Social Media and Eating Disorders

In the past two years, teenagers all over the world have been absolutely enamored with the new social media sites that were created. The average person has around five social media sites on their phone, and spends an hour and forty minutes on them each day. One social media site in particular has been very popular with people all over the world, especially teenagers, because it is simple, and fun to use. It’s called….wait for it….Instagram!!

Instagram currently has 400 million active users from different places, different ages, and different classes. Many celebrities and models use Instagram to connect with their fans on a more personal level portraying themselves as “regular people” while advertising themselves.

It is clearly a success because many teenagers, specifically girls, follow these models and celebrities on Instagram attracted to their beauty, style, and popularity. It is safe to say that girls feel intimidated by the models’ beauty, a common cause of many self esteem problems. Despite numerous objections, no girl would ever complain if they suddenly looked like a Victorias Secret model.

While it may seem like an innocent desire for beauty, most of the time it  actually comes from a serious lack of self- esteem harmful for adolescent girls. Due to this lack of self-esteem from following certain people in Instagram, many girls suffer from eating disorders such as  anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder.  These devastating diseases are plaguing girls who are naive to the fact that most pictures models post are heavily photoshopped. There are hundreds of photoshopping apps that can alter the size of eyes, bodies, and change your skin color. That’s just in the app store; models and celebrities have access to professionals who can make their waists smaller, and legs thinner portraying a modified version of their previous self.

Typical adolescent girls are not the only people suffering from eating disorders. Many models and celebrities have suffered from serious eating disorders because constant stress and pressure to always look like “their best self.” Celebrity Victoria Beckham  admitted to suffering from bulimia nervosa during her early years in the Spice Girls.

She claims that one of her bandmates heavily encouraged bulimia to keep thin for the image of the band. Beckham is not the only celebrity who is outspoken about her disease; Demi Lovato also struggles with bulimia and now advocates for girls who are struggling as well.

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She is constantly standing up for girls who are exposed to media that encourages their behavior, and faces injustice headstrong. Demi Lovato is a model for how we should act towards eating disorders influenced by media.

This past year, an Australian model, Essena ONeill, spoke up about the behind- the- scenes of her Instagram photos, and actually decided to “quit” social media due to the socially constructed expectations she felt pressured by.This model edited all of her captions on her Instagram account explaining the tiring, endless efforts it took to make her look absolutely p

erfect.  In this video, she is inspiring young women everywhere to stop allowing Instagram to define who they are, and to live life without worrying about the amount of “likes” you get.

Celebrities like Demi Lovato, and Essena ONeill are changing the way young women view social media for the better! They are encouraging young girls that there is more to life than social media, and by allowing it to define who you are, you are allowing it to control you. They are standing up and showing that it does not have to be this way.

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