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The social implications of the rise in social media amongst teenagers, the subsequent detrimental effects on body-image and self-esteem

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29th January 2023
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by Rowan Grosvenor


According to the Child mind institute, depression among teenagers and young adults has undoubtedly become more common, but whether this increase in depression can directly correlate to the rise in social media is still up for debate. I believe that due to the in rise social media use, there has been an increase in self-awareness. Which in some ways can be both beneficial and detrimental. There is a natural human tendency to want to better ones self. Whether that’s in education, in business, in your relationships or just with bettering your aesthetics through the indulgence of materialism. This need to better ones-self is nothing new, it has been around for the whole of human existence. However it is noteworthy in particular, that in the past five years there has been a significant uprising of self-help strategies that have been marketed to adolescents. This idea of wanting to better yourself is supported by stating ‘7 in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members.’ Which suggests a greater insecurity among society, that is ingrained into women in particular.


 How body-types have become their own modern trend cycle

There is a new social pressure of upholding yourself on social media which is something unseen by older generations. Social media has made it almost impossible to avoid insecurity, as there is a constant cycle of brand’s marketing new insecurities to women in particular, in order to profit off society’s shortcomings. Trend cycles have grown increasingly inconsistent and fluctuate, which coincides with the changing of beauty standards. Trend cycles don’t exclude body types, in fact the current fashion trends often coincide with what body-type is considered the most desirable and socially acceptable. According to ‘

Just over one in five adults (22%) and 40% of teenagers said images on social media caused them to worry about their body image’

This demonstrates how social media has catalysed insecurities in young adults, and has made them feel insufficient compared to the ‘perfect’ physiques displayed online. It also suggests that this current generation could have the lowest self-esteem and body-image to date. ‘95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Only 10% of people suffering from an eating disorder will seek professional help’


The idea of body types

This idea of body types being a trend can be seen in the early 2000’s, as the 90’s super model look was extremely popular amongst celebrities like Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, and the Olsen twins. This is when ‘skinny’ was extremely popular, and this appearance was sometimes dangerous to achieve, as it lead some people down the route of unhealthy eating habits in order to maintain the perfect size. Notably, ‘Y2K’ fashion has made it’s way back into popularity in recent years, which also signifies how ‘skinny’ will always be deemed socially acceptable. This faster recurrence of trends also shows how quickly body types can go in and out of fashion, this subsequently puts an immense pressure on teenage girls to mould to new ‘in’ body, regardless of their natural disposition. ‘Just over one third of adults said they had ever felt anxious (34%) or depressed (35%) because of their body image’ sourced from

This ‘skinny’ body type was upheld into the mid 2010’s as of social media platforms such as Tumblr. This platform catalysed unhealthy attitudes to food and body image especially among young impressionable girls. There were posts of ‘thinspiration’ in which girls would share their unnaturally attained thigh gaps, as well as tips to stay skinny, as attaining beauty is unfortunately one of the most significant parts of development as a woman. Skinny was an aesthetic on it’s own right, as clothing was often seen as more fashionable by default just by being worn by a smaller body.


Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash