Being a woman, myself and many others know how it feels to look at a model on Instagram and feel insecure about the way we look compared to them. This game of comparison and who looks better is not the true issue, but rather why we feel the need to compare ourselves. It’s become an obsession with some, but what’s the real cause?
There are many different body types and one is always favorable over others in this society we live in. Women are expected to have a bigger chest, a tiny waist, big hips and a bigger back side. Expectations are never realistic with the way we are supposed to look, and most women do not fit the bill of that ideal body type, and that’s okay. Why do women feel they need to look a certain way to be liked or desirable? It all comes down to social media, societal norms and most importantly Instagram.
On Instagram women are expected to look their best, to always look camera ready for that perfect beach selfie, or for that photo that captures every detail of their body. Some women fight back against these norms, but expectations are still high. According to a study from Today by Rheana Murray, 88% of women compare themselves to images in the media, and half of that number consider their comparison unpleasant and unfavorable. That’s a staggering number of women who feel like they can’t compete with the models and bodies they see on their phone screens, but why do we let these apps control the way we feel about our self-worth?
It could be because we, as people, spend a lot of time scrolling through social media. Studies from the University of South Wales show that people who spend more than an hour a day on social media have lower self-esteem. After seeing posts that make women feel crappy about their own bodies, they are more motivated to have unhealthy relationships with eating, exercising and self-worth. It’s easy to start scrolling and keep scrolling. Social media can easily turn into an addiction for people, and it has. It makes sense why women are so down about their bodies. If they spend all their time browsing and feeling awful about themselves, they won’t be able to get out of the cycle of self-doubt because it’s always staring them in the face. Spending less time on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook can help reduce the stress and self-doubt that women have about their image, even if it may not be a cure to these feelings. Sometimes unfollowing people who make them feel worse about themselves or blocking people who cause them stress and harm is a good route to take. Spending so much time obsessing over how other women’s bodies compare to yours is one of the worst ways that women can dig a hole for their mental health.
It’s also quite easy to compare yourself to someone else on social media. It’s easy to look at someone and think “I’m not as pretty as she is” or “She is so skinny. I wish I looked like that.” It becomes challenging because of the societal norms that women have thrust upon them. Society says that women must look a certain way and if they don’t they’re ugly or have no worth, or need to change the way they look and reflect the models and girls they see on their screens. A study from Girlguiding shows that 50% of young girls feel that they are valued more for their appearance and feel pressured by gender stereotypes. It starts young and that’s why as women get older, they feel that they must always look perfect because that’s just the way it has to be for girls. It's how some of us are raised to think that if we are not skinny or not always made up with flawless hair and effortless looking makeup, then we are not worthy. We live in a society that has always valued looks over anything else and it needs to stop, or this cycle that women go through with their self-image will never end.
Above all, we need to think about the fact that not every woman in the world has the ability to look like the models they see on the internet, or even that they want to. Not all of us want to look the way models on Instagram do and we should never feel forced to.
We need to stop comparing ourselves to the women we see on our screen because not only does it make us women feel bad, but it must also make the women on the screen feel pressured to look perfect. It’s what people expect from them, and so many celebrities have talked about how they feel this pressure too. Along with the detox from social media, as a society we need to rethink the way we believe women should look. We should all understand that women don’t need to look a certain way.