Social Media: The Pressure On Girls to Be Perfect
Social media pressure puts a lot of pressure on girls to be perfect. When you’re a teenage girl, your public image means everything to you.
That’s one reason why social media has become such a force in girls’ lives. It allows them to portray themselves in the best light.
When you’re a teenager, controlling your image is appealing because so many aspects of your life aren’t in your control. You’re discovering who you are. You’re figuring out the give-and-take of relationships.
Social media gives users the image control they crave. But it also opens a Pandora’s Box.
Too many users’ self-worth comes just from likes and follows.
Manipulating Reality Through Social Media
Girls want to be attractive. Social media gives them instant validation of that.
While social media gives girls the image control they crave, it gives them false feelings of self-worth too.
“The ease with which we can edit and manipulate our social media accounts proves that any of these sites allow us to create a false reality, a version of ourselves as we want to be seen, a false self to increase the feeling of self worth, reflected by the number of likes and followers.” TodayPictures.com
Laura Buffardi and W. Keith Campbell from the University of Georgia made the same connection about how social media gives users control over their image.
“Owners have complete power over self-presentation on Web pages, unlike most other social contexts. In particular, one can use personal Web pages to select attractive photographs of oneself or write self-descriptions that are self-promoting.”
But having control over their profile isn’t the only thing that encourages girls’ social media use.
The Dopamine/Social Media Connection
When a girl posts a flattering photo on social media, getting likes and positive comments sends a surge of dopamine through her brain. Dopamine increases feelings of reward and motivation as well as addiction.
“Dopamine starts at “seeking” behavior in each example. Then you get rewarded, which makes you seek more — to do it again. And again. It’s hard to stop. Chances are you have checked your email — or at least thought about it — in the past few minutes. Or Twitter. Or both. That’s not technology knocking. It’s your brain. It’d like some dopamine — now.” – Phil Pruitt, Chance Seales
When you understand the positive connection between social media likes and dopamine, you see the addictive power of social media. Many users freely admit how addicted they are to social media, like Jessa Haines.
“I am addicted to the adrenaline rush I get when my phone tells me someone commented on a photo I posted or link I shared. I am addicted to the connection I feel when members of my social network post about their families, travels and lives. I am addicted to sharing information about myself that generally no one should ever care about.”
But what happens when a girl’s photo doesn’t generate the ‘likes’ she wants? Or what about negative comments on her posts?
Negative feedback sets the stage for a hit to a girl’s self-esteem.
Low Self-Esteem & Social Media Pressure
Let’s be clear.
Social media isn’t the cause of low self-esteem. However, if a social media user already has low self-esteem, it can contribute to her anxiety and depression.
Here’s what body image expert Claire Mysko says:
‘While social media is not the cause of low self-esteem, it can contribute to it. Social media creates an environment where disordered thoughts and behaviours really thrive.’
Surprise: It’s Not Celebrity Photos on Social Media that Make Girls Feel Inadequate
According to Mysko, social media can ‘serve as a catalyst for more insecurity.’
You might think your daughter’s anxiety comes from celebrity profiles. Think again. Teen girls are smart enough to realize celebrities have trainers, personal chefs and stylists.
Friends and classmates are a bigger source of anxiety for many teen girls.
“These days . . . . impossible standards are set much closer to home, not by celebrities and models but by classmates and friends. With social media, teens can curate their lives, and the resulting feeds read like highlight reels, showing only the best and most enviable moments while concealing efforts, struggles, and the merely ordinary aspects of day-to-day life. And there’s evidence that those images are causing distress for many kids.” – Rae Jacobson
She May Not See the Whole Picture
Social media makes us think other people have perfect lives. But that’s not the truth.
A girl feels jealous when she see’s her friend’s stunning photo. But she doesn’t see the fight her friend had with her mom ten minutes earlier.
When she sees her classmate looking flawless in a photo, she doesn’t see the filters that made her that way.
Exotic vacation photos? No one mentioned that Grandma financed the trip.
Social media lies – and that’s what girls need to understand.
“People need to learn to take other people’s social media posts with a grain of salt and recognize that it represents how people want to share their experience. . . all the facts are not there. – Karen North, Ph.D
Encourage Your Daughter to “Think Outside the Crop”
Encourage your daughter to think critically about the images she sees on social media. There are lots of images obviously cropped or edited. Ask her to question why? That are they trying to hide?
This opens up an entire discussion about people not always being what the seem on the surface.
The video below gives some food for thought on how social media is so deceiving.
What’s Your Take?
Have you discussed the pitfalls of social media with your daughter? Comment below!
About the Author
NormaR is our WeBananas tech blogger. She came to us as a crusty copywriter from the Far North who lives and breathes conversions. In her spare time, she's a diehard Edmonton Oilers fan (sadly), a foodie and a passionate landscape photographer.