In the 21st century, exposure to commercials and social media is unavoidable. If a Kardashian, Jenner or Hadid is not flashing a product at you on a billboard, they will surely appear on your Facebook or Instagram feed flaunting their luxurious lifestyle, flooded with comments by their adoring fans. Consumerism and marketing culture is inescapable with the expansion of social media in the last few years.  

The rise of social media has led to youth craving “#BodyGoals” that are frankly unattainable. In an era where self-worth and popularity is determined by the amount of likes on an Instagram post or the number of friends on Facebook, it has become impossible to avoid judgement. This form of virtual acceptance and validation through shallow means is what most teenagers crave nowadays. Scrolling through endless pictures of people with toned bodies, we cannot help but make comparisons to ourselves. 

Social media has almost standardized beauty: it seems like you need “Kylie’s lips”, a thigh gap, or whatever body trend is circulating, to be pretty. Moreover, social media is filled with people showing off their diet results and dramatic body transformations, but what may be inspiring for some can be triggering for those who are struggling with their body confidence, encouraging them to follow the same, often unhealthy, diets and exercise regimes. When phrases such as “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” trend on twitter, they end up glorifying an eating disorder, leading to a false perception of what a healthy lifestyle should be. The real danger and toxicity of social media lies in the fact that teens and young adults believe that these crazy diets are required to be healthy when it could not be further from the truth.  

We need to stop these unrealistic images of beauty forming in the first place. Support and promote models, fashion bloggers, and brand representatives with “plus size” bodies, who show that every body type is beautiful and normal. Moreover, make social media a place for more than just superficial aesthetics: post about your passions, talk about issues you care about, and share the real you, unfiltered.  

The only reason, apart from medical urgencies, a person should be changing their body and diet is for their own desire to be fit and healthy, not because they feel pressured by societal motivations to look a certain way to conform. Fit and healthy may not necessarily mean a flat stomach and an hourglass figure for everyone. We must accept that not all bodies function the same way. What works for some may not work for others. Metabolism and genetics are only a few of the factors to take into account before you compare yourself to the next body transformation you see on Instagram.

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