The Negative Effects Facebook Has On Adolescent Girls Body Image
Adolescence marks a time of intense emotional in physical changes. There is an increased value place on peer approval and acceptance, and a heightened attention to wanting to fit in with what is considered to be the “norm”. During this developmental phase adolescents begin to focus more on their physical appearance. How adolescents typically tend to formulate and define their body image ideals and self-comparisons is strongly influenced by personal, familial, and cultural factors. However, social media is contradicting these good health practices for an adolescent to develop a healthy body image. Facebook in particular is affecting adolescent girls body image in a negative way; and as a result, teens are at a high risk to strive to change themselves even at the cost of their health and happiness.
Facebook promulgates dangerous trends that set unrealistic and unhealthy standards for many adolescent teenage girls. An example of one of these trends is the thigh gap phenomenon which is when “your thighs don’t touch when you stand with your feet together” (Sinkler, 2015, p. 32). Using models and beautiful women Facebook promotes that this is the ideal body image, which suggests to the average teen that in order to be considered beautiful, she too must look like what she sees in these ads. This trend encourages teenage girls to pursue the thigh gap, which for many people is physically impossible to achieve no matter how much they weigh because it is determined by genetics, bone structure, shape of the pelvic girdle, and how far apart the hipbones are. However, many young women on Facebook are under the impression that with diet and exercise this body shape is attainable.
Many adolescents are turning to Facebook to gain a sense of acceptance on how they look and determining that based on how many “likes” they get on their photos. On Facebook liking a photo is one of the most easily conducted, common, and simple forms of activity. The Facebook Help feature explains that clicking the “like” button on a post or a photo “is an easy way to let someone know that you enjoy it, without leaving a comment. Just like a comment though, the fact that you liked the post is visible below it” (2007). For many adolescent girls when posting a photo on Facebook the line between a “like” and a feeling ranked can become blurred. Collecting “likes” provides an immediate marker of achievement, popularity, and attractiveness. These feed directly into users sense of self-worth and the way they feel about there overall body image. Cornell University conducted a study where they asked 250 active Facebook users from around the United States how many likes they typically got on photos they posted. The users who usually got more likes on their photos tended to have a higher self-esteem and felt more positive about the way there body looked compared to users who got less likes on their photos.