The images of perfect bodies and gleaming smiles that fill social media are being blamed for causing profound insecurities among many young people.
Adolescents has always been a time for feeling awkward and unattractive, a problem made even worse when social media posts suggest everyone else has the perfect figure.
Zachary Cullen is a student finishing his freshman year in high school, “I feel like there’s a lot of things you you feel like you need to do and need to be, I feel those things too. ” Cullen says. “In high school, it really changed because there’s a lot more people and a lot more peer pressure to look the best way you can.”
And social media isn’t helping those who struggle with body image.
On the other side of town, counsellor Ryan Sturgeon works with teens who are struggling with body issues, “One in four teenage boys have tried dieting to change the shape of their body.” Sturgeon says. “[And] one in two teen girls, according to Canadian Pediatrics Society.”
Though men are typically not the target of beauty campaigns, they are also victims to media’s portrayal of what men should be.
Todd M. Wysocki, a professor of Psychology has conducted research in his article, Male Body Image: The Best Kept Secret , “215 college men completed a body image questionnaire developed specifically for this study.” Wysocki says. “More than half indicated some level of body dissatisfaction and 86% identified a desire to change parts of their body.”
But are body positive campaigns really aiming to help those who are struggling with body image, or are they a simply a target for advertising agencies?
Dove, a beauty company that has a well known background in promoting heart felt body acceptance campaigns – received negative backlash when they decided the create shampoo with different “body shapes” to represent the diversity of shapes.
“Our six exclusive bottle designs represent this diversity: just like women, we wanted to show that our iconic bottle can come in all shapes and sizes, too.” Dove said on its website.
Though on the consumer side of things, Nicolle Neulist is not impressed with the product. “I don’t want fat representation in soap bottle form.” Neulist says, “I’d prefer it in a form of fat people not being systematically treated poorly.”
It seems that she is not alone, many people have taken to twitter to voice their opinion.
Beauty companies that campaign for body positive isn’t fighting the real problem that alot who struggle with their body image: eating disorders.
The University of Pittsburgh has researched the correlation between eating disorders and social media. “[The] subjects who spent the most time engaged with social media each day had 2.2 times the risk of developing eating disorders.” The report continues, “ [Additionally,] those who most frequently checked their social media feeds weekly carried 2.6 times the risk.”
Back in the city, Cullen is taking a more healthy approach – he has been boxing for almost a year now. “It’s not really how my body looks now,” Cullen says. “It’s how boxing makes me feel. I am more confident in myself.”