Improperly Redefining “Beautiful”: Social Media’s Profound Effect on Body Image

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Emily Muhlberg ENGL 112 Dr. Delony March 4, 2014 Improperly Redefining “Beautiful”: Social Media’s Profound Effect on Body Image The effects that social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have on their viewers are widely varied, but in my opinion the most impactful message that viewers take away from their social media use is the proposed definition of what is “beautiful”. People are highly moldable beings who soak up what they are surrounded by, so it makes sense that a message implying that they can “improve” themselves by losing weight, applying makeup, or focusing more on what they wear would have such a direct impact on the way they view themselves as a whole. Studies have shown that frequent users of social…show more content…
A young girl may follow a celebrity on Instagram and see pictures posted that have been taken by a professional photographer that only a celebrity could have access to, and suddenly the young viewer may feel that her own self-taken photos are inadequate. Social media has now made it more likely that she will pick apart her appearance and want to look more like the celebrity does. This is an unattainable goal, and when this fact is realized the viewer may feel discouraged about how she looks and turn to extreme measures, such as an eating disorder, to try to approach the unattainable as much as possible. As much as people would want to believe differently, in our society “thin” is synonymous with “beautiful” and “successful” and this underlying truth pushes many social media “thinspiration” sites to mass readership. A final contribution that social media use makes to the viewer is the furthering of the belief that how they look determines what they are worth. According to a report published by three professors at The Pennsylvania State University, “individuals who spend more time on Facebook may be more oriented toward their appearance and have less positive views of their appearance” (Rutledge et al, 2). This finding demonstrates that many individuals in society today have, either consciously or unconsciously, fallen victim to the common practice of allowing a website to determine the value that they place on themselves. Those who place less value
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