The Negative Effect Social Media Has on the Definition of Beauty


Photo provided by Creative Commons.

Sailor Rodgers, Guest Writer

By Sailor Rodgers

Fun fact: there are about 2.46 billion social media users in the world. It’s hard to go anywhere without seeing people with their noses in their phones scrolling through Facebook, checking for Instagram likes, or looking for great deals on shopping apps.

We are surrounded by it. Surrounded by people who go on extravagant vacations.  Surrounded by people with “picture perfect” relationships. Surrounded by people with tiny waists,  long legs, and no body fat. It’s all over social media.

Whether we realize it or not, anything we are exposed to for hours on end affects us. Especially the media. Social media has the power to influence society in very harmful ways. It has created a definition of beauty that is far from realistic.

 Excessive exposure to unrealistic lives causes us to compare ourselves to something that is so staged and edited that it is not real. Let’s take clothing ads for an example. While they are intended for promoting the clothing they are selling, you will rarely see a model that looks like you. Have you ever noticed that? According to, “the average female fashion model wears a size 2 to 4, while the average American woman wears a size 12 to 14,” (4). On top of that, after the photos are taken they are edited so that the models are perfect. This is so unhealthy for a society that is constantly comparing themselves to other people.

60% of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way

— Clarissa Silva

A study done by Clarissa Silva, a behavioral scientist, shows that  “60% of people using social media reported that it has impacted their self-esteem in a negative way,  50% reported social media having negative effects on their relationships, and 80% reported that it is easier to be deceived by others through their sharing on social media,” (2). More often than not, what we view on social media negatively affects our self-esteem. It can lead to self-consciousness about our appearances, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia.  

This topic is very personal for me because it is something that I struggle with all the time. I have an Instagram that I open multiple times a day and I spend way too much time trying to perfect my feed. But the truth is, as soon as I go to some Youtuber or blogger’s feed I suddenly feel like I’m not good enough. I’m not skinny enough. I don’t have hundreds of trendy outfits. I’m not in shape. I don’t go on a lot of stunning vacations. These thoughts are literally always swarming through my head. Even though I know it’s not true. It just feels like there is no way to escape.

I understand that advertisements are made the way they are to appeal to the audience that they are trying to reach. However, the effects that they have on so many people’s mental health is astonishing. I also completely stand behind the idea of bettering yourself and striving to be the person you want to be. However, this should not come at the expense of your mental or physical health.

So next time you think about scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, be aware that perfect posts are staged, perfect bodies are edited, and perfect lives don’t exist. Or, simply limit your exposure to media images.  Because the truth is, the idea that your beauty is measured by what size jeans you wear or how many likes you get is a straight up lie. Do yourself a favor and don’t believe the lies defining your beauty.