the body-image battleground where different images are posted, and people judge the bodies of every individual. Users form an idea of each other thanks to what they see on social media. This has made it difficult for people to achieve body satisfaction hence working each day to look better than they were yesterday. This works aims to illustrate the impacts of the media on body image and how public comparisons affect perception.
Negative Implications of Media on Body Image
Social comparison involves situations in which people compare themselves, their physical appearances, body shape, and even size to that of others. In this case, different users in the media tend to compare their bodies with those that they see online, and, as Eckler et al. note, young women are most affected by these trends (251). This psychological addiction to others’ opinions has several negative effects on an individual. Some people would like to have the same body size as someone they see on the media, and some would like to have the same height or even skin color. This makes it easy for individuals to take extreme measures so that they can have similar body sizes or shape among others. Contemporary beauty ideologies can have negative impacts on Internet users’ perception of what a good body image looks like and how an ordinary person should fit into society (Eckler et al. 252). Some people go the extra mile to avoid some of the foods so that they can have the body sizes and shapes that they have seen on the media.
Beauty standards have become a massive topic of discussion, and in addition to communicating on this theme on the Internet, many people, particularly women, pay much attention to this issue in real life. According to the study by Eckler et al., about 93% of young female college students are involved in conversations related to evaluating their body images and perceptions by other people (254). Such a prevalence of this topic proves that concerns regarding personal status from the standpoint of appearance occupy a significant role in people’s lives and are crucial factors affecting self-confidence. Some psychological constructs that form commitments to certain attitudes are typical behavioral patterns and reactions to relevant trends.
Body Psychological Constructs
The psychological constructs of the body appreciate the influence of the body image. When people are scrolling down the images that have been posted on social media, most of them end up wishing that they would be someone else. As Vogels notes, individuals’ desires to have a certain figure, shape, or size are largely affected by what they have seen online (789). Many Internet users end up with body dissatisfaction due to the images that they see on the media. Most of the body images are influenced by the genetic combination of an individual. People easily adapt the genes from their family histories hence attaining a certain body shape or size might be difficult. Similarly, some of the body shapes and sizes are influenced by the stage of development especially the adolescent state. According to Marengo et al., some ladies end up attaining perfect body shapes and sizes during their adolescent stages (63). At the same time, the issues of self-confidence and personal dignity are raised, which are also significant drivers in the formation of body psychological constructs.
The selfie trend, which has gained popularity in recent years, can also be interpreted from the perspective of psychological constructs. According to Mills et al., this attraction to posting personal images on social media is closely associated with feelings of self-consciousness and fear of being rejected by the Internet community (90). The growing interest in the formation of individual body images is a consequence of an increasing role that virtual platforms for communication play in people’s lives. The assessment of users’ profiles on social media is largely based on other users’ visual estimates, and following fashion trends and beauty standards is a natural desire to increase personal authority. At the same time, Mills et al. state that even an opportunity to modify photos on social networks does not bring enough satisfaction to people who feel insecure and fear of being rejected (90). Therefore, psychological constructs are the outcomes of current trends promoted by the Internet community.
Principles of Media Impacts on Body Images
There are several ways that media images affect the standards of self-esteem of an individual. Some of the media factors that lead to the change of self-esteem of an individual include comments, likes, and shares that are seen on the image that a person has posted (Bue and Harrison 153). If an individual realizes that no people are commenting, liking, or sharing their image like they are sharing someone else’s, that would lower their self-esteem since they will end up thinking that their images are not good enough and they don’t attract a similar audience. As Bue and Harrison argue, restoring self-esteem depends on the level of acceptance that an individual will achieve (154). People will need to accept their images and take the media as a way of storing their images for future references rather than a measure of their beauty and appearance.
People can easily be affected mentally by their idealized images. Balta et al. state that this can be considered a form of cyberbullying in which individuals comment negatively on an individual’s photo (1). Some may end up falling into depression, decreased peak motivational states since they don’t want to post images anymore and disordered eating since they are afraid that they will continue gaining weight and becoming uglier.
Idealized media images change individuals’ thoughts negatively in the way they perceive their body image. People resolve into dietary restraints so that they can achieve similar body sizes and shapes as those they have seen through the media. Some people go the extra mile to post several strategies that they have employed in attaining the body size that they got. People end using such self-improvement media strategies to try and attain better body images without understanding if they will work on their bodies and if they may have other negative impacts on their general health.
Balta, Sabah, et al. “The Mediating Role of Depression in the Relationship Between Body Image Dissatisfaction and Cyberbullying Perpetration.” International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 2019, pp. 1-11.
Bue, Amelia C. Couture, and Kristen Harrison. “Visual and Cognitive Processing of Thin-Ideal Instagram Images Containing Idealized or Disclaimer Comments.” Body Image, vol. 33, 2020, pp. 152-163.
Eckler, Petya, et al. “Facebook Use and Negative Body Image among US College Women.” Women & Health, vol. 57, no. 2, 2017, pp. 249-267.
Marengo, D., et al. “Highly-Visual Social Media and Internalizing Symptoms in Adolescence: The Mediating Role of Body Image Concerns.” Computers in Human Behavior, vol. 82, 2018, pp. 63-69.
Mills, Jennifer S., et al. “Selfie” harm: Effects on Mood and Body Image in Young Women.” Body Image, vol. 27, 2018, pp. 86-92.
Vogels, Emily A. “Loving Oneself: The Associations among Sexually Explicit Media, Body Image, and Perceived Realism.” The Journal of Sex Research, vol. 56, no. 6, 2019, pp. 778-790.