History of the Ideal Body Image from Instagram

Topics: Instagram

The mass media blatantly influences their audiences through presenting beauty standards that subconsciously affect how their view themselves. The media displaying this thin ideals can immediately be normalized to people who are not exposed to other contexts.

Studies have shown that women want their bodies to have a particular shape and for them to be a particular size to be deemed as beautiful. They also aspire to have what society deems attractive and what they think most people look like. A study done among female undergraduate students in USIU-Africa confirmed they exhibited high levels of body dissatisfaction after they were told by their peers that a thinner body is what was preferred (Arasa, E.

K. ,2017).An example of selective exposure that speaks to this is when young women are exposed to Disney princesses during their formative years that have unrealistic body types, hair and face shapes. They begin to internalize that they should look a particular way or else they are not beautiful.

Social Networking Sites Influence on Body Positivity

As technological advancements continue to emerge it is without a doubt that more and more people are exposed to various forms of mass media. This ranges from print, television, and not so recent social networking sites (SNS). Scholars through extensive research have found that social media has a direct correlation to body dissatisfaction , life satisfaction, body dysmorphia and body disorders (Ferguson, Muñoz, Garza, & Galindo, 2014)

Body image has been deemed a social construct and is swayed by current trends presented in the media mass media has played a massive role in the emergence of negative body image among women which in turn affects their mental health.

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In addition to this it is also responsible for representing the ideals that are present in the society.

The interplay of socialization that is immediate and peripheral is argued to affect one’s negative self-perception. (Hu, Yang2018).

Effect of Social Media on Body Image

Traditional media has taken a backseat as younger audiences opt to rely on SNS’s for their uses and gratifications. The pressure to look physically good is now on the rise as SNS’s becoming increasingly part and parcel of our daily Lives .Unlike traditional media social networking sites have been created to fully have users engaged.

Instagram being one of the most popular sites allows its users to like, share, edit and share photos with their followers that appears on their profile or the timeline of the explore page. Instagram especially an array of filtering choices which users can take advantage before they upload their final photos. This whole process of perfecting the photos has applied pressure has heavily attributed to social comparison (Natalie 2017 p.6).

A relatively vain space women who choose to participate are able to curate their lives in a specific manner enabling them to have agency over their lives . Perfection is attained online . Social presentation is a process that has derivatives from judgement and evaluation from people present on this social agoras. Women therefore judge and merit themselves based on the ideal present on Instagram (Arooj Rashid, 2019).The application has a high market value attracting millennial women from different socio-economic backgrounds, race that helps them forge new friendship’s, keep in close contact with their family and maintain current friendships. (Bailey & Steeves 2015: 7, 11).It has been argued that the pool of interaction is wider on Instagram as compared to Facebook because you will mostly relate with people who are similar to yourself despite the demographic or whether you are friends or not.

Exposure to those accounts that are mostly models, celebrities or strangers on the daily then becomes according to the S.CT their social comparison group .Affirming that social media motivates them to have positive views on their body. In 2018 Instagram recorded that had a rise of 2,195,968 accounts that were pro-body positivity. However, the more these women continue to view this overly edited and curated content they are susceptible to social comparison . The way women engage with Instagram photos has been compared to image viewing on magazines that were also seen to provoke the same feelings of body image comparison and dissatisfaction (Mills, Shannon, & Hogue, 2017).

Psychological literature has confirmed that high levels of social media exposure has also resulted in a strive for weight loss and skinny ideals. An empirical study was done involving conventionally attractive females peers on the consequences of social media use on 188 millennial females. Some engaged with the attractive peers and the latter engaged with a family member. The findings depict that body image among women was affected after engaging with their peers on social media (Ahmed, H. 2019).


Thinspiration began with the media and it is clear that they have a huge role to play in creating unrealistic ideals for women. Both new and old media have continued to perpetuate this ideal that has affected women greatly psychologically.

Our meta-analysis of body dissatisfaction we can fully agree that there is a linkage between body dissatisfaction and the use of Instagram. It is also important to monitor one’s usage of social media. Every day we are bombarded with over 600 images that can create a subconscious mental picture. Instagram has introduced a feature that can monitor how much time you spend on the app. This is to hopefully make users aware of their screen time. Further research needs to be done for our context as we usher in the new age of influencers and the use of social networking sites to influence millennial women. Sharon Mundia, Patricia Kihoro and Miss Mandii are just but a few millennial influencers who gave openly talked about their journey with their body image.

Sharon Mundia on her YouTube channel speaks on her relationship with food to online bullies attacking her on her body weight. In a recent YouTube video she posted on April 13th, 2020 she said that she had to dismantle beauty ideals she had internalized. This was in reference to a hate comment she got. She added that she does not aspire to whatever beauty ideals that people expect of her especially being a media personality.

Empirical research will greatly enrich such a research in Africa and in Kenya.

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History of the Ideal Body Image from Instagram. (2022, Mar 08). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/history-of-the-ideal-body-image-from-instagram/

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