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Young Womanhood In The Age Of Social Media Psychology Honors Research Paper

5000 words - 20 pages

Why Can’t I Love Myself And Be Who I Am: Transforming the
Plight of Young Womanhood In the Age of Social Media
Jessica Yellen
Dr. Joseph M. Pirone
Psychology Honors
December, 2017
1
Abstract
Technology has taken over the world. Everyone, from preteens to adults, either has a
smartphone or tablet, which are primarily used for communication. There are multiple ways to
communicate on smart devices, but a main source of communication is social media. Popular
social media networks today include: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat. The
demographic of social media users mostly include teenagers, or young adolescents. Social media
has created problems for these young adolescents, particularly young women. Some of these
problems include: altered body image, sexualization and objectification of young women, and
cyberbullying. These social issues then lead to psychological issues in these young women,
including: altered identity, eating disorders, social anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Becoming a young woman is challenging, especially since young women go through puberty
earlier than boys. Their bodies are changing drastically and rapidly, and it is difficult for a young
woman to find herself. Social media standards can negatively affect her mental development in
addition to what she is already going through physically: puberty. This simultaneous mental and
physical development can be overwhelming for the young girl, hence the potential for her to
experience these problems. To adults, including parents of young women, social media seems
harmless to their child. However, these issues are extremely hazardous. They are real world
problems that need to be addressed and contained immediately. Luckily there are many potential
solutions to these problems: schools can teach about the dangers of social media in health
classes, the modeling industry can be revolutionized, cyberbullying laws can be more heavily
enforced, and young women and their parents can use social media in a positive way to create
support groups.
2
Problem: Body Image
Today’s view of body image has caused young women to suffer from eating disorders
and lose their own sense of identity. Social media standards require models to have no fat on
their abdomen and arms, yet have plenty of fat on their legs, breasts, and buttocks. The standard
is unrealistic and unhealthy, and cannot be achieved without surgery. Therefore, young women
are confused as to what they should look like, and how they should achieve this image. Young
women often turn to starving themselves, or vomiting up the food they eat. These conditions are
eating disorders known as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa (anorexia involving
self-starvation and bulimia involving binge-eating followed by purging or vomiting), which have
increased 5% over the past three decades (Tenore, 1). This statistic is most likely due to social
media’s body image standards, since social media first emerged about three decades ago in the...

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