Body image and its predicament in today’s society of social media, filters and photoshop

Lamneivah Kipgen 
We live in a superficial world where appearance plays such a big role in one’s life. Especially on  social media and other social networking sites where we see so many people from different places daily, we can’t help but compare ourselves to them. How good they look, what lifestyle they have or how rich they are. All these eventually lead to questioning our self esteem.
One of the most negative effects we get are toxic beauty standards where we, especially women, are constantly being judged on how we look, how slim we are or how fair they are.
These judgments result in body issue problems where one feels like one is not good enough or they are not supposed to look like who they are.
Body issues or body image is the way someone perceives their body and assumes that others perceive them. This issue or image is often affected by family, friends, social pressure and the media. Body image is also closely linked to self esteem. Low self esteem in adolescents can lead to eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia, early sexual activity, substance abuse and even suicidal thoughts.
It is reported that approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Unfortunately, only 5% of women naturally possess the body type often portrayed in the media. 58% of college girls feel pressure to be a certain weight. More than 1/3 of people who admit to “normal dieting” are likely to merge into pathological dieting and roughly 1/4 of those will suffer from a partial or full-on eating disorder.
 In another survey, it was also seen that more than 40% of women and about 20% of men agreed they would consider cosmetic surgery in the future. 95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. It was also found that only 10% of people with eating disorders seek professional help. What about the remaining 90%?
These reports and statistics show how much of an issue body image is. It also shows us how ignorant we are and how often we turn a blind eye to this issue. There are many reasons why we don’t realize the problems of body issues.
 One of the biggest reasons is how we are expected to have a perfect looking body based on the morphed, edited and filtered images we see on screen. Ignorantly commenting on someone’s image or fat shaming or even skinny shaming someone without realising how heavy our words are or how it might affect the person is also another way of making someone lose their self esteem and consequently leading to body issues where the person feels like they are not enough or they don’t look perfect enough.
All these are also a very common thing in our society. It is a very common practice where everyone is on everyone’s business. We sometimes nonchalantly comment about someone’s appearance or change in their physical appearance, be it our close family, friend, neighbour or even a stranger that we don’t know. We ignorantly talk about all these without realizing someone might be going through a bad time or that it might be a sensitive topic to them and in turn, gaslight the problems subsequently  making it worse for them. This does not mean we should support chronic obesity or people with malnourishment don’t get me wrong. It is merely about how we  should learn to support in a positive manner rather than making someone feel bad about themselves negatively.
 Instead of bringing each other down by judging the way we look, we must support and encourage each other to be the best version of ourselves and be healthy. Especially, during this pandemic that we are facing where everyone is feeling on the edge and also hardly coping by mentally, we should try to bring positivity instead of pulling each other down. One of the steps we can take to fight the pandemic is to boost our immunity and in order to boost our immunity, we need to have a proper diet and must not fast or skip meals unnecessarily. So we should be extra careful in communicating with others so that we might not be the reason why somebody skips meals in order to feel better about how he or she looks just because of the “mindless” comment you made about his or her body shape or size. Because at the end of the day, we are all humans getting by and equally fighting a global pandemic irrespective of how thin or fat we are.

The writer is a student of BA Political Science (feedback or contact can be made through @[email protected])