Does society dictate body image expectations?

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Claire Ash, Howler Staff Writer

Within recent years, body dysmorphia has become an ever-increasing issue that has caused ripples through younger generations. Society has always dictated body image through media and unrealistic expectations. However, with the rise of social media, this has only worsened. 

Not only does social media promote unhealthy beauty standards, but it also encourages the use of photoshop. Social media has become the breeding ground for toxic and unrealistic expectations of what people should look like, using filters and photo editing apps to make yourself look different.  

According to CNN, over the years, several publications have covered the controversial trend of plastic surgeries inspired by photo filters on social media, with headlines calling it “troubling,” “disturbing” and “desperate.” 

People over the years have been obsessed and consumed in trying to fit these unrealistic expectations that society has put out. Using filters resembling botox or editing themselves to look better is one thing, but when it comes to getting surgery to look like a filter is too far; it’s not natural or realistic. 

“It’s like a real-life filter for your face,” Dr. Barbosa said. 

This phenomenon is known as Snapchat Dysmorphia. This condition rustles many issues concerning physical health. Dr. Kamleshun Ramphul dives deeper into the discussion of Snapchat dysmorphia and the expectations social media projects onto the public. 

“I strongly believe that we have to properly investigate the impact that [apps and filters] might be having on different groups who are more vulnerable of their appearances,” Dr. Kamleshun Ramphul said. “Is Snapchat Dysmorphia a real issue?” told CNN Business

Dr. Ramphul looks to further investigate the decades-old question of whether society dictates body image. “Do teenagers know that these filters don’t reflect changes they need and do these filters make them feel ‘ugly’ and ‘ashamed’ of their current appearance? We need more research to answer these questions.” 

Society and social media can be great things but can also cause serious health problems and insecurity. 

Society doesn’t only affect the minds of adults or teens, it also targets kids who deal with body image expectations as well. Lots of kids have struggled with body image expectations and not feeling like they look ¨good enough¨ from a young age which is usually introduced to them through a form of social media, or even the people they are surrounding themselves with. Sadly, this can stick with them, causing issues with self-esteem and health throughout their life. 

¨I think girls have always worried more than they really should, and need to, about weight. But, of course, what has changed in the last 20 years and 30 years is that childhood obesity has more than doubled,” Child Health Manager Weston said. “And let me get this right, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. That’s according to the CDC,¨ ¨We don’t want the kid’s self-esteem to suffer, but we don’t want the child’s health to suffer, either.¨

Many people assume it’s mainly girls that struggle with body image issues but boys struggle a great deal as well. “When he’s in his season for sports, he’s very fit,” she said. (The Washington Post is withholding her name to protect her children’s identities.) “Then that will end, and he’ll gain weight, then he won’t like how he looks and tries to lose weight. I just see this pattern of not being happy with his body, and he sees himself in a warped way,” a mother from New Hampshire said. Later on, in an interview that she had with Amy Joyce, she explains that her son restricts his eating, sometimes to one meal of lean protein and vegetables plus a small smoothie per day, for a week or two, while working out consistently. She says he will also say ¨I hate my body. I hate how I look,¨ she replied ¨he’s just a beautiful kid.¨ 

Anyone at any age can struggle with body image issues. Unfortunately, society is mainly responsible.

Now-in-days society has evolved tremendously; Growing to be more accepting than it once was towards all different body types, gender preferences and ethnicities. Creating an environment for people to express themselves freely on social media platforms. Many celebrities now are openly presenting their sexuality and identity, including showing off their bodies no matter the size, resulting in them getting an exceeding amount of clout. This also allows their viewers to find them more relatable and real.

Society does not have as big of a hold on body image expectations as it once did.