Last week we looked at the positive impact influential bloggers and you-tubers have on today’s society. However, like most things in life, there is a dark side to the world of social media.
“96% of young women suffering with eating disorders had visited pro-anorexic blogs and pages”. Source: Park Nicollet Melrose Center
With young people aged “8-18years old engaging with a form of social media for 7.5hours a day” this is a massive indication of how prevalent this platform is! Because if a person is spending this amount of time viewing and reading content on social media each day there is no doubting the intensity of the messages they are absorbing and therefore reflect.
In contrast to positive influential bloggers, social media can also be a toxic platform from which other women develop poor body image. This is due to its highly visual nature as well as the interactivity involved. The pictures and imagery of one’s self is ‘liked’ and therefore rated, creating the notion that appearance is central to success.
Photos and selfies are edited and filtered giving an idealistic depiction of a person’s body or life. Professor Susan J Paxton, of La Trobe University, suggests that the collection of ‘likes’ and followers “provides an immediate marker of achievement and popularity. These feed directly into users’ sense of self-worth.”
This is, in my opinion, promoting unrealistic expectation.
An example of this dark side is the viral story of Essena O’Neil. A well-educated, Sunshine Coast teen who had a staggering half a million followers, found herself in deep water under the pressures that came with social media fame.
Known as a beautiful, young woman with a body to envy, Essena endorsed a ‘fit and healthy’ lifestyle, fashion, beauty, travel and veganism. Many young girls and women idolised her and imitated her lifestyle. After 3years of rapid success in her career as an influencer, the teen called it quits and made several admissions about her life behind the cameras/words/promotions – all lies!
In an online video that went global, Essena admitted she was paid to promote products online, would often starve herself daily to look “flawless” in her snapchat snaps and would yell at her younger sister to keep taking photos until she felt the image was worthy of Instagram.
“I took over 100 photos in similar poses trying to make my stomach look good”. Source: Essena O’Neil.
Why I’m REALLY Quitting Social Media – YouTube link
In a similar light to Essena, Sjana Earp is another young influencer envied by women around the globe.
Sjana is a travel, wellness and yoga blogger who has strong beliefs and values about the uniqueness of individuals and being ‘true to who YOU are’. After suffering anxiety, the social media star now aims to “…be so insanely happy, that anyone who comes within 20ft of me can’t help but feel happy too!!”.
However, with credit to her slender frame and long, lean limbs, she detected that her initial messages weren’t quite getting across to young women as they were too caught up in her appearance and thus perceiving she was only happy because of how slim she was.
“I get lots of emails and messages asking how someone can get a body like mine. My question back is why on earth would you want to do that – who will be you ? The world misses out on getting to know another beautifully unique individual and soul if everyone was the same”. Source: Sjana Earp
This led to Sjana receiving hundreds of emails and comments from young women desperately searching for the secrets to having a ‘body like hers’. To end the envy, the influencer told her story, revealing her metabolic condition and how it affects her body and mind. She continues her message of individual beauty and consistently responds to negativity with uplifting messages.
So, where do your thoughts lie?
Have you witnessed the power of unrealistic expectations on social media? How heavily did it effect you and your lifestyle?
More to come on the conundrum that is social media next time!