The Secret Life of Teenagers: How the Media affects Body Image and Self Esteem

Teens in this generation have access to the internet and social media freely. In this day and age, having a phone and WiFi is a necessity for everyday life. The advancement of our time has skyrocketed, but social media and internet sharing can allow teens to do whatever they want, without exposing their own identity. Pictures of instagram models and other influencers can easily lead teens on the wrong path to negative body image and self esteem.   

A person with experience with negative body image through social media is Lindsey Hall, a inspirational speaker at schools and conventions, has been featured in articles by the Washington Post, on the Today Show, Cosmopolitan and more. On her blog, I Haven’t Shaved in Six Weeks, she writes about her rehab experience and her adventures sounds kind of repeataprior.

“The media has been a large source of body insecurity for a lot of people – especially women. It’s only now starting to change, which is great! We are seeing a lot more plus sized models and bigger women on the coers of magazines. Back in early 2000s, it wasn’t the case. And I suffered a lot of insecurity wishing I had the same type of stomach and legs. The media makes it seem like everyone can look the same due to photoshopping, but that is simply not the case.” Says Lindsey.

She also explains that it is easy to “fall down the rabbit hole” of Instagram, but she “Sometimes, of course, I fall into the trap of looking and them and analyzing their bodies to compare it to mine. It’s hard not to. And I think it happens to everyone. For some of my followers on Instagram, they said they were negatively influenced by social media when they found Instagram accounts that showed women hurting starving themselves or engaging in anorexia. They had to be careful to not start following accounts like this and in turn feel like that behavior is acceptable or healthy.”

In interviewing two freshman about their experience with body insecurity, they say that seeing people with body insecurity in everyday lifeeveryday is not rare.

“Whenever I look at social media, I never wish for other people’s bodies. I think that I wish for their confidence and popularity and people could accept me for what I already look like. I think a lot of people experience this same thing – not wanting their body but wanting their popularity.” Says Kate Zerafos, a freshman at Regis.

She also adds a story about one of her close friends who she says she believes to struggle?believes to struggle with body insecurity. She states, “ I don’t know anyone with eating disorders but I do know people who engage in those ideals, for example, my friend, who has a literal six pack is always talking about how fat she is and how much fat she has on her stomach. And everyone’s like, “oh you’re fine.” But I think an image builds up in your mind and your thinking, “they are just saying that.” And then you think that you are still fat. I think all of my friends have unhealthy body images, but nothing super severe.”

Although negative body image can start as a joke or just words, a freshman at Regis says that it can “build up in your head and you can really start to believe it” says Sophia Wurths, a freshman. She also adds that teens now are more focused on “finding a boyfriend” than being themselves. She adds, “Over time, it has become ‘I need to dress sexy’ for this party or for school, which honestly I don’t get in the slightest bit, but like I feel like that is why kids might be influenced by the media to dress maturely because the culture has evolved just to like, ‘I’m freaking out I don’t have a boyfriend’.”

Being influenced by the media is a trend that has evolved over time in a culture of TV shows, movies, social media, and YouTube. These platforms allow for positive creators to share a passion and enjoy what they love to do, but others post and spread knowledge that may not otherwise be appropriate for the younger audience that they spread to. This also applies to sexualizing women through commercials and TV shows, which both Sophia and Kate have strong opinions on.

Kate states, “It portrays women as just a sexual image and not [with] any worth. It prioritizes the men in the audience and the women are just in the background.” Sophia adds, “Honestly, if you are going to use a woman to sell products don’t sexualization them, don’t use them just because of their bodies. Like, have you seen basically any beer commercial? Yeah, no. I don’t agree with that.”

Both girls are fed up with how women are portrayed in the media, and don’t want people thinking of them as just objects.

A student on Instagram
The Secret Life of Teenagers – Audio

Leave a Reply