Is there too Much Pressure on Females to have Perfect Bodies

Human beings are social animals, as we need social connections and interactions to develop as well as retain a healthy life and mind. ‘Social media’ takes great advantage of these basic needs of individuals and so it is pretty mainstream today. To define social media, “It is the platform that enables the interactive web by engaging users to participate in, comment on, and create content as means of communicating with their social graph, and other users”.

Between years 2007 and 2010, more and more social media platforms came into existence such as Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Tumblr etc., which are primarily called photo/video sharing websites. Over a period of time, Instagram has become the main stage to share pictures and videos among youth, due to easy accessibility, filter features to edit pictures, and with the number of users increasing rapidly. Many researchers show that there is a strong link between spending more time on social media platforms and actively interacting with more appearance-related content, more anxiety about their bodies, and eating disorders among young men and women. The greater influence of social media seems to only affect the body image of young women, who are more likely to compare their appearance to others.

Anorexia Nervosa disorder is most common in young women, and in any given year, about 0.4 percent of young women are diagnosed with Anorexia. It often develops in response to a stressful life event and other factors such as temperamental, biological, and environmental factors play a role in the development of anorexia nervosa. Bulimia nervosa is a condition in which a person binges (eating large amounts of food in a short period of time) and then attempts to avoid gaining weight by making herself or himself vomit, misusing laxatives or diuretics, fasting, or exercising excessively. Bulimia nervosa occurs more frequently than Anorexia nervosa, with 1.5 percent of women and 0.5 percent of men developing bulimia in their lifetime.  Bulimia typically occurs in adolescence or young adulthood. Anorexia and Bulimia has other side effects such as- low self-esteem and body image, preoccupation with food rituals, compulsive exercises, withdrawal from friends and family, depression, more stress, and overall self-destructive behavior.

Social media platforms aggravate such body image problems in girls from the pressure to look good on sites like Facebook and Instagram to the “pro-ana” (pro-anorexia) and “pro-mia” (pro-bulimia) sites filled with “thinspirational” (a word made up of two words: thin + inspirational) messages and how-to tips. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are not good for women’s self-esteem and women are less likely to be happy with their bodies if they spend more than an hour a day on social media.  These women tend to think thin people are more attractive and may be more self-conscious about how they themselves look.

Some researchers have shown links between body dissatisfaction and eating disorders with exposure to fashion magazines or television shows in women and it has examined exposure to media forms and body image to show that there may be a link between viewing images of thin bodies and personal body dissatisfaction.

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