Perfect skin, shiny hair, model figure – this is a familiar image for many teenagers from the dazzling Instagram world. Young girls in particular take the lifestyle or appearance exemplified there as a model and perceive it as the ideal. In this article, you will learn what this means for their self-perception and how you can support your child in feeling comfortable in their own body.
Many of the photos or videos posted on Instagram do not correspond to reality. Whether it’s a classmate or a beauty blogger, everyone wants to present their followers with the most enviable photos possible. To do this, use the filters provided by Instagram, with which the skin looks smoother, the sun brighter and hair shinier. With special apps, even the nose can be made smaller or the waist narrower.
Influencers in particular present themselves and their lives on social networks as almost flawless and perfect. Their followers perceive this portrayal as authentic and emulate them. This can be expressed by a desire for the latest sneakers or by dissatisfaction with one’s own body. Because the Instagram world has little to do with reality, as “normal” bodies are hardly present and therefore not desirable for young people. Teenagers are subjected to pressure to come close to this skewed reality.
To be part of the community, there is also pressure to post your own photos on Instagram. In the process, even taking pictures or filming is sometimes seen as frustrating because it takes a long time and the finished media products do not always meet expectations. For many young people, the number of likes and comments is then also seen as confirmation of their person. Self-doubt increases when the posted photo or video receives few or no likes.
Various studies have shown that young people who use Instagram are particularly likely to feel uncomfortable in their bodies. Snapchat is also criticized for this. Young people are not only confronted with perfect images of others in social networks, but also through TV formats such as “Germany’s Next Topmodel” or through advertising. However, young people feel a particularly strong personal connection to their role models in social networks.
The distorted body images in social networks are much criticized. There are strong efforts to present bodies in all their forms in the media, e.g. by people showing themselves on Instagram and Co. under hashtags like #formorerealityoninstagram or #teambodylove without makeup and naturally. The images are not edited. In this way, an attempt is made to convey a realistic body image, especially to young people, and to encourage them to accept their own bodies.
In addition, there are demands to mark edited images as such in the future in order to make it clear that they do not correspond to reality.
Stay in conversation with your child about his or her role models. Look at pictures together on Instagram and ask what exactly it is that it likes about the pictures. Make your daughter or son aware of edited images and question how realistic they can be. It also helps to remember that very few people have the look of influencers and models, and that even they have to use photo editing.
Perhaps show channels that specifically try to upload realistic photos. Work together to find channels or hashtags that are less stereotypical and more reflective of the diversity of society. This gives your child different incentives for their own personality development.
Use a photo editing app together for fun and change a photo of yourself or your child using filters. This way, your child also realizes how easy it is to change or even manipulate an image. Completely independent of media, you can support your child daily in accepting and loving their own body and thus strengthen their self-esteem.