The media became a significant part of human activity that allowed keeping millions of people informed on the latest changes in the surrounding environment. However, the contemporary media do not have any tool to filter the data due to the assumption of the risks associated with the effect of information on the society. Pubescent girls represent a vulnerable segment of society, as it suffers from the influence of social standards regarding idealistic body parameters. TV, magazines, and social networks are the main sources of information, which contribute to the depressive state of mind among the girls. Moreover, teenagers have to undergo the negative influence of low self-esteem, which prevents them from normal development. The media became a source of social standards dictated in the male-dominated era that creates a significant pressure on teenage girls willing to meet social requirements at the expense of poor self-esteem and distorted body image.
Social Norms and Their Effect on Body Image
Social standards have always penetrated into the people’s development regardless of the period in history. Culture, customs, and traditions boost specific expectations about human behavior, appearance, and manners. In fact, the difference between body image and self-esteem is worth outlining, as these notions are not the same. Body image is the way someone thinks and feels about his/her personal body. Self-esteem, in its turn, is the way someone thinks about his/her personal identity and representation in the society in general. The contemporary girls, in their pubescent period, have a significant attachment to the social standards of beauty. The situation continues to escalate under the influence of social media tools that connect people all over the world. In this way, girls involve in the global conversation with other users setting high standards of beautiful bodies, which make it difficult for girls to meet the desired social criteria.
Society is the source of trends, which connects various sociocultural channels including peers, social media sources, and family. The tendency of setting fashion trends with the help of social media led to the development of colossal dissatisfaction among the girls willing to fit the social standards of beauty. Thus, body image became a burning problem among the teenage girls who have to suffer from depression and eating disorders in the continuous struggle to meet social norms. The contemporary popularity of social media tools promotes the development of the depressive state of mind among pubescent girls. As a result, the girls develop unhealthy habits including vomiting, smoking, fasting, skipping meals, and taking laxatives. All attempts to improve their personal body lead to the worsening of self-esteem and body image. Social media is a platform that absorbs human needs, thoughts, and demands, and transforms them into widespread social standards, which do not except individuals not meeting social criteria. The dependence of the contemporary teenage girls on social media tools is enormous, and this issue requires additional examination in order to see the whole specter of influence.
The Role of Media in Social and Personal Expectations
Since digital era made the media an outlining part of human development, the contemporary teenagers cannot avoid watching TV shows and discussing them with peers with the help of social media tools. TV shows depend on the fashion industry and adhere to the latest trends aiming to attract attention of the audience with skinny models, unnatural beauty parameters, and extreme body transformations. Social networks is another result of social media development, which unites millions of teenagers within the Internet space. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and other social networks focused on sharing pictures with short messages are the reasons of body image distortion. Today, teenagers tend to spend much time chatting with their peers, scrolling the news feed, or watching videos with the latest fashion trends demonstrated by skinny models. Celebrities, including models and actors, reflect the societal dependence on social norms and standards. Teenage girls are dreaming of getting the body of their dream while denying the beauty of their current body parameters. Social networks only foster the development of extreme diet plans and excessive exercising, which promise to be helpful in getting the bodies of their dreams. As a result, Internet users tend to collect inspirational images that encourage them to struggle for idealistic parameters according to social expectations.
Personal expectations are formulated under the influence of media in a complex way. Advertising and social networks have a dubious effect on personal perception of the perfect body parameters. The purpose of beauty trends and body parameters requirements is to meet the standards of the patriarchal society. Male-dominated era made it necessary for every woman to strive for the men’s attention. All these aspects lead to the development of the negative perception of personal body image, which depends on the social standards streaming from media sources.
The Development of Poor Self-Esteem
The distortion of body image is only a part of the negative influence of media on the personality. Pubescent girl still do not have a stable personality, which could ensure protection from social standards leading to the destruction of their self-esteem. The lack of experience also prevents them from seeing the truth behind every media source insisting on changing personal body. The media encounter continuous reflection of social expectations in TV shows, magazines, and social networks, which become the reasons of poor self-esteem. The destruction of personal positive image happens for several reasons.
First, once girls discovered that they do not meet social criteria of body parameters and beauty, they start believing that they cannot succeed in any sphere of life if other people do not find them appealing. It happens due to the pressure that continues to put a person in a depressive state of mind, since it became obvious that personal body is inconsistent with certain social standards. A low self-esteem does not allow an individual to develop in the sphere of life that he or she may find appealing. Instead, an individual relies on the information from media sources, which inspire to work only on body standards satisfying solely the social requirements.
Second, the longer the struggle with personal body parameters, the more social norms represent a threat to the normal self-esteem. In the majority of cases, girls suffering from the distortion of body image find it difficult to communicate with others believing that other people reject them as individuals due to their inconsistency with the social norms. Continuous focus on the ability to impress others with personal body leads to the ignorance of other important areas of personality development including knowledge, communication skills, and values. In this way, self-esteem gets low enough to ensure an individual that nothing is possible until the social standards are met.
Long-term Effects of Poor Self-Esteem
The psychologists find it natural to feel negative emotions about personal life. However, continuous focus on negativity may have bad repercussions on an individual. Teenage girls are the most vulnerable to the effects of depression, anxiety, and dissatisfaction related to the body image. A short overview of the most widespread complications of addictive behaviors related to the improvement of body parameters at the expense of personal health shows a realistic picture of the future challenges.
First, poor self-esteem leads to continuous negative mood, which prevents a person from the normal interaction with other people. For teenage girls it means alienation from peers and parents, which hinders a balanced personality development. Mood swings may also occur ranging from anger to anxiety as well as from sadness to shame. All these negative emotions lead to low motivation, and this factor does not allow engaging in any activity of interest.
Second, an individual with a poor self-esteem finds it difficult to communicate with others. It happens because he or she prefers staying in a comfort zone, which does not allow others to judge an individual according to social standards. Every new relationship or activity seems to be inappropriate due to the lack of confidence. As a result, an individual believes that none of the dreams can possibly come true, because he or she does not deserve it.
Finally, poor self-esteem makes it impossible to handle the negative influence of personal body image on routine activities. Moreover, it means that the person does not see any positive aspects about personal individuality. In combination with a depressive state of mind, it seems that nothing could improve the situation. The most severe cases of poor self-esteem require psychological support and appropriate therapy. Otherwise, the consequences may be rather disappointing or even tragic.
The influence of media on the establishment of social standards is inevitable. The contemporary society heavily relies on the information coming from media sources. Currently, this urgent problem threatens healthy development of teenage girls. Social media became a source of social standards of the body parameters, which has a negative influence on the self-esteem and body image. Pubescent girls lack experience in filtering information coming from the surrounding environment. As a result, they find information from TV, magazines, and social networks reliable enough to ensure that without body changes they will not succeed in life. The media pose a threat to self-esteem and appropriate body image, which should support formulation of the personality instead of preventing it from the positive influence of interactions with the surrounding world.