The idea of the ideal body constantly surrounds today’s teenagers, forcing them to fall into the narrative that if one does not look like the supermodels or influencers seen online, there is something wrong with them. The pressure is suffocating and has pushed the youth to feel insecure, hopeless and inadequate. In different ways, the problem affects both genders.
For teenage girls, the problem often is fueled by the unrealistic pictures of Instagram models and celebrities who are portrayed as perfect. Young girls are continuously given the impression that the right way to look is the way Victoria Secret models and Tik Tok influencers do. This can become very toxic in that it turns into a mindset. The “perfect” body is most commonly seen on social media.
“I feel like body issues are a thing because on social media, the girls with the “nicer” bodies look the happiest, but deep down I know it’s not real. I almost feel like I’m forced to have the “ideal” body type because of it too. I know a lot of people beat themselves up because they want to look like that as well,” said Madelyn Valenzuela.
The pressure is felt by both genders when it comes to body issues. Teenagers alike spend an enormous amount of time scrolling through social platforms looking for ways to improve their health or find shortcuts toward the “perfect” body according to society.
“Social media is definitely a catalyst for certain insecurities because people can see it daily and it is so visible on social media. I feel like it can easily make people feel singled out,” said Kaleb Kunkle.
The reality is that for men, the struggle with insecurity and body issues is often overlooked, one of the reasons being the term, “toxic masculinity.” An article written by Jon Johnson for “Medical News Today” states that, “According to traditional toxic masculine values, a male who does not display enough of these traits may fall short of being a ‘real man.’” Because many men are forced into that narrative, they are made fun of by their own male peers if they do not adhere to traditional male expectations like strength, sexual attraction, and aggression. In fact, one of the more toxic aspects of toxic masculinity is the forcing of men to withhold their emotions. Amongst themselves, teenage boys chastise other teenage boys for showing emotion because it displays “weakness.”
“I believe at the end of the day it’s how you, as a person, react to it. You can use it as motivation to try and get yourself to the level you want, or it can almost become a weight on your shoulders as you compare yourself to something you might think is impossible to reach,” said Kevin Fernandez, 12.
Thankfully, movements promoting body positivity are also spreading like wildfire. Social media is not completely negative, thanks to the many people who have realized that all bodies are beautiful and there are different types of body types. Teenagers today need to realize that society’s portrayal of a “perfect” body does not include the actual physical and mental health needed to truly feel happy. Often, influencers post the happy and not the bad. It is important to remember we are all human and deserve to be proud.
Andrea Cardozo // Social Media Manager