The Toxic Effects of Social Media & Cyberbullying on Body Image

The Toxic Effects of Social Media & Cyberbullying on Body Image

The Negative Effects of Social Media on Body Image

After all the significant changes the body-positive movement has created, it helps us gain perspective to look back and see how far we have come as a society. I tend to stop momentarily and appreciate the power we all have had in reshaping societal beauty standards and redefining beauty as we know it.

However, there is still a long road ahead, especially with the pervasive influence of social media. It is well-known that body positivity on social media is a very divisive topic. A significant percentage of individuals still support a distorted way of looking at others and themselves too, with hostility most directed at the plus-size community. Scrolling through a plus size woman’s Insta or Facebook page, it is hard not to notice hurtful comments shaming her for showing some skin with many claiming women beyond a certain size should not show their bodies to the world. Where do you stand on this issue?

The relentless exposure to altered/doctored images portraying an unattainable aesthetic has led to yet another set of unrealistic beauty standards and comparisons to the point of creating a whole new level of body insecurities.

There is also the question of body shaming.

The Toxic Effects of Social Media on Body Image

Social media can empower and spread messages of hope, love, and body positivity. However, in the wrong hands, social media can do more harm than good, especially when it comes to body-shaming and cyberbullying. In fact, social media platforms have created the perfect playground for cyberbullies. Those striving to achieve an unattainable body standard and children with impressionable minds are most vulnerable to various forms of cyberbullying. In the meanwhile, tech savvy people distort body image by creating magic – images depicting flawless beauty and unattainable body standards - with the power of the vastness of picture-editing tools. In turn, the negative effects of social media go beyond what they seem on the surface, causing emotional damage that is typically well concealed, but often manifested in subtly harmful behavioral patterns.

Striving to meet unattainable societal expectations undoubtedly produces unfavorable results. If you present anything less than a perfect visage, you may be subject to body shaming and ridicule just for being yourself, especially if you are a curvy or plus size gal. Fat phobic cyber trolls are a dime-a-dozen!

The Myriad Negative Consequences of Body Shaming

Words have weight and power. One of the biggest impacts of the negative social media experience is its adverse effects on mental health. At a certain point, it develops into something much more than body insecurities. The cyberbullied are vulnerable to feelings of low self-worth, extreme self-loathing, dangerous habits, eating disorders, social isolation, and suicidal ideations.

A Few Self-Empowerment Tips to Combat This Dangerous Trend

There is a way to overpower the negative impact of social media and cyberbullying. Yes, the toxic effects may seem daunting, but it is still possible to cultivate a healthier and happier relationship – it is the only way to combat this dangerous trend. If you are seeking empowerment tips, here are five that encourage body diversity and a body-positive image:

  •         Keep an offline connection – invest more time in cultivating relationships that mean more and are outside the realm of social media.
  •         Engage in positivity – positive self-talk focuses on all the unique qualities you can offer and makes you invest in your overall well-being.
  •         Practice mindful consumption – be aware of the content you follow because it might consume you. Do not allow body shaming to creep up on you.
  •         Look for support – if social media impacts your health, talking to a professional might help.

Cultivate a healthy relationship with yourself – outside the ring the social media has created, recognize the virtual world, but always extend far beyond appearances. Promote a positive body image and, most importantly, believe in yourself. 

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