Table 2.1 Social Media 2.2 Body Shaming

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table
of contents

 

 

 

1.     Introduction

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2.     Definition

2.1  Social
Media

2.2  Body
Shaming

3.     Psychological
Effect

3.1  Impact
on Society

3.2  Instagram
as an example– Maslow

3.3  Effect
on teenagers

4.     The
Concept of Beauty in the Eye of Social Media and Socialization

5.     Common
Consequences

5.1  Body
Dissatisfaction

5.2  Mental
Health

5.3  Eating
disorders

6.     Conclusion

7.     References

8.     Appendices

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

In July 2016, the playboy model Dani Marthers was
blamed for taking a selfie of her and a naked woman in a fitness studio. The
image shows her, covering the mouth with her hand, and a caption which says,
‘if I can’t unsee this than you can’t either’. Subsequently she posted this
picture on Snapchat without the woman’s permission and a wave of indignation by
her fans was followed. Later, the model has been accused for body shaming the
other woman and for violation of privacy. What could be a reason for such
behavior? Did this action affect the victim?

Many people shame and judge others because they have
determined their own definition of beauty and only consider people and objects
as beautiful if they fit to their concept. Living in the 21st
century, social media has gained prevalence over the past century in the
society due to digitalization as electronics became more relevant to human
necessities in an everyday life. With the increasing value of social media, the
interaction between people over social network communities, such as Facebook,
Instagram or Twitter, has gained much significance as well.

Despite more people creating profiles on social network
platforms, this behavior eases the communication between human beings, it
facilitates to express their own opinion. The reason is that the opinion does
not get directly delivered face –to –face, but electronically with an online
post or a text message. When talking about body shaming, meaning to criticize
someone based on their looks, and social media, does social media ‘support’ or contributes
body shaming as it is easier for people to comment, express and share their
opinion online, respectively, what effect has social media to body shaming/ how
does social media effect body shaming? This research paper discusses the impact
of social media, specifically its communication platforms, on people’s behavior
to body shame, whether it contributes to such kind of act or is spreading awareness.

 

Abstract

Body shaming is criticism based on someone’s body
shape and size. Therefore there are three different kinds of shaming someone
which is self-shaming, direct shaming and the indirect shaming. This paper
reviews research done on social media and how it affects body shaming. Social
media plays a great role influencing body shaming, since it sets the standard
for what is considered beautiful based on models and celebrities uploading
pictures on the internet. It is key to note the harmful effects body shaming
has on the mindset of people, especially teenagers. It is also important to
think of ways to prevent body shaming or reduce the negative effects it has on
society.

 

Definitions

 

–      
Social Media

 

More than just a
social community, social media connects people with other people who have
access to the global network, for example over social networks like Facebook or
Instagram. Additionally, it includes a variety of platforms and tools which
conduces communication, interaction and exchange of contents and information.
Which are social networks, video platforms, mobile communities, forums, blogs,
social bookmarking and open-source-platforms. Therefore the Social Web provides
four kinds of communication which are Many-to-many-communication, One-to-many-communication,
One-to-one-communication and Many-to-one-communication.

The
Many-to-many-communication functioned as followed: As social media offers users
the possibility to create capacity and share it through different channels.
Applying it to this communication-style, a user produces content whereas an
exchange of different opinions follows. The discussions occurs among other
users and has not time limited, meaning that it is eternal. 

The
One-to-many-communication, compared to the Many-to-many-communication is no
longer fashionable. In which one user communicates to many users. This is especially
seen in the concept of mass communication. For example, an advertisement is
shown through television. Many people will see this content as many human
beings have access to television. The advertisement delivers information to a
mass of people, but mostly, viewers, respectively, the mass is not able to
respond to the advertisement.

One-to-one-communication
is about one user speaking to one other user of the social web. A typical
example for this is, a friend messaging one other friend over WhatsApp.

            Many-to-one-communication is
explained as users transmit messages or information and other users obtain the
medium but the user receiving it does not know the user who was sending it. The
person stays anonymous.

 

 

–      
Body
shaming

 

Body shaming is criticism based on someone’s body
shape and size. Therefore there are three different kinds of shaming someone
which is self-shaming, direct shaming and the indirect shaming.

            Self-shaming
contains the criticism on oneself. These people do not consider themselves as
beautiful. Many reasons appear for such characteristic like the comparison to
somebody else or the admiration of somebody. For example, a girl is a fan of a
celebrity. She wants to imitate her, and so, her body as well. On the other
hand the celebrity has a skinny body. To the girl’s realization, she does not
has the same body shape and starts shaming herself.

            With
direct shaming, people express their act of shaming directly to the “victim’s”.
For instance, a student thinks that his class mate is too fat. Therefore he
goes to him and shames the class mate directly.

            The
indirect shaming illustrates the shame of a person behind the back. Which means
that the victim gets criticized without their knowledge. A typical example is
an inappropriate talk between two people, containing body shame, without the
person who they talk about is present.

The concept of shaming arises from the cognitive
processes that take place in the minds of individuals. Different standards of
beauty across the globe give space to potential conflict in ideas and
acceptance of what it means to be beautiful. For example, in some countries in
Africa, it is deemed more attractive when the males are slightly overweight
because it shows that they have wealth. Another example is in the United
States, where celebrities serve as the ideal body type for the common people
and when people are not like the celebrities then they are shamed.

 

Causes of body shaming

 

            There
are three ways where body shaming can be viewed. One is criticizing your own
appearance, criticizing someone behind their back, and criticizing someone in
front of them. Criticism your own appearance is caused by self-esteem issues
that are influenced by friends and family as well as media outlets. All of
society combined plays a role in defining many boundaries of daily life including
body standards. When one does not feel comfortable in their skin, they tend to
body shame themselves by comparing themselves to another person. Criticism done
directly in front of someone can be caused by envy, hate, or anger towards the
other person. If one person feels they need to hurt the other, they can choose
something in the other person’s body that does not fit societal standards and
body shame them. Criticizing someone behind their back is also due to a person
being upset, annoyed, or intimidated. This is something that may have been kept
inside of people since adolescence where it feels easiest to hurt someone when
revenge is at hand. However, instead of physically hurting them, many people
resort to body shaming. Body shaming can also be caused by the lack of
confidence to confront the person and tell them why there is emotional conflict
between them. Saying things such as “I’m scared to lose this friendship” shows
a vulnerability that many people would like to avoid showing.

 

            Another
important aspect that can be a cause for body shaming is within Maslow’s
hierarchy of needs. Since many people want to feel love and belonging, they
thrive to do anything in order to fit in. This comes through following the
norms of society and following what friends and family suggest in order to feel
loved. People will try their hardest to belong into society, therefore many
people will take extreme measures to accomplish this. This can be seen in
depression and eating disorders due to the inability to accomplish their goal
although they are trying their hardest to. People need a sense of belonging and
therefore it is essential to follow what they believe is the perfect body
image. People that body shame others can also be related to Maslow’s pyramid.
This is because one of the levels is esteem. When people have low self-esteem
and want to increase it, they do so by either trying to make themselves look
better or by hurting the others around them in order to gain the feeling of
power and self-worth. People with low self-esteem need respect from others, and
may feel the need to seek this respect in any way possible. The highest level
in the pyramid is self-actualization. This refers to what a person’s potential
entails and what he can truly become. This is something that people should
understand instead of focusing on gaining self-esteem through body shaming
others. With that in mind, technology has greatly affected many of what Maslow
might have thought of before and can be seen through social media today.

 

  

 

 

 Impact on
Society

 

As mentioned previously, different societies have
different standards of beauty. Therefore, which bodies are acceptable vary
depending on the country. The psychology of an entire society can be affected
by who the people in control are. How celebrities portray themselves is how
others in society want to portray themselves. For example, if a model or
actress has a slim body, then everyone that does not follow this ideal body
type becomes body shamed. This can have a largely negative impact, especially
on younger girls in school. Girls in school compete with each other naturally,
and giving them a reason to compete is body size/type. Girls will then suffer
from insults and degradation by their peers.

            Movies,
TV shows, and news resources become affected by each other as the years
progress. One society may have a certain ideal of body image, however over time
certain movies or scenes on the television and internet can reshape what they
believe is ideal. The internet serves as a large source of body shaming since
so many members of society contribute to it on social media platforms. An
example of this would be when someone posts a picture of a peer on the internet
in order to body shame them and others in their group contribute to insulting
and degrading the victim. This causes major psychological problems for the
victims.

 

    Social
Media’s effect on Psychology – Instagram

           

            Body
image dissatisfaction and the fear of being fat are two concerns that arise
from body shaming. These issues are becoming more prominent in today’s society
as social media platforms are becoming more accessible to all. Research shows
that there is a link between media exposure and body dissatisfaction. Social
media platforms such as Instagram allow for access to plenty of idealized body
images. Models and celebrities posting pictures of themselves on Instagram
create a false sense of what is acceptable as body standards. This causes
plenty of people that do not fit these criteria to be body shamed and harassed.
According to statistics, people aged between 16-24 are the most active
Instagram users. This becomes a problem since at such a young age, they are
very easily manipulated and their psychology can be greatly affected.

 

   Challenges
put on social media platforms

 

            Throughout
the years, many challenges have emerged on social media to prove beauty. Some
of these challenges include the collarbone challenge, bellybutton challenge,
Kylie Jenner lip challenge, Thigh-gap challenge, and the finger trap challenge.

            The
collarbone challenge was in China, where thousands of women uploaded pictures
of themselves holding coins on their collarbones. According to the social media
challenge, the more coins that the women could stack on their collarbones, the
more attractive they were.

            The
bellybutton challenge involved women being able to touch their bellybutton by
putting their arm around their back. If they were able to do this, they were
deemed beautiful by the challenge and as having the perfect figure.

            The
Kylie Jenner lip challenge involved many people attempting to replicate the
famous celebrity’s lips using suction methods. This was viral on social media
and lead to many people causing damage to their lips.

            The
thigh-gap challenge was one where if there was a gap between the thighs of  a woman, then she is more attractive. The
bigger the gap, the more attractive she is. Finally, the finger trap challenge
involved women in China putting their index finger on their chin and seeing if
it touches their nose. If so, then they were considered beautiful.

            All
of these challenges are examples of how social media can have an effect on body
image and can in turn create large problems in society for people who do not
fit to these unrealistic standards.

           

    Effect on Teenagers

           

            As
mentioned above, The age group in which body shaming is mostly affecting
psychology is around the teenage years. Cyberbullies use body shaming to target
men and women who do not meet the standards of beauty in their society. Body
shaming has a hugely negative effect on teenagers and can cause mental problems
and disorders. Since teenagers are at a time where they are shaping their lives
and what others think is very important to them, they are increasingly
vulnerable to body shaming caused by bullies in their society. Since social
media displays that being thin for women, and muscular and fit for men is the
ideal standard, this causes teenagers to feel that they are unsatisfactory.
Teenagers do not understand that some things are not in their control. For
example, women might be shamed for having small breasts or large thighs, and so
on. However, many of these are genetically based and cannot be changed
immediately with a switch of a button. Teenagers are simply overly exposed to
these ideals and are not being taught or guided to think otherwise.

 

The Concept of Beauty in the Eye of Social Media and
Socialization

 

            Socialization
through             the internet has
caused unlimited public access to many people’s lives and daily routines.
Cyberbullies now have a platform to publicly insult people while being
anonymous and inflicting damage without repercussions. Although many societies
still maintain certain ideals of body image, nowadays, the rise of social media
has caused a more centralized image of what it means to be beautiful. For
example, a culture that embraces being over-weight, may now change due to
access to social media as the younger generations view what the western world
shows and reflects upon that.

 

Common Consequences of social media’s body standards

 

            Media
has a large role in creating a negative body image among individuals. This has
consequences, including body dissatisfaction, mental health problems, as well
as eating disorders. Research shows that females who are exposed to beauty
standards on social media were more dissatisfied with their bodies than females
who weren’t. Many of these media outlets emphasize on the women’s physical characteristics
such as face or bone structure, or clothing. Instead of focusing on
intelligence, this focus on physical characteristics causes women who are not
fitting the standards to feel dissatisfied with their bodies. These media
outlets create a sense of comparison between the viewers and the people being
presented by the media. The people viewing this information will strive and set
goals in order to achieve this body image that they assume is desired by their
society.

            Eating
disorders include anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia is when someone views
themselves as overweight and starve themselves from food. They truly believe
that they are overweight even when looking at a mirror and always want to lose
more weight. Bulimia is the act of forcefully throwing up food after eating in
order to prevent weight gain. Bulimics feel that they can eat whatever they
want and then throw it up after in order to not gain weight. Both of these
eating disorders are very dangerous as they can cause many other problems
including death. Many people die yearly of anorexia and many others suffer
internal problems due to bulimic actions. Throwing up constantly causes damage
to the throat and esophagus which can lead to many health complications. Any
thought of the person not being the “ideal” weight can cause them to continue
these eating disorders. This is largely found in younger people and especially
females as they feel that their body figures aren’t satisfactory to societies
expectations.

 

Preventing body shaming

           

            Expressing
true feelings instead of physical criticism can help reduce body shaming. Many
people have problems expressing frustration without body shaming, therefore
some way of educating people on how to express themselves can go a long way. A
change in the media can help influence societal 
norms in order to prevent mental illnesses and food disorders. This
would also decrease bullying and body shaming caused in public environments.
More regulation on the internet can also allow for less body shaming, such as
removing hateful comments on social media platforms. Also following a role
model who is not afraid of how they look can serve as a great deterrent to the
harm done by body shaming. There is always something someone can find in their
body that they like and can embrace that in order to become more confident and
avoid being hurt by body shaming.

 

Conclusion

           

            Body
shaming appeared due to societal norms. Without societies believing in a
certain body shape as the most beautiful, there would be no body shaming.
Starting at a young age, children are told what it means to be beautiful by
family and friends, and as they grow older they are exposed to media such as
television and the internet. Social media has also taken a large role in
defining physical beauty and has created many of today’s body shaming problems.
Social media outlets such as Instagram allow for people to see what society
considers to be the most beautiful body type and thus try to conform to the
norms. This causes great stress on people that do not have the “perfect” body
since they try much harder to fit into society. This has a large effect on the
psychology of the society as a whole. Many are affected through mental
illnesses and eating disorders, as well as being exposed to many forms of
bullying. Many today are dissatisfied with the way they appear and would like
to change that. This is something that we should aim to change as a society
through better influences on television and social media, as well as better parenting
in order to help younger people appreciate their body no matter how it may
appear. 

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