The conversation around body image and self-esteem usually focuses on topics like celebrities, Photoshop and the unrealistic beauty standards perpetuated in popular culture.
These are some of the main reasons we tend to feel bad about our bodies, right?
According to a new survey conducted by Glamour Magazine, social media may be to blame, and the celebrities you probably follow aren’t the ones contributing to your poor body image.
In 1984 Glamour conducted a survey that asked 1,000 women ages 18 to 40 how they felt about their bodies. At the time 41 percent of the survey respondents said they didn’t’ feel good about their bodies.
When they reissued the same survey this year, 54 percent of the participants responded with the same answer.
“These were some difficult results,” Glamour’s editor-in-chief Cindi Leive said on the Today Show. “And we looked at men too and men are not immune here, about 33 percent of them said that they don’t feel great about their bodies. But they don’t seem to be as troubled by it as women are.”
Leive said the survey found that the increase in the percentage of respondents who feel bad about their bodies was mostly a result of increased social media use.
“That is the one factor that we found really made a difference,” said Leive. “The more time a woman spends on social media, the worse she feels about her body.”
Part of the survey included an experiment where women were presented with a photo of three female celebrity bodies; first with the subject’s heads cropped out and a second time with their faces visible. According to Leive, a majority of the women said they felt worse about themselves when looking at the photos where the heads were cropped out.
“When you’re looking at social media you’re thinking, ‘That’s the girl next door. If she can do it, I ought to be able to do it,’” Leive said on the Today Show. “When they see a celebrity, they think, ‘You know what? I don’t have to rise to that standard.’”
Of course, this is all just theory based on one small survey. As Sheila Moeschen, senior editor of I Am That Girl pointed out in an article on The Huffington Post, it kind of seems like Leive is pointing fingers trying to direct attention away from the fact that the mainstream media also significantly affects body image.
“Glamour conveniently elided itself from contributing to the unrealistic standards that women and young girls measure themselves against when it comes to beauty, body and self-image,” she wrote.
She continues, “I admit that it would be nice to pin our body image hang-ups to one dartboard…. But just as our bodies and our relationships with them are complicated, so is the nest of issues that corrode that relationship.”