Op-Ed, Opinion

OP-ED: How Instagram is damaging the self-esteem of women

Op-eds do not reflect the editorial opinion of The Daily Free Press. They are solely the opinion of the author.

Every time I scroll through my Instagram feed, I constantly come across pictures of celebrities and models that all have flawless bodies, skin, hair and makeup. How does this make me feel? Not so good. I catch myself thinking sometimes, “I wish I could look like that” or, “I should really start watching what I eat.”

Today, girls of all ages are trapped in a battle for their self-esteem. At a time in their lives when they are pressured to fit in and feel beautiful, these photos that celebrities post on Instagram shows them that in order to achieve the ideal beauty, they must be stick thin, have flawless hair and acne-free skin. According to a study done by Dove, 72 percent of women feel pressure to be beautiful and only 4 percent of women actually consider themselves beautiful. The Instagram pictures of attractive celebrities are not helping this statistic.

This unrealistic ideal causes girls to become dissatisfied with their self-image, ultimately lowering their self-esteem. What adolescent girls don’t realize is that these pictures on Instagram are unrealistic. The women captured in these pictures have a full-time hair and make-up team, have personal trainers and even use Photoshop to edit their pictures.

In order to feel better about themselves in their own pictures on Instagram, women will use retouching apps to fix their flaws. This can damage the self-esteem of their viewers, because they will perceive this unreal beauty as realistic and normal. These apps can entirely transform the way a person looks in a picture. Girls can slim down parts of their bodies, whiten their teeth, cover up their acne and add filters to either enhance or hide parts of their bodies. What is the point of adding a picture to Instagram that is entirely fake?

Recently, former Instagram celebrity, Essena O’Neill came forward admitting that her Instagram posts portrayed an unrealistic ideal for girls and that it was “not real life.” She would suck in her stomach and pose in certain ways to make her body look skinnier, and caked on her makeup to conceal her acne. O’Neill realized how her photos may have had a negative impact on women and their self-esteem, so she took a stand and deleted all of her pictures on Instagram.

However, not all Instagram celebrities are thinking about how their photos may negatively affect its viewers like O’Neill. Victoria’s Secret supermodel Miranda Kerr has posted pictures on her Instagram that have been edited to make her skinny body even skinnier. When women look at her photos, what they are idealizing is an unhealthy and unrealistic body type.

What these celebrities may not realize is that these photos of their flawless bodies, skin, hair and makeup can damage girls psychologically and physically. Some psychological impacts are depression and anxiety, while physical impacts are body dysmorphic disorder and eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia.

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible for adolescent girls to avoid the influence of celebrities’ pictures on Instagram that portray an unattainable standard of beauty. What is seen in these Instagram photos, and what is internalized as normal, is anything but normal. Until adolescent girls stop comparing themselves to other people and learn to love their own bodies, they will spend their lives striving to achieve an unrealistic ideal beauty.

Christina Revelli, crevelli@bu.edu

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