Body Image, Teens and the Internet #wellnesswednesday

Screen Shot 2017-03-13 at 18.44.01I took the Trusted Clothes quiz on body image concerning young girls and I couldn’t believe how much I didn’t know. Girls are more concerned about being called ‘fat’ than losing their parents, nuclear war or failing at school. How!? What??! There is also an increasing rate of boys with self esteem issues with the rise of social media. Every time I clicked on an answer, I couldn’t stop shaking my head. I can’t believe this is the world we live in. Then it got me thinking…and researching.

I wrote a very similar post before about Body Image. How the internet is a pivotal connection for those who are in need of guidance, but can be a place detrimental to a young person’s health. We as adults use the internet a little more wisely (or can be argued not as much!), however- for young people this isn’t necessarily a tool of communication. It’s comparison at the touch of a button or scroll.

Only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed by Americans in the media.

In researching, I started off by simply googling the term ‘body image’. There are plenty of useful websites out there, first with Planned Parenthood. The only downfall of these vital searches, the layout and content of these sites are, in all honesty, not user friendly. It’s extremely clinical, and not active for young people. The content is so sooooo useful, but the website’s appearance lets it down. We need to see an improvement of web content for young people in order for them to feel like they have access to the information they need.

According to do something.org, 95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Then why, as social media usage has risen, are we not creating supportive and informative content that is marketed towards that age group? Pew Research Centre said a staggering 71% of teens use more than one social network site, with teenage girls using social media sites — particularly visually-oriented ones — for sharing more than their male counterparts do. Why are we not looking at the research and creating accessible and visually appealing content for young people regarding mental health issues and body image? The top websites in the search bar I have been on in relation to body image and self esteem feels clinical, awkward to use and without a connection to the audience.

The research is super mind blowing regarding adults too, the British Social Attitudes conducted a survey in 2014, three-quarters (77%) of adults think that society puts too much pressure on females to have a sexualised appearance, half of all adults (47%) think that ‘how you look affects what you can achieve in life’, and one-third (32%) agree with the statement ‘your value as a person depends on how you look’.

But things are looking up. 
There are such INCREDIBLE organisations out there doing amazing things for young people. We need to address these existing issues, and with wonderful non-profit organisations (some I’ve had the super sweet pleasure of working with) like Heads Together, Welsh based Heads Above The Waves, The Golddigger Trust from Sheffield and the almighty Young Minds rallying for change- we can see these figures drop significantly. Support the non-profits that are in your local area. Mental health awareness is on the rise, and we need to stand together. Let’s make social media an accessible place for young people to help them grow positively.

The best way out is always through – Robert Frost

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