Body Image, Self-Esteem and Youtube

Youtube’s Beginnings:

Youtube has become an established member of the new media and social media families over the past decade. An individual can go on YouTube and search for any number of videos on what seems to be an infinite amount of topics. YouTube is a place for people to express their ideas, opinions, or state facts often times are about subjects that are important to them.  There is no doubt that the website plays a major role in the way individuals interact, discuss, and even look for information in today’s age of new media. Burgess and Green express that YouTube is “user-led” and this is a “fundamental part of the way YouTube works” (pg. 29). The website rely’s heavily on participatory culture and users interacting with one another.

Body Image and The media

For many years researchers and the public in general, have linked young women’s poor body image and lowered self-esteem to unrealistic ideals set by media, however, most of this research is focused on mass media, not new media or social media. I found an article written by Richard Perloff discussing the ways in which young adults (particularly women) who regularly use and view social media sites to have poor self body image and therefore, lower self-esteem. The article explains a lot of this has to do with the accessibility to compare and contrast yourself to not only other people but the ability to compare yourself to your “past-self”. Apparently this is a popular thing done by young women and teens; they compare their present looks to past images of themselves and find things about themselves that have changed (both good and bad). While mass media still plays a large role in self-esteem and body image often times today young people know that it’s often photo-shopped and re-touched to make the models or actresses look their very best. Social media brings a whole new ball game into the idea of self-esteem and body image; this is because often times people are comparing themselves to their peers or as mentioned above, themselves. This make the differences they seem much more real and “closer to home” you could say.

New media Theories and body Image

The biggest theoretical approach I could think of to relate to this topic would be audience. The audience is both effected by what they see and also causing others to see themselves in a different way based on what they’re posting. Jenkins discusses systems of appraisal in his book Spreadable Media. My interpretation of this led me to believe this is can be very closely related to the topic of body image and self-esteem. People today often put pictures, posts, or tweets online because they’re looking for someone to say something positive, “retweet”, favorite, or like whatever it is they’re putting up. When this doesn’t happen or the comments aren’t positive young people shut down and this causes poor self body image, lower self-esteem, and often times the individuals thinks of things they need to change about themselves to be seen as “pretty”, “popular”, or whatever it is they’re going for.  Rheingold also talks about how people in today’s society are building up the value of social medias aspects by participating in it and doing it everyday, he states that “People participate in building the value of the every day by reading, tagging, liking, favoriting, plussing, commenting, linking, posting, refactoring (editing wiki pages), arguing in comment threads and discussion forums.” I’m assuming that if people didn’t do this as part of their everyday life and didn’t take what others said about them so seriously, social media would have little to no effect on what people thought of themselves or how they perceive themselves. For more on the article where I found Rheingold’s quote you can click here. Rheingold also discusses the aspects of anonymity on some social media websites and how that can contribute even more to how people act and react to comments and such on new media, if you’re interested in that I found the information as well as other interesting things on a previous class blog of his you can check that out here. For both of these articles you may have to scroll down a bit to find the exact spot where I took my information from!

My argument

I believe that in a society that so heavily relies and thrives on social media and new media platforms it’s essential to do more research and studies on how these apps and and media sites are affecting our youth and young adults today. It’s also important to develop ways in which to minimize the effects it may have on young people because although not much research has been done, from personal experience and use I feel as though comments and messages you receive from websites such as FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram are much more personal then seeing a beautiful woman in a commercial and wishing you looked like her. Youtube can play a major role in informing people about the effects social media has on individualm however, it also can serve as a platform for people to comment negatively, “dislike”, among other things on other’s videos (it’s kind of a double edged sword). It’s important that people know how to use these websites and apps as they are basically second nature to many of us in today’s society and definitely aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

To continue my argument is a curation of youtube videos that discuss body image and self esteem:

1. The Impact of Social Media on Self-Esteem:

This video discusses how the feedback teens and young adults are receiving on social media today have a major impact on how they view and think of themselves. Does this sound familiar?

2. Social Media and Body Image:

These two ladies discuss what often goes through young women’s minds when they’re scrolling through their timelines, newsfeeds etc. They also mention how women often feel less confident about themselves after using social media, why do we feel this way?

3.  Facebook and Body Image:

This video discusses some of the effects Facebook has on it’s users, I liked this one especially because so many people are on Facebook, it has such a wide range of users.  I also love how they mentioned that users today have a “hyper self-awareness.” I wonder if all people feel this way when they’re on Facebook or is it just today’s generation?

4. Self Esteem Issues: Dealing with Body Image:

I really liked this video because it shows a social media site, YouTube, being used for a positive reason in relation to this topic. It’s all too easy to feel subpar to everyone else on your Instagram and Facebook nowadays, it’s important to remember you are who you are for a reason and you don’t need to change for anyone but yourself if you wanted. Social Media is a major factor in putting pressure on young people to be like everyone else they see. If this was case, how boring would our society be?!


In conclusion:

These videos are just a few of many that discuss or represent the problems with the topic that is body image and new media in today’s society. 

I’m left wondering what lies ahead in further research for this topic. Will people take more interest into what exactly the effects are to young people who are in constant use of social media on their own self-esteem and confidence. I feel as though it should be further looked into because of the fact that young people today heavily rely on what other’s seem to think of them and I believe that in part this is a side-effect of social media over-use.  I also would love to know how the use of social media causes change in young adults and teens, does actually cause them to change themselves, and if so, in what ways?

There’s so much to still research and uncover in the topic of study and I hope that in years to come more time, research and perhaps solutions will be done much like it was done with body image and mass media.


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