How Instagram Affects Body Image
Hang on; why single out poor old Instagram for body image scrutiny?
Facebook hardly comes up smelling of roses in any shaming and bullying study.
Nor does Twitter; in fact, 140 characters or less is perfect for most internet trolls and bullies as it encapsulates their entire vocabulary.
So why did Instagram top a recent survey as the worst social media network for mental health and well-being? In a word, photos. Instagram is a photo-based platform; far more so than Facebook or any other popular platform.
What do you get with Instagram?
Photo galleries with comments. You post photos and you follow other people posting photos, often celebrities.
So why is that bad? Well, that depends on who you follow. If you follow landscape photographers, you’ll get lots of lovely shots of lakes and mountains. If you follow chefs, you’ll get beef and beetroot. If you follow the Kardashians, you’ll get another world.
On TV, our concept of reality is constantly distorted by such dire offerings as Real Housewives, Who Wants To Marry A Multi-Millionaire, Jersey Shore and yes, Keeping up with the Kardashians. And while we can’t change reality TV shows, we can choose not to watch and, heaven forbid, compare ourselves to them.
And that’s the start of the problem. Now the comparisons are impossible to avoid; they’re everywhere and faux celebrities on Instagram flaunt them shamelessly and relentlessly. It doesn’t seem to matter that they’re as digitally manipulated as their virtual reality minds. What we see on TV and Instagram is as divorced from their real world as they are.
How does this affect people?
If you grew up before all this, be glad you did. Celebrities start the process by showing kids and young adults what they should look like. Cyber bullies and trolls then tell them why they don’t in cruel and brutal terms.
That’s possibly the worst part: these sites have given the dregs of society anonymous platforms to not only continue, but escalate their abuse.
What’s the answer?
Shut down the Internet? Heaven forbid, we’d all start doing weird things like going outside, having real conversations and seeing our world through a pair of eyes rather than a mobile phone screen.
But that’s not going to happen. Without the internet, nothing we now know as life can survive, be it celebrities, ecommerce, online dating, online education.
The internet is both a blessing and the worst possible curse.
Limit use. That’s about all we can do. The less time people spend on the internet, the less body shaming they’re exposed to.
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