Social media must encourage body positivity

Inclusive images can support teen mental health

Social media apps like TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat have users all around the world, drawing millions of teenagers and young adults to their platforms. 

On Tik Tok’s “for you” page and Instagram’s “explore” page, celebrities are often depicted in photoshopped or misleading body images that set unrealistic standards for young people. Although some social media users and influencers work to normalize real bodies on these platforms, social media must include more representation of body positivity and inclusivity because that  encourages men and women to accept all bodies regardless of size, race, or appearance. Social media services and creators have a responsibility to emphasize the body positivity movement because of  their large adolescent following and desire to create positive change. 

For teenagers, going online to see hundreds of people who are perfect or beautiful is damaging to self-esteem, especially if these icons look different from the majority of users. 

In a 2017 survey by The European Scientific Journal, results showed that one hour spent on Facebook daily results in a significant decrease in the self-esteem score of an individual. Body positivity embraces our differences and encourages all people to feel beautiful with their unique appearances.

“I think it’s important that celebrities and influencers use their platforms to encourage body positivity because they can use their fame for something good and actually help people,” Miramonte senior Lindsay Hemming said. 

TikTokers Sienna Mae Gomez and Victoria Garrick have gained millions of followers for spreading this positive message by depicting themselves without filters, photoshop, or deceptive images to enhance their appearances. Both women post videos encouraging others to love themselves, accept their imperfections, and set a perfect example of how body positivity should be found online.

Gomez’s first TikTok, posted Aug. 15, brought her fame with over 19 million views. Since then, she has garnered over nine million followers on the app. Though Gomez’s TikTok account was created for fun — her first post being a video of her dancing with her stomach out — it grew into an amazing way for her to encourage others to normalize body positivity, and not just on social media.

 “I definitely don’t want this movement to be a trend. This should actually change people’s lives,” Gomez said in an interview with Access Hollywood. Her work is especially important for helping people become satisfied with their bodies, and similar messages need to be more widely spread to maximize the effects of this positivity, even at Miramonte.

“I think Sienna does a really good job of spreading positivity and other creators should do the same,” Hemming said. 

Garrick is spreading a similar message of normalizing all body types. “It’s really been exciting to see so many women of all different shapes and sizes, all different backgrounds, coming together posting videos really just celebrating our bodies. This idea that we have to look a certain way is on it’s way out,” Garrick said to Access Hollywood.  Garrick’s creation of positive change on social media is exactly what needs to happen on all other platforms.

With influencers like Garrick and Gomez, there is hope that body positivity will not just be a trend and will instead become a long-lasting movement. 

However, there are still so many unrealistic standards on social media about size and appearance. It is imperative that influencers are transparent with their viewers about the use of photoshop, showing people that not everything online is raw and unaltered. More people should speak out and spread realistic body images, especially on social media. 

“I definitely agree that there should be more inclusivity on social media. I think it’s pretty harmful for people to see photoshopped images and try to look like that,” Miramonte’s Hemming said. 

Men and women across the world deserve to be uplifted and celebrated for their uniqueness and not held to an unreachable standard of beauty. Social media users need to take the first step and encourage body positivity by avoiding the spread of photoshopped images and supporting body positivity activists like Gomez and Garrick.