Posted: July 26th, 2022

Media and Body Image

Media and Body Image

Media platforms remain to be an important tool in the construction and advancement of social realities. Common knowledge within the society is almost exclusively never common knowledge but knowledge that has been created by by other societal institutions and sustained overtime through the simple fact that society has come to adopt these ideas as their own. This is defined as social constructionism. In most cases, common knowledge or ideas that guide a societal interaction never mirrors objective realities. It focuses mainly on human relations and is mostly of the advantage to the people that have the power to propagate the knowledge that come to benefit. The media (news, tv, social media sites etc) play a very important role in shaping and reshaping these knowledge. The media creates platform for all voices to share their opinion on what they perceive to be the problem with certain perspectives and positions within the society. In this case the ideal body image, becomes shaped not by the objective dispositions on the ground, rather by the people with access to the social media platform and more importantly, those whose voices have a wider reach.
Media allows people to shape their realities based on how they perceive these topics on body image, and categorize each with their role or position within the society. While in the recent times, this ability has been very beneficial for all, historically, this dispensation has been problematic. This is because the power to share knowledge and views on the ideal body image was nestled in a limited powerful minority consisting of rich white males. This analysis argues that in the past, the objective realities on the ideal body image were generally undermined by centralized media platforms, but the development of decentralized social media platforms has given voice to many giving many the power to define what an ideal body image relative to their needs and perspective, but also opened doors to allow more incidence of body shaming and objectified view of the body which has created a relatively more dynamic and constantly changing view of the body which is working to shape and reshape people’s perspective of the body.
With a large number of following, social media as a media platform has come to be a very important tool in social construction of people’s identity. Heger (2020) identifies that there is an approximately 3.6 billion social media users across the world. Their constant interaction with others on social media has led to an irrational expectations. Heger (2020) identifies that the overexposure of the general population to social media has worked to compel people to expose people to appreciate an idealized body type and compel people to compare themselves to them and develop unrealistic expectations. This trend has often worked to discourage many people from appreciating their natural bodies and nudged them to utilize special tools to alter their self images to one that the world generally appreciates. This involves the use of filters, photoshops among very many other alteration tools. It has especially come to affect how people view themselves and consequently led to many developing harmful patterns in relations to their body image which in general has been shown to be harmful to their general well being.
Social constructionism of problems and solutions encompasses the view of the society as a whole which often negates the objective realities on the ground, in favor of what society believes to be ideal to them. As such, social roles, assumptions and stereotypes are defined through the shared ideas, interpretation, knowledge, realities and experiences of the majority/ people in power within the society. This works to frustrate the objective reality on the ground and in most cases actively works to stifle a group of people relative to their marginalized views or ideologies. The body image and more importantly what society identifies as the ideal body image, is one of the most commonly abused elements in the modern day society. Goodyear (2020) identifies that society generally appreciates the leaner body image and for young people who have been initiated to the socialization process, many tend to share images that on average are considered appealing on their social media. This creates an irrational perspective of the human body as many teens do not often fit this predefined body goals. Goodyear focuses on teens because they are the most prevalent groups in social media and their exposure to such material leads to self-hate. This starts off small and generally develops into far much worse behaviors.
There is a larger role that people in the society could play in order to stop the increased role of social media. Williams et al. (2014) identifies while social media has assumed an omnipresent role in society, and virtually present in all aspects of life people have a greater part to play especially in this age of overexposure. Heger (2020) shows that a study in Australia centered on identifying how body image is conceptualized within the western society showed that women between 18 and 30 years on continuous exposure to positive body content gained a positive image of themselves and greatly appreciated their body. Williams et al. (2014) identifies with this perspective showing that “We are not passive victims of media forces and we do not need to follow fashions and fads driven by marketing forces. In fact, even children as young as 8 years old are able to critically evaluate media messages, as was found in our qual- itative study of Australian preadolescent children” (390). Identifying that people can choose and categorically preselect the content they are exposed to, in order to appreciate their bodys and come to maintain a positive body image. William et al. (2014) identifies that within our society there is need to develop “embodied subjectivity” of “psychical corporeality” (391). Which essentially implies themes that appreciate every body form for who they are. But little civic knowledge has been advanced in this regard.
Conclusively, social media has grown to play a very large part of how the society conceptualizes their role and defines everybody’s function. Media has become a mediator in creating and defining social problems and with the growth of social media a decentralized platform, old notions and ideals of the body, and the ideal body that were embedded into the society have come to be challenged in their own right as more people are exposed to positive body contents.

References
Goodyear, Victoria. (2020). Narrative Matters: Young people, social media and body image.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 25(1), 48-50.
Heger, E. (2020, Nov. 5). Why social media can make you feel bad about your body-and 3
easy tips to use social media to boost self-esteem. Insider. Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/how-social-media-affects-body-image#:~:text=Fitspo%2C%20thinspo%2C%20and%20body%20image&text=Researchers%20concluded%20that%20more%20time,in%20more%20disordered%20eating%20symptoms.
Williams, Robert J, & Ricciardelli, Lina A. (2014). Social Media and Body Image Concerns:
Further Considerations and Broader Perspectives. Sex Roles, 71(11), 389-392.

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