Instagram’s Effect on Body Image

Instagram is a heavily prevalent social media platform currently used by over one billion people worldwide. However, in recent growth, Instagram has transitioned from an artsy social app into a platform that perpetuates unattainable beauty standards. It has become less of a safe space for young and impressionable people as increasingly unrealistic expectations to obtain a “perfect body image” emerge on the platform.

Many women have felt pressured to look a specific way in order to be considered “attractive,” despite the fact that beauty is relative. This “ideal beauty” standard only fits a small group of people’s opinion that social media has morphed into society’s consensus. 

According to a study by Mercy Multiplied, 90 percent of those who have eating disorders are women between the ages of 12 and 25. It is also important to note that 72 percent of teens use Instagram daily. There are many components that can contribute to the development of an eating disorder, especially when it comes to scrolling through an app of edited and staged photos. 

There are numerous Instagram accounts that are altering old photos of celebrities. The original photo was edited with unattainable beauty standards in mind | Photo courtesy of Insider

Obtaining and maintaining a “perfect image” on Instagram has become a social expectation for many users. Two MC sophomore students, who requested to stay anonymous, commented on the impact of Instagram on their perception of body image and insecurities. 

“Honestly, Instagram makes me feel pretty insecure so I try my best not to go on it that much. It sets an unrealistic standard for both beauty and body image,” one sophomore said. 

Instagram can often present itself as a toxic environment, to the degree that many are unable to disconnect from the app. Many of these individuals are tired of negative thoughts consuming their minds because of a social media app but continue to use it in hopes of gaining much-needed validation.

The negative repercussions of Instagram are widespread, with MC students being of those affected. People worldwide are constantly talking negatively to themselves because they are comparing themselves to society’s “ideal beauty” which evidently is edited pictures.

“Instagram has been set as a societal expectation since we were in middle school so I feel like it has always altered people’s viewpoints on their bodies. People are less confident with themselves after seeing models post their perfect bodies when we shouldn’t even be comparing ourselves to them because we are 15 years old,” another sophomore at MCHS said. 

Khloe Kardashian posted this for her sister Kim’s 40th birthday and it appears to be heavily photo shopped. Kendell Jenner’s (top right) strap is disconnected it is unclear the reasoning for this but could have been to alter someones hair or body in the image | Photo courtesy of Instagram

Many girls and boys are introduced to Instagram at such a young age and are thrown into a world that is dedicated to achieving society’s perfect ideal beauty. A great majority of celebrities are altering and editing their photos, especially The Kardashian’s, without telling their viewers, forcing many to believe that these staged images are realistic and can be achieved by the average individual. 

According to ScienceDirect, a study was conducted in order to determine the effect of edited images on women’s body image. 138 female undergraduate students participated in the study and were each assigned a set collection of celebrity images, equally attractive peer images, or travel images–all from public Instagram profiles. 

“Results showed that exposure to celebrity and peer images increased negative mood and body dissatisfaction relative to travel images, with no significant difference between celebrity and peer images,” the report said.

Countless celebrities post images that have been edited to either clear their complexion or alter their body shape while arguing that they are completely natural. This is all done simply because people want to fit this ever-changing ideal beauty standard that has been implemented by society for years. The truth is that our real selves, the non-filtered ones, are actually more relatable than anything we put on social media. Ideal beauty standards will always change based on what is currently popular at the time, but ultimately it is the confidence and hard work that are part of what makes a person beautiful.