Social Media’s Effect On Teen Body Image

Anastasia Carlon, Staff Writer

With the rise of social media beginning in 2004, many wonder about its effects on reality and what it does to teenagers these days.

In a world where social media always existed, many teens of today are feeling its effects on how they see themselves. Social media warps people’s perception of what we should look like. It constantly pushes what the ‘ideal’ body should look like for both men and women. Because of this, many teens feel that they should look exactly like what these heavily edited and planned photos look like.

With the 2020 quarantine, many teens were left to do however they pleased on social media sites. The most prominent is TikTok, which has been known to have certain trends be flat out body checking. Body checking via social media is when others show off how ‘ideal’ they look with the hopes of more validation, and sometimes with the unintentional meaning to make others be concerned over their looks.

On Tumblr and Twitter, there are some groups of people who are ‘pro-ana,’ meaning pro-anorexia. Anorexia is an eating disorder where people try to maintain a below-average weight by undereating and overexercising. On these sections of the site, many encourage others to stay thin and to continue trying to lose weight. Some teens fall into these communities without meaning to, developing disordered eating as a result. 

“Social media, in general, doesn’t cause an eating disorder. However, it can contribute to an eating disorder,” said Chelsea Kronengold, a spokeswoman for the National Eating Disorders Association. “There are certain posts and certain content that may trigger one person and not another person.”

Arian Dylans let out her feelings saying, “over the quarantine, I found myself very concerned about my weight. I wasn’t even a bigger person by any means, I was just scared of not being seen as pretty on social media. Especially on TikTok, that place is really ruthless when it comes to how you look.” She continued, “I think I may have lost 20 pounds over quarantine, probably a little less but regardless it was a significant amount of weight loss in such a short time. Now I’m recovering, trying to let my mind trust my body again. It’s hard, but I’m pushing through. All I really would like to get across to anyone reading is that social media is fake. A bunch of people edit their photos and make millions before they deem their pictures good enough. Don’t be discouraged by a facade.”