How social media has affected my body expectations

Because I’m not a size eight, I’m not ‘normal’


For a long time, social media has demanded completely unrealistic expectations from women. It’s taken over our lives and continues to encourage women to be obsessed in keeping up with the latest body trends, especially via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Although the ‘ideal body’ portrayed on the media has varied over the years, one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that these body expectations are intimidating and may have a crippling effect on a women’s self-esteem.

To be honest, in recent years the media has accepted that women who are naturally curvier are just as beautiful as women who are smaller. However, social media subtly emphasises that to be thin, tall and a size 8 is still considered to be more desirable. In other words, if you have the body of a model, then you have the ultimate body. For example, a recent swimwear advertisement for SimplyBe presented perfectly average sized models as “plus sizes” starting from size 12-32. Since when are you a plus size if you are a size 12? Most of my friends and people I know are a size 12- this categorisation is degrading, in fact, there shouldn’t even be a separate label for plus sizes. The media should represent all shapes and sizes as equal and not display size eight as the norm. Because I’m not size eight, I’m not normal.

Another body expectation that has recently been fuelled by social media, is a toned figure. Going to the gym is obviously a great form of exercise and to keep generally fit, but then women are now under pressure to have a perfect set of abs – like every beach beauty on Instagram. I don’t have a toned body but seeing pictures and videos of girls that do on my feed every day is starting to make me see myself as fat. There are even video tutorials plastered on Instagram especially, of girls drawing and contouring abs onto their stomachs. Girls, please do not waste your time, money and makeup to fake looking toned.

It’s just like Kylie Jenner’s lips. I follow her Instagram, her Snapchat, her Twitter, but it’s easy to become obsessed with her look, and easier still to buy into the bullshit and ruining your lips with cheap “Kylie-esque” lip enhancer products and hacks.

Pouting like Kylie Jenner

Pouting like Kylie Jenner

And it’s not just our bodies, but our make-up as well. We’re expected to have immaculately shaped eyebrows, flawless contouring, big eyelashes and so on. There are so many do’s and dont’s for makeup that I just find tiring to keep up with. Again, I see this as a particular standard being set for me. It’s extremely discouraging for people who can’t necessarily afford expensive beauty products or who prefer to be different.

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Social media is especially damaging due to the fact that people can like and comment on your appearance. If I put up a photo of myself but only get one or two ‘likes’, then this has a negative effect on the way I see myself. I feel bad about myself for the rest of the day – and that’s wrong.