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Social media creates body image insecurities in college women

By Monique Pearson
On February 24, 2015

There are many factors that contribute to body image dissatisfaction, and young women suffer a great deal because of it.

Studies have shown that girls go through body image insecurities into adulthood, and young women on college campuses show high numbers of those affected.

According to the Industrial Psychiatry Journal, out of 96 study samples from female students, body image satisfaction had a significant relationship with image perception.

Could the pressure to be successful and to look the part help contribute to the cause of young women to see an issue with their physical image?

One factor that could possibly play a huge role in self-image perception in college women could be social media. According to BBC news, young women use social media the most, and research has shown that there is a possibility that looking at friends’ pictures on social media can make a young women insecure.

Shante Heatly, a junior nursing student from St. Petersburg, Fla., believes there is truth in the study. She blames social media for displaying a standard for what women should look like.

“Social media portrays women a certain way and tells us how to look and act,” Heatly said. “Because we want to be found attractive by males, we try to look that way, not realizing that it makes us look like fools. We let society tell us what is acceptable and what is not.”

Research conducted by University of Rochester’s Heidi and Steven Posavac and University of Utah’s Richard Weigel suggests that women make a routine out of comparing their bodies with images contained in the media, and as a result, become less satisfied with their own bodies.

Gaile Holland, a pediatric nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital, works with young women between the ages of 12 and 18, and sees an increase in young women who are obese and are starting to take risky routes to lose weight. Holland thinks there may be a chance that they’re doing it to look like an image they see.

“Some are considering losing the weight the natural way with exercising and a diet,” Holland said. “But then I’m finding more and more, people considering doing the bariatric surgery. The problem with that is, for one, you’re taking health risks. For some it’s necessary. They have to do it, but for many others, it’s a quick fix.

“Their rationale for actually doing it may not be for the right reasons,” Holland said. “It may be because ‘I want to look like the skinny chick in the photo’ or ‘the skinny chick in the video’ or ‘that girl over there in that movie’ as opposed to doing for themselves for their health. They’re doing it as an image that the world has put out as acceptable.”

Crystal Harley, a senior occupational therapy student, feels that society is responsible for how everyone views the “perfect body” on social media.

“The idea of the perfect body image was created by society and it’s obvious by how people take their photos on social media,” Harley said. “However, beauty has no set size or shape.”

Body image insecurities will be prevalent in young women as long as they’re using social media.

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