Society shoves body ideals down our throats

Av Nathalie Grigorenko

Mental health has become a popular topic in public discourse of lately, and there are many views on why mental health, especially with the younger population, is as bad as it is. I will attempt to analyse and contrast these views in a mini series of blog posts here on Yvonne’s blog. The first will focus on social media’s influence on mental health.

Social media’s influence on mental health

There is no hiding that there is a massive difference between growing up now and growing up ten or twenty years ago. One prominent difference between the times is the existence of social media. Day in and day out we encounter pictures of the perfect lives of others as well as the perfect body, and one can only assume that when one is bombarded with images of the ideal body that anything that differs from this image will be looked down upon. This thinking could be severely detrimental to mental health in many ways. Not only could it lead to low self-confidence, but it can also lead to unhealthy fixations and anxiety.

£1 every time

If I had £1 every time I heard a friend saying something bad about their own body I would probably be able to pay off my student loans today. The young generations are constantly comparing themselves to the ideal body image, and if it doesn’t match their own body type then they have to make it known that they are aware it isn’t. This is because you do not want people thinking that you think you look great. If you don’t complain about your body you will be seen as full of yourself and most probably arrogant.

Society shoves body ideals down our throats

It is such a shame that this generation refuses to be happy with their own bodies and what it can do, but I completely understand why. In all fairness, we have very little choice as society shoves body ideals down our throats. The presence of social media and perfect bodies everywhere can only lead to self-doubt. If we want to progress we might want to rethink content on social media. Should we all post pictures of ourselves going to the gym or should we show genuine moments of happiness? Instead of promoting the ideal life we ought to promote real lives. If we stop focusing on how we should be and induce anxiety we can produce a happier population with better mental health.

My generation is not the first victim, we are just victims of a more brutal attack

Of course this is easier said than done, and if I am being honest I do not see behaviour on social media changing. But we do have to remember that despite the young generation being the first generation encountering social media whilst growing up, we are not the first generation to grow up with extensive marketing and other media influence. My generation is not the first victim, we are just victims of a more brutal attack, and perhaps this is why we are talking about media’s influence on mental health. Furthermore, if we see the harm constant media influence has on people, it might be time to focus on changing marketing strategies, and talking more about mental health in the open. Yes, the young generations are the ones creating change, but we cannot make this change without help from the rest of society. If we all change our individual behaviour we might change the communal behaviour.

Stay tuned for more posts on mental health and the younger generation.