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Argumentative Essay on Social Media

by Casey Summers

Social media greatly affect opinions and worldviews of contemporary people, instilling some values and perceptions that may cause psychological harm. It is believed that social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram create certain stereotypes about the human body, which ultimately affect users’ body image. Research shows that carefully staged and photoshopped photos damage people’s perceptions of themselves and undermine their body confidence (Mabe, Forney,  Keel, 2012). As a result, people feel dissatisfied with their bodies or even consider plastic surgeries to meet some perceived beauty standards. However, some may argue that social media fitness trends can encourage people to maintain healthier lifestyles. I believe that the influence of social media on users can be both positive and negative, which depends on a person’s personality and susceptibility to social trends.

Multiple studies have been conducted that show the detrimental effect of social media on users’ body confidence. For example, Homan et al. (2012) found that women looking through the photos of thin and fit people on social media tend to perceive their own bodies negatively. This dissatisfaction may lead to serious eating disorders in teens and young women, who stop eating to look just like their ideals (Perloff, 2014). This problem especially concerns young social media users who have a tendency towards perfectionism and anxiety. They see enhanced images of thin people and believe that similar body shape will make them happier and more popular among their friends. Trying to look as great as those photoshopped images is a kind of a search for social acceptance, which has a detrimental effect on the physical and emotional health (Knorr, 2014).

However, social media can positively affect body image and instill the right values in young users. Body positive campaigns challenge the stereotypical perceptions of human body and call for greater acceptance of different shapes and sizes (Fisher, 2015). Plus-size models may increase users’ confidence in themselves and encourage them being more acceptant of their own bodies. Besides, some people argue that there is nothing wrong with the current health and fitness trends because they motivate social media users to maintain more active lifestyles and pay more attention to food and physical activities (Sabo, 2013). Photos of celebrities and regular users in gyms can serve as powerful motivators to stop eating fast-food and buy a gym membership.

I believe that the effect of social media on body confidence depends on users themselves. Some young girls may believe that losing some extra pounds will increase their popularity and attract men’s attention. Some believe that their body is not perfect but are too lazy to change anything. Others look at plus-size models and begin accepting their own bodies, which makes them happier and more confident. There are many people including myself who judge their look critically and realize that fitness is not a way to earn popularity but a lifestyle that promotes health and wellness. I use social media to motivate myself to do exercises and stay healthy, yet I realize that I should love my body the way it is. I do not follow social media trends unless I feel they will benefit my emotional and physical state.

In this way, I argue that social media can have both positive and negative effects on users’ body image. They may make young girls hate their bodies and induce them to maintain unhealthy and even dangerous diets. Even the most skeptical people cannot resist comparing themselves to celebrities or their thin friends, which often leads to dissatisfaction and anxiety. Yet I think that social media are not always negative and that everything depends on users themselves. As for me, I draw inspiration from Instagram and Facebook and use these platforms to motivate myself to stay healthy and fit.

References
Fisher, E. M. (2015). 9 body positive social media campaigns that are changing how we perceive beauty both in and outside the fashion world. Retrieved from https://www.bustle.com/articles/75539-9-body-positive-social-media-campaigns-that-are-changing-how-we-perceive-beauty-both-in-and
Homan, K., McHugh, E., Wells, D., Watson, C.,  King, C. (2012). The effect of viewing ultra-fit images on college women’s body dissatisfaction. Body Image, 9, 50–56. doi:10.1016/j.bodyim.2011.07.006.
Knorr, C. (2014). Is social media giving your teen a negative body image? Common Sense Media. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/is-social-media-giving-your-teen-a-negative-body-image
Mabe, A. G., Forney, K. J.,  Keel, P. K. (2012). Do you “like” my photo? Facebook use maintains eating disorder risk. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 47(5), 516–523. doi:10.1002/eat.22254
Perloff, R. M. (2014). Social media effects on young women’s body image concerns: Theoretical perspectives and an agenda for research. Sex Roles. Retrieved from https://is.muni.cz/el/1423/podzim2014/PSY221P121/um/Perloff2014.SocialMediaEffectsBodyImage.BID.pdf
Sabo, T. (2013, July 25). The power of social media to affect our health and fitness. Retrieved from http://greatist.com/health/social-media-affects-fitness

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