Social Media: A Leading Cause of Body Dysmorphia


Arianne Rising

Arianne Rising scrolling through Instagram before her class starts.

You wake up in your warm layered bed to the sound of your alarm pounding. Before you even click that orange snooze button, you are bombarded with various notifications; eight Snapchat, three Instagram, and two Gmail. 

You respond to the Instagram notification first. As your eyes adjust to the bright light you scroll from the very top post of a perfectly edited photo of Kendall Jenner, to Bella Hadid, to Kim Kardashian. You walk over to your mirror and imagine the different ways you could look like them. Lip fillers? Breast implants? Maybe if my hips were a little wider? It’s barely 7:01 and you are already comparing yourself to the body on your screen. Your screen! Why?

With the constant exposure of social media, adolescents are bound to experience body image issues.

In a survey conducted within the Mayfield community, out of  91 participants, 52.7% of people felt that social media has affected them in a negative way. Students referenced popular apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, and Twitter that have left them feeling a wide range of emotions ranging from jealousy, dissatisfaction, sadness, and uncomfortability.  (Arianne Rising)

“Social media sets impossible standards for body image and it’s really upsetting to see how normalized they are,” said Chloe Leong ‘24, one of three people interviewed that began experiencing body issues at around 13 years old which have continued to worsen throughout their high school years. 

A common source of influence for these body image issues has been their social media feeds; photos of celebrities, hashtags discussing exercise regimes and diet routines, and more. Charlotte Potter ‘22 has tried to delete social media apps, but adds,“I feel like I miss so much.” 

But, she said, “I have rebranded my social media to be more positive and affect me in a better way.”  

Ultimately, there is a lack of industry control over what shows up on social media feeds leaving users to regulate themselves. Abigail Beegle ‘23 took a measured look at her continued usage of social media. 

“A lot of issues and controversies in the world were presented to me at Mayfield and I was allowed to form my own opinions on topics such as body image,” Beegle said. “Also I feel that this issue is very amplified by social media, which pretty much all students have joined by the time high school has started,” she said. 

Experts say the issue of one’s self body image is “heightened” after using social media and can create the habit of comparing yourself to intentionally produced images meant to represent what a girl or woman should look like on a daily basis. In the end, the image is simply unattainable and especially devastating to an adolescent girl trying to become comfortable with her own body. 

From a psychological perspective, Mayfield Senior School counselor Erika Mastrobuono says that while once kids were able to escape the pressures of life including school, friends, and self image, “Social media is 24/7.” 

As an inescapable source of influence, it is no wonder that people can experience negative feelings surrounding their body image after scrolling for five minutes or a couple hours.

“People are on social media to be connected,”Mastrobuono said. “Social media is not black and white — especially at a younger age you should monitor yourself and check in with how you are feeling.”