Everywhere she looked, my friend saw pictures of beautiful girls, especially on social media. She saw other girls dressing and posing like supermodels then also sharing it on social media. These girls were well-liked. They were popular and had hundreds of people commenting on their photos. My friend began to think she had to look that way; like there was a universal standard to meet to be “pretty.” In comparison to this standard, my friend pointed out everything she considered a flaw on her face and body and felt miserable. She stopped eating properly and felt tortured by her body. People combat society’s expectations by saying we should learn to “love ourselves no matter what our body size is”. But that is easier said than done. 1 out of 12 teens conducts self-harm. My friend is one of them.
Without even being aware of it we observe everything that goes on in the world around us. Since the age of social media, it is infinitely easier to see not only what the people you know are doing, but the lives of complete strangers. People follow influencers and bloggers, admiring a luxurious lifestyle full of fancy meals and designer outfits. It distorts them from reality, making them feel as though they should be living life the same way. Teenage girls are especially impressionable as they are the main participants of social media. 94 percent of teens (ages 13-17) use social media, and when these teens aren’t doing their homework, playing sports, and being busy, they are on their phones texting, sharing, trolling, posting, you name it. According to New York Times, “In an environment where teens spend around nine hours using some form of online media every day, it doesn’t take long for them to be influenced by an “all-about-the-likes” sense of values that can potentially lead to life-altering decisions.”
There are benefits to social media, but what matters is what you use social media for. Hospital admissions of girls admitted for self-harm has gone up from 7,327 in 1997 to 13,468 in 2019 for America, directly correlating with the increased presence of social media. The main problem with social media is that it focuses too much on how someone looks than what kind of person they are. People need to know the importance of one over the other. The world of social media is an illusion of reality. It is not realistic to the way the majority of people live. Your looks do not define you, your personality does. So be kind, show empathy, and help others. We are in limited control of the way we look but we are in full control of how we treat others.