Ladies, how many celebrities and insta-famous people do you follow on Instagram? How many of those people are women? Do you often refer to them as #goals?
We’re all guilty of waking up and immediately checking our Instagram feed to see what we missed while we were sleeping. Then, throughout the course of the day, we check up on our favorite accounts and scroll through the same photos we analyzed and liked 30 minutes ago.
However, this frequency of use may have more of a dramatic effect on women than it does men.
Since the creation of the newspaper in the 1600s, media has had tremendous influence on people around the world. Consumers consult the media for information, entertainment and leisure. Eventually, social media surfaced at the turn of the millennium and changed the way we access and interpret media.
Today, we live in the insta-famous generation where it’s possible for someone to be famous solely based on their appearance. This isn’t a new concept, though. Women have been idolizing famous women for decades. Supermodels like Twiggy, Elle McPhearson, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell helped define beauty standards in the seventies, eighties and nineties. Women all over the world looked through the pages of magazines and to television for the definition of beauty. Today, though, our symbols of beauty can be found right in our pockets or in the palms of our hands.
Now, women look to insta-famous people for beauty, fashion and lifestyle inspiration so much that they begin to idolize them.
Various studies have shown that women are more addicted to social media than men.
Macquarie University’s Jasmine Fardouly, University of New South Wales’ Lenny Vartanian and University of the West of England’s Phillippa Deidrichs and Emma Halliwell examined a study of the relationship between the usage of various media such as internet, social media and TV and self-objectification among young women.
They state that “the media’s portrayal of women is often sexually objectifying, and greater exposure to objectifying media is associated with higher levels of self-objectification among young women.”
This means that the increased exposure of sexually objectifying images on social media has caused women to view and display themselves as objects for use.
Women who see other women online and think of themselves as superior have more self-confidence and are satisfied with their appearance. On the other hand, women who see themselves as inferior do not have as much self-confidence and satisfaction. Social media, since it is more intimate and more accessible, can instill unrealistic expectations and create greater feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem in us.
In fact, the American Psychological Association hypothesized a correlation between narcissism and physical appearance online. They discovered a variant of narcissism related to social media called the vulnerable narcissist.
A vulnerable narcissist seeks validation as opposed to commanding attention like a typical narcissist would. This raises the question: are we all vulnerable narcissists?
We post pictures on Instagram with the hope that enough people will like it. If our picture isn’t liked by enough people, we instantly question our appearance. By questioning ourselves, we then look at other Instagram accounts with thousands of followers and likes. This is when our self-esteem begins to plummet and we crave validation the most.
In a study conducted by Barry University’s Breana Mercado and Monet Mitchell of a sampling of Barry female students between the ages of 18 to 25, 100 percent of the women mentioned sexualization among women on Instagram. The sample of women could each agree that it was common to see women on their newsfeed showing off their bodies.
One of the participants (age 23) said she felt that women had to sexualize themselves in order to feel a sense of validation.
“Everyone has to be half naked to get their followers up,” she said.
The interviewees highlighted a pattern throughout the Instagram accounts of women. These were some of their observations.
“They want to have this persona that they’re living the life. They’re living the life that you wanna live so they wanna show that through Instagram.”
“You can never tell if that’s really the person because it’s over social media and everyone puts up certain criteria or whatever for social media.”
“You don’t post your everyday things on Instagram. You just post what you want people to see.”
All in all, in order to impress their followers or feel confident, they must create a distortion of their reality through the images that they post. By doing this, women ultimately lose touch of who they really are, creating a lasting negative effect on all aspects of their life.