At 13 years old, my dad handed me a small white box with a shiny, first model, iPhone inside.
My young self, already fascinated by taking pictures, wanted to become interested in the photography world of Instagram – or so I thought. What I didn’t realize is how unhealthy the social media outlet would be for my body image.
I noticed friends posting pictures of themselves at the beach wearing cute, two-piece bathing suits – something I already struggled to do.
Comments on my friend’s accounts like “skinny,” “your body is goals,” and “I wish I looked like you,” filled my head.
I began following celebrities who posted similar revealing pictures whose fan base constantly complimented their slender physiques.
There were hashtags like “Skinny Minnie,” “fitness goals,” and even “anorexic” that I noticed young women using when commenting on each other’s accounts.
I felt like everywhere I looked on Instagram, I saw models and famous people showing off their seemingly effortless bodies. My competitive friends always talking about how they wished they looked like Kendall and Kylie Jenner.
At the time, I experienced feelings of distance from my peers because I did not paint my face with foundation and post selfies. Nor did I post bikini pictures like my friends did, as I was insecure of my body. My role models were the unrealistically tiny celebrities of Instagram who raved about juice cleansing.
As a young teenager, I quickly realized Instagram was not about posting cool photography, but instead it was a virtual environment for a middle-school girl to succumb to a lowered sense of self-esteem.
Turns out, I was not alone.
The website, The Inquisitive Mind, talked about a study which correlates social media and poor body image. The study consisted of 100 seventh-grade girls and discovered that adolescent girls who posted more photos, and used more appearance editing apps, felt worse about their image. They were also more likely to develop eating disorders as a result of trying to mimic their Instagram “role models.”
Furthermore, Amherst Wire discussed a study done by Mercy Multiplied, a charitable organization. They concluded 90% of women who have eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Seventy-two percent of that population utilized Instagram daily.
Being a 13-year-old when social media was just starting out was difficult enough for me and many others. Now, with more features to edit your appearance, I can’t imagine how today’s generation of young girls is feeling.