Toxic Social Media Culture

Girls bodies are categorized as fruits. A “banana” is rectangular, a “pear” is bottom heavy, and an “apple” is top heavy. Perhaps the fruit metaphors were designed to convey to women that no body type is superior to another and all are equally sweet. Or maybe, they are just another way to objectify women's bodies. I don’t know what the deal with the fruit metaphor is; all I know is that whether banana, pear, or apple, no girl thinks her body is beautiful. I attribute a great deal of this problem to social media.

Social media forces women to constantly compare themselves to photo-shopped pictures of tissue-eating, Dogpound-going models. Women “learn” that their body is not beautiful because it is not the same as those of Bella and Gigi Hadid. While we may understand that posts are fictitious, our mental health is nevertheless affected. For example, when I look at Instagram profiles, I am aware that they are carefully curated and edited to reflect only the best hair days, placed in the most glamorous settings. However, my logical mind is overwhelmed by the power of the images. I feel inferior because the profile describes a life that is “better” than mine. In a convoluted attempt to combat this insecurity, I create a fictitious profile of my own. I want my life to seem as perfect as everyone else’s, so I include only pictures of me posing at popular nightclubs in Manhattan or lounging on the beach in St. Tropez. While my friends’ profiles make me insecure, my profile now does the same thing to them, creating a cycle of toxicity. In addition, while my creation of a fictitious profile emerged as a solution to my Instagram insecurities, in the end it only furthers them. I tell myself that if I feel the need to tell a story of my life that is not based in reality, there must be something wrong with my reality.

In response to this issue, perhaps everyone should simply delete their profiles and commit to collectively creating profiles that are real. However, I do not believe that the solution to the toxic culture around social media, lies in profile reform. Platforms, such as Instagram, do not lend themselves to reality. It is okay to look ugly or tired or sloppy sometimes. But, who wants ugly pictures of themselves on the Internet for everyone to see? I am not sure that this would make any of us feel much better. Thus, I think social media’s inherent nature warrants apprehension. I hope that at some point in the future social media becomes a tool to promote mental health and women’s belief in the beauty of their unique and individual bodies. But in the meantime, remember what you see is not what actually is, so try not to let the images upset you.