By Lydia Hulko‘24

Photo Illustration: Wikimedia Commons, edited

We all use social media, although have you actually thought about how it is impacting us on a day to day basis. Our teenage lives revolve a lot around social events, social media, the things that we do, and the personal goals that we have for ourselves and our bodies, are widely influenced on the people and things that we see on our social media. 

I talked to some of the faculty on campus and asked them what they thought of social media, and its influence on our mental health. I spoke with Spanish teacher Señora Cummings, from the Spanish department and Mrs. Brown in the counseling department. 

“Social media is like a double edge sword,” Señora Cummings said. “Really important for some people in certain situations, but I also see how much pain it causes my students.” 

“I think especially it affects girls and women because of this idea in society of perfection or this idea of having to look a certain way or be a certain way,” Mrs. Brown said. 

Mrs. Brown says girls feel like they need to change themselves in order to be “better” or seem “perfect” to others especially on social media, which can cause many different mental health issues. 

Fashion, makeup, and style trends heavily influence young girls in our community. Señora Cummings said that as a teacher she could see the pressure build on her students because of this “hyper-sexualized online world.” 

I think that getting the perspective of the faculty that work with us everyday and see our interactions on a day to day basis is important because they have an outside view of our lives and they can see how we change with our class, with trends, and social media styles, etc. 

You can tell that both talk about how social media strongly affects girls mental health because of all the high standards that we are being held under through social media, and various media trends. 

When I talked with Señora Cummings and Mrs. Brown we discussed how social media is over sexualized and how it has changed the beauty standard for young girls. But also these “beauty standards” do more harm than good and can cause young girls to be insecure about their bodies or start having body dysmorphia at a very young age, and could cause eating disorders later on in their lives. 

According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD), nine percent of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime. 

What was really shocking to me as I was researching this topic was how much girls are affected by these issues from such a young age. Forty-two percent of girls in first to third grade want to be thinner. Let’s think about this for a second six to nine year old are already worried about their bodies and their appearance. Moving up the age range a little 35-57 percent of teenage girls crash diets, fasting, self induced vomiting, diet pills and or laxatives. These girls are purposely harming themselves to match these unrealistic body standards. And when we go to college it doesn’t just go away, in fact in a recent college campus survey, 91 percent of the women on campus admitted to controlling their body weight using diets. 

Lets be honest, we are probably not going to stop using social media. We hear the same things over and over again from adults in our lives, and we ignore them, but what if we tried listening? Let’s not allow social media to have a hold on us and control us. What if we made more of an effort to show young girls that they are beautiful just the way they are? And what if we encouraged each other to realize that we don’t need to look like these famous people on the internet? Because we are perfect just the way we are. 

It can be hard to ignore it when it is everywhere, but normalizing just being yourself without having to overshare on the internet can save so many young girls from having to go through what too many American girls are going through. 

Something to think about when you catch yourself scrolling for hours.