Distorted body image, the ongoing epidemic
Studies have shown that Gen Z are the most impressionable age group and can be easily affected by beauty standards via social media.
They suffer most with body ideal internalisation – the pressure to live up to a certain body type or appearance – to the point where it can cause uncomfortable emotions such as shame and anxiety.
Over 40 percent of young people cite regular exposure to photos of the ideal body type on social media as a cause of their distorted body image. Girls are disproportionately affected by this, with 54 percent of them admitting to having negative feelings about their body due to images they see online, compared to 26 percent of boys surveyed.
Here at Thred, we’ve already written about Tik Tok’s new measures to remove or ban hashtags which promote negative approaches to diet and lifestyle habits. However, Instagram has thousands of popular skin-smoothing, lip-plumping, and face-slimming filters which are contributing to dissatisfaction with our appearances.
While there’s nothing wrong with caring about your personal image, constant fixation on our own appearance can lead to perceptual distortion - which happens when we focus disproportionately on a single perceived flaw until it becomes magnified.
Have you ever pointed out one of your physical traits to a friend, only for them to respond they don’t know what you’re talking about because they’ve never noticed it? Yep, that’s perceptual distortion.
Gen-Z receives mixed messages on body image
Today, media messages and brand campaigns promoting body positivity and inclusivity are more prominent than ever. The freedom to accept and express yourself however you choose is at an all-time high, but the pressures to look your best while doing just that remain.
Young celebrities of all body types are speaking out about the pressures and criticisms they’ve faced to try to achieve the ideal body type.
Where the stereotypical supermodel body dominated the pop culture world for millennials growing up, Gen-Z audiences tend to focus more on the artistic ability of artists and actresses - and their attitudes towards body positivity are an added bonus.
It’s a tough line to walk: learning to accept yourself fully, while the opportunity to present a filtered version of yourself online becomes increasingly normalised.
Not to mention, as generations get older, the accessibility of cosmetic procedures offers the temptation of a permanent solution to self-perceived faults.
As we emerge from lockdown, it’s important to maintain a sense of self-appreciation for getting through one of the most socially, mentally, and physically challenging times in decades. Whether or not it’s visible, the experience of the last year has changed everyone in some way.
Besides, your mates won’t care what you look like, they’ll just be happy to see you.
This article was originally written by Jessica Byrne. ‘I’m Jessica, a recent graduate from the University of the Arts London. I’m passionate about sustainable fashion and beauty, racial and gender equality and protecting our oceans. When I’m not curating Spotify playlists, you can find me watching every existing documentary on my latest subject of interest or hanging out with friends and practicing 35mm film photography.’ View her LinkedIn and Twitter.