The Impact of Social Media on Adolescent Boys’ Body Image
تأثير وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي على صورة الجسد لدى الفتيان المراهقين
ماريتّا زرقه Marita Zarka*
تاريخ الإرسال :21-11- 2023 تاريخ القبول 3-12-2023
Body image concerns have received much interest in the past few years, emphasizing how social media influences the perception of one’s body. Even though so much research studies the relationship between social media and body image issues in girls and women, there was little awareness given to teenage boys and men. In other words, the role of thin- and muscular-ideal internalization in social media by boys and men stays under-explored.
This study investigates the increasing concerns around body image in teenage boys and how internalizing appearance ideals connects exposure to social media images to body image issues. As such, this research explores how social media like Instagram and TikTok relate to body image issues and whether thin- and muscular-ideal internalization would moderate this relationship in a qualitative sample of teenage boys.
This study will also examine how social media and social comparison affect teenage boys’ body image. It will draw attention to the changing societal and cultural standards for male bodies and how the achievement of a muscular and well-fit body shape is represented on social media. As a result, this will lead to teenage boys being obsessed with extreme exercise and, in many cases, using steroids.
Eventually, addressing body image issues in teenage boys and encouraging a healthy body image and overall social and psychological well-being for boys and men is essential to tackle more in future research through studying and analyzing the parental relationships, i.e., dynamics between parents and their kids.
Key Words: Adolescence -Identity -Social Media -Ideal Male Body -Muscle Dysmorphia -Body Dissatisfaction -Eating Disorders -Self-Esteem
قد نالت قضايا صورة الجسد اهتمامًا كبيرًا في السنوات القليلة الماضية، مسلِّطة الضوء على كيفيّة تأثير وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي على تصوُّر الفرد عن جسده. على الرّغم من أن العديد من الأبحاث تركز على العلاقة بين وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي وقضايا صورة الجسد لدى الفتيات والنساء، إلّا أنّ هناك قليل من التوعية المُخصّصة للفتيان المراهقين بما يخص هذا الموضوع. بمعنى آخر، فإنّ الحديث عن موضوع الجسد المثالي للذكور على وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي ونتيجتها على صحتهم النفسية والاجتماعيّة ما زال يعيش في ظلال الاستكشاف.
هذه الدراسة تهدف إلى الاستقصاء والاهتمام الزائد بشأن صورة الجسد لدى الشبان المراهقين، وكيف يتصل تأسيس مفهوم المثال الجسدي ومشاكل صورة الجسد بتعرضهم لصور وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي. وبناءً على هذا، تبحث هذه الدراسة من خلال عينة نوعية من الفتيان المراهقين في كيفيّة ربط وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي مثل انستغرام وتيك توك بقضايا صورة الجسد وما إذا كان تأسيس المثال النحيل والعضلي سيؤثر في هذه العلاقة.
هذه الدراسة ستستكشف أيضًا كيفية تأثير وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي والمقارنة الاجتماعية على صورة الجسد لدى الفتيان المراهقين. ستسلط الضوء على التغيُّرات في المعايير الاجتماعية والثقافية لأجساد الذكور وكيفية تحقيق شكل الجسد المثالي والرشيق المتواجدة على وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي. ونتيجة لذلك، ستؤدي هذه العوامل في نهاية الأمر إلى تشديد الهواجس بشأن ممارسة التّمارين الرياضيّة بشكل مفرط واستخدام الستيرويدات في العديد من الحالات.
في نهاية المطاف، فإن معالجة قضايا صورة الجسم لدى الفتيان المراهقين وتشجيع صورة جسدية صحية ورفاهية اجتماعية ونفسية عامة للفتيان والرجال أمر ضروري للتعامل معه وخاصة في الأبحاث المستقبلية من خلال دراسة وتحليل العلاقات الأبوية، أي الديناميات بين الأهل وأولادهم.
الكلمات المفاتيح: المراهقة- الهوية- وسائل التواصل الاجتماعي- الجسم المثالي للذكور- اضطراب تشويه العضلات – عدم الرضا عن الجسم- اضطرابات الأكل- تقدير الذات
*An Early Childhood Counselor at the American Community School Beirut.
Currently, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Psychology at the Lebanese University, Doctoral School of Literature, Humanities, and Social Sciences. Her research focuses on body image and eating disorders in young adult women in Beirut, under the supervision of Professor Rajaa Makki.
She is undergoing psychoanalytical psychotherapy training at “Clinical Pathology of Reality and Mind” Clinics (CPRM). – Email Address: email@example.com
مُستشارة ومُرشدة تربويّة و نَفسية في مرحلة الطّفولة المُبكرة في مدرسة الجالية الأميركية في بيروت. .*
حاليًا، تتابعُ دراستَها لِنَيل درجة الدّكتوراه في علم النّفس الاجتماعي في الجامعة اللّبنانية، المعهد العالي للدّكتوراه في الآداب والعلوم الإنسانية والاجتماعية. بحثُها يركّز على صورة الجسم واضطرابات الأكل لدى النّساء الشّابات في بيروت، تحت إشراف الأستاذة رجاء مكي.
.(CPRM) تخضعُ لتدريبٍ في العلاج النّفسي التّحليلي في عيادة “علم الأمراض السريرية للواقع والعقل”
Body image is how someone perceives, thinks, and feels about one’s body. Body image issues and the role of social media like Instagram and TikTok, in particular, have obtained much press. Furthermore, there is an extensive awareness of how it can contribute to eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Nevertheless, body image and the stress placed on teenage boys and men concerning how they look, think, and feel about their bodies have escalated significantly over the past ten years. Teenage boys and men worry about how muscular and ripped they are and whether they are too skinny. However, most research and resources shed light on young girls and women and that being anxious about weight and body shape is usually seen as a ‘female’ problem; for this reason, males are much less likely to request help. There is a significant gap when tackling female body images versus males. Not only in social media but also in the real world, males are taught differently than girls how to think about their inner struggles and insecurities. People seem to notice the females’ struggles regarding body image issues, but it is all too familiar for them to ignore the struggles that males face. Society and culture talk about social media’s negative impacts on female body images but not on males. They are usually discouraged from sharing their struggles and sometimes even overlooked when trying to share.
Over the past years, there has been an intense rise in widespread concern about the male ideal body represented in the media. For instance, the ideal thin and muscular body has become more noticeable in popular culture, including pictures, images, and messages on social media. Dworkin and Wachs (2009) argued that “each body is part of an endless process of marketplace” (p.10) in consumer culture. Psychologists (e.g., Cafri et al., 2005; Pope et al., 2000; Thompson & Cafri, 2007) and sociologists (e.g., Monaghan, 2005a, 2005b) have become interested in men’s body image and body dissatisfaction as the male body has become more evident in popular culture. Men appear more vulnerable to a more extensive variety of weight concerns than women since the physical ideal that most men desire is more complex than the thinness norm many women adopt (Corson & Andersen, 2002). Most men and teenage boys desire to become bulkier and more muscular (Grogan, 2006; Grogan & Richards, 2002; McCreary et al., 2005), while teenage girls and women desire to be thinner (Grogan, 2006; Tiggemann & McGill, 2004). Hence, data obtained in some research from women and teenage girls cannot be generalized to men and teenage boys.
When it comes to thinking about what is measured as the ‘ideal’ body type in modern society, the discussion is classically fixated on female body image. ‘Body shaming’ in social media has been a massive topic for several years. The detrimental physical and mental health influences on the women exposed to it are finally starting to be recognized and challenged. Nevertheless, this issue is not limited to women. Although it is clear that society still places far more pressure on women than men when it comes to conforming to the ‘ideal’ body types dictated by society, this does not mean there is no pressure on men. Hair loss and issues controlling weight and not living up to the body ideals set by negatively affect how men perceive themselves, possibly leading to mental and physical health problems. In Western society, a solid focus on idealized physical appearances spread through social media, producing intense pressure to conform to an impossible body ideal for most men. Exposure to this media content on Instagram or TikTok increases the possibility that men will undertake excessive exercise and abuse steroids, which may have adverse health consequences (Cafri et al., 2006; Horwitz et al., 2019; Mossman & Pacey, 2019; Tiggemann & Anderberg, 2020). This drive for muscularity can lead to the development of anorexia nervosa (AN) (Klimek et al., 2018) or the beginning of muscle dysmorphia (sometimes referred to as reverse AN) (Pope et al., 2000).
Body dissatisfaction, the negatively charged self-evaluation of one’s appearance, is faced across the lifespan, but adolescence is a phase of particular vulnerability. Social media influences body dissatisfaction in adolescence, which is a reason behind the increase in body dissatisfaction among teenage boys. Mass media content changes how men perceive and evaluate their bodies. In recent research (Agliata & Tantleff-Dunn, 2004; Berg et al., 2007; Blond, 2008; Botta, 2000), the spread of unrealistic images in social media has been observed as a significant contributing component to poor body image among teenage boys. Nonetheless, social media does not affect body dissatisfaction to the same degree in all teenage boys. One such influence is the internalization of physical appearance ideals that promote muscularity in males. Recent evidence suggests that media, especially social media, can be compelling as it may lead adolescents to internalize societal and cultural standards about physical attractiveness and beauty, which results in dissatisfaction with their appearance when they are incapable of mirroring these standards. Some researchers have conducted studies to explore the link between social media use and body dissatisfaction. Results showed that the more often teenage boys were exposed to social media, the more they were dissatisfied with their bodies. Despite the visible impact of media on females’ body dissatisfaction, little research has studied the effects of media exposure on males’ body dissatisfaction, although they are going through a sensitive period that puts them at greater risk for body dissatisfaction (Agliata & TantleffDunn, 2004; Wykes & Gunter, 2005). It is also worth noting that men are increasingly exposed to media images of masculine beauty ideals not just in social media platforms of Instagram or TikTok but also in gyms, advertisements, on television, and in the movies (Agliata & Tantleff-Dunn, 2004; Wykes & Gunter, 2005). Thus, this article’s objective is to fill this gap by investigating how social media use is related to adolescent boys’ body image issues.
Definition of Terms
The period of human development that starts with puberty (approximately 10 to 12 years of age) and ends with physiological and neurobiological maturity, shown in neuroscientific research to extend to at least age 20, with significant brain development in the late adolescent stage of 18 to 20 years. During adolescence, significant changes occur at varying rates in physical characteristics, sexual characteristics, and sexual interest, significantly affecting body image, self-concept, and self-esteem. Adolescents also increase their peer focus and involvement in peer-related activities, emphasize social acceptance, and seek more independence and autonomy from parents (APA Dictionary of Psychology, Updated on 04/19/2018).
An individual’s sense of self is defined by (a) a set of physical, psychological, and interpersonal characteristics that is not wholly shared with any other person and (b) a range of affiliations (e.g., ethnicity) and social roles. Identity involves a sense of continuity or the feeling that one is the same person today that one was yesterday or last year (despite physical or other changes). Such a sense is derived from one’s body sensations, body image, and the feeling that one’s memories, goals, values, expectations, and beliefs belong to the self. Also called personal identity (APA Dictionary of Psychology, Updated on 04/19/2018).
Social Dominance Hierarchies
A dominance hierarchy is the overall collection, or network, of dominance relationships among the pairs of individuals in a group- systems where their social power and influence rank individuals or groups within a society or a social group (Sloman, K.A., in Encyclopedia of Fish Physiology, 2011).
Popularity is peer-perceived and reflects prestige, visibility, and reputation (Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2011).
Social media are electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos). Examples include Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat, Etc. (Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia Britannica,2023).
Media literacy applies critical thinking skills to the messages, signs, and symbols transmitted through mass media, including television, the Internet, and social media (Cynthia Vinney, PhD,2023).
Digital manipulation is the editing of media to make it appear different. This is widespread online and is discussed as ‘Photoshopping,’ named after Adobe Photoshop, the popular image editing tool (National Online Safety, n.d.).
Ideal Male Body
The ideal male body is defined by a well-developed upper body to create a V-shaped torso and low body fat so the underlying musculature is visible (Leit et al., 2002; Ridgeway & Tylka, 2005; McCreary et al., 2007; Murray et al., 2017; Mohamed et al., 2021). This idealized body shape has been spread by male models in magazines (Frederick et al., 2005; Lanzieri & Cook, 2013), in film (Pope et al., 2000), in computer game characters (Martins et al., 2011), and inaction figures (Baghurst et al., 2006). This ideal is reinforced by the fitspiration images of highly muscled, low-fat bodies on social media (Carrotte et al., 2017; Tiggemann & Zaccardo, 2018).
Masculine Beauty Ideal
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines beauty as “the qualities in a person or thing that give pleasure to the senses or mind.” The definition of human beauty may vary according to times, places, or cultures. For instance, in Western society, the male beauty standard is focused on hyper-masculinity––golden skin, ruggedness, and a muscular physique are considered more desirable. The masculine beauty ideal traits include but are not limited to male body shape, height, skin tones, body weight, muscle mass, and genital size. Men frequently feel social pressure to conform to these standards in order to feel desirable and thus elect to alter their bodies through processes such as extreme dieting, genital enlargement, radical fitness regimens, skin whitening, tanning, and other bodily surgical modifications. The masculine beauty ideal is a set of cultural beauty standards for men that change based on the historical era and the geographic region (Merriam-Webster’s Encyclopedia Britannica,2023).
A form of body dysmorphia that is characterized by chronic dissatisfaction. In other words, the person perceives his muscularity as inadequate and undesirable. This condition often leads to excessive exercise, steroid abuse, and eating disorders. It is typically found in males, especially bodybuilders. Also called bigorexia, reverse anorexia (APA Dictionary of Psychology, Updated on 04/19/2018).
Popular culture is the set of practices, beliefs, and objects that embody a social system’s most broadly shared meanings. It includes media objects, entertainment and leisure, fashion and trends, and linguistic conventions, among other things (Oxford Bibliographies,2017).
The mental picture one forms of one’s body, including its physical characteristics (body percept) and attitudes toward these characteristics (body concept). Also called body identity (APA Dictionary of Psychology, Updated on 04/19/2018).
Body dissatisfaction (i.e., a negative attitude towards one’s physical appearance) is assumed to originate from a perceived discrepancy between the actual physical appearance (i.e., actual body image) and the desired ideal state of the body (i.e., ideal body image) (Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2018).
Any disorder characterized primarily by a pathological disturbance of attitudes and behaviors related to food, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder (APA Dictionary of Psychology, Updated on 04/19/2018).
Anorexia, formally known as anorexia nervosa, is an eating disorder. People with anorexia limit the number of calories and the types of food they eat. Eventually, they lose weight or cannot maintain an appropriate body weight based on their height, age, stature, and physical health. They may exercise compulsively and purge the food they eat through intentional vomiting or misuse of laxatives. Individuals with anorexia also have a distorted self-image of their body and have an intense fear of gaining weight (Cleveland Clinic,2021).
Bulimia nervosa can be defined as a pattern of eating characterized by consuming a tremendous amount of food in a short time (binge eating) or getting rid of the food (purging). Purging may involve making oneself throw up (vomiting) or taking laxatives. Laxatives are medications that speed up the movement of food through the body (Cleveland Clinic,2022).
An emotion characterized by apprehension and somatic symptoms of tension in which an individual anticipates impending danger, catastrophe, or misfortune. The body often mobilizes to meet the perceived threat: Muscles are tense, breathing faster than usual, and the heart beats more rapidly (APA Dictionary of Psychology, Updated on 04/19/2018).
A negative affective state, ranging from unhappiness and discontent to extreme sadness, pessimism, and despondency, interferes with daily life. Various physical, cognitive, and social changes also tend to co-occur, including altered eating or sleeping habits, lack of energy or motivation, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, and withdrawal from social activities. It is symptomatic of several mental health disorders (APA Dictionary of Psychology, Updated on 04/19/2018).
Any conscious or nonconscious adjustment or adaptation that decreases tension and anxiety in a stressful experience or situation (APA Dictionary of Psychology, Updated on 04/19/2018).
The degree to which the qualities and characteristics contained in one’s self-concept are perceived to be positive. It reflects a person’s physical self-image, view of his or her accomplishments and capabilities, and values and perceived success in living up to them, as well as how others view and respond to that person—the more positive the cumulative perception of these qualities and characteristics, the higher one’s self-esteem. A reasonably high degree of self-esteem is considered an essential ingredient of mental health, whereas low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness are common depressive symptoms (APA Dictionary of Psychology, Updated on 11/15/2018).
The nonconscious mental process by which other individuals or groups’ characteristics, beliefs, feelings, or attitudes are assimilated into the self and adopted as one’s own (APA Dictionary of Psychology, Updated on 04/19/2018).
Societies are characterized and differentiated by their sociocultural factors. These characterizing conditions act as social and cultural forces that influence individual groups’ feelings, attitudes, values, thoughts, beliefs, interactions, and behaviors. Sociocultural factors play a vital role in shaping social development and functioning. They are synonymous with the traditions, patterns, and beliefs unique to a community or any other population group. Depending on sociocultural factors, people behave and respond to different circumstances, contexts, brands, and policies. These drivers influence how people view and perceive the world and other people around them (Edith Forsyth, 2022).
The adolescent years are usually a difficult time for teenage boys, and they are a period in which they are primarily vulnerable to media effects. (Groesz et al., 2002; Yoon et al., 2003). They are experiencing new emotions, struggling to fit in with their peers, and figuring out who they are. Many are struggling with body image issues and are very much body conscious. It is also a complex period with developmental issues (Levine & Smolak, 2002; Pellegrini, 2008). Adolescence is a critical development phase, with many biological, social, mental, and emotional changes and identity formation. Adolescence is also a time when young people start to use social media, online platforms allowing social interaction through the construction of individualized online profiles and posting pictures and videos on apps such as Instagram and TikTok. Social media has been discovered to have positive and negative influences on adolescents. Positive facets of social media use have increased peer connection, support, and chances to learn. Nevertheless, research has reported chiefly adverse influences from adolescents’ social media use, leading to depression, anxiety, self-harm behaviors, decreased socio-emotional well-being, low self-esteem, and body image distortion. Fast changes in body size in puberty can contribute to reforming social dominance hierarchies. For example, muscular teenage boys become more influential and dominant than their smaller peers (Levine & Smolak, 2002; Tantleff-Dunn and Gokee (2002). The issue of adolescent boys and body image is now on the rise. Within the last fifteen years, unrealistic images of bare-chested men with ripped abs and muscles have become the norm in social media. For instance, adolescent boys influenced by peer popularity try to gain muscle size to expand their social profile. However, this needs to be more observed as they do not address their body image concerns and tend to struggle alone by switching to laugh off criticism or making jokes to cover up hurtful remarks about their bodies. On top of that, they are overwhelmed with pictures of “perfect” bodies from social media, especially Instagram and TikTok, and unsurprisingly, so many teenage boys struggle with their body image. For example, a height of 5’8′ is considered short for a guy because of social media beauty standards, as most social media posts or adverts show guys that are 6+ feet, and teenage boys are exposed to similar posts daily. During the teenage years, the brain is still developing, so when boys see these “perfect,” “ideal,” and unrealistic bodies on social media, it can profoundly influence their brain development and perception of their body image (Agliata & Tantleff-Dunn, 2004).
A few researchers have recently examined adolescent boys’ perceptions of their body image (McCabe et al., 2010; Thompson & Cafri, 2007). Adolescent boys put a high value on being muscular, fear being fat, and identify that looking good develops power and charisma in social interactions (Bordo, 2000; Cohane & Pope, 2001; Grogan & Richards, 2002). Teenage boys are taught that it is inappropriate for males to be obsessed with appearance; however, the continuous reiteration of the ideal male body in social media may persistently impact adolescents. (Cash, 2004; Cash & Smolak, 2006; Grogan & Richards, 2002; Tiggemann, 2004). Nevertheless, Pope et al. (2000) stated that teenage boys perceive themselves as not muscular enough. Teenage boys with muscle dysmorphia feel embarrassed of looking too small when they are, in fact, very muscular by cultural norms. It is not about a healthy lifestyle anymore; they need to be very muscular, which harms their emotional and physical development. Furthermore, current studies have revealed that social media images have distorted teenage boys’ perceptions of their bodies due to repeated exposure to ideal body images (Grogan, 2008; McCabe & Ricciardelli, 2004b, 2004c; Pope et al., 2000). They seem to be affected by body image representation in the media as they are not mature enough to receive them with critical awareness, especially since adolescence is a critical period for body dissatisfaction. Many adolescents are highly invested in their physical appearance and are sensitive to the development of body image issues. Adolescents start to reveal declines in body esteem, such as their physical appearance and weight satisfaction, at 13 years of age, and this carries on throughout mid-adolescence. Social media platforms, specifically Instagram and TikTok, permit opportunities for users to share and view content that can be digitally photoshopped to produce beauty ideals. Given that these platforms include behaviors such as commenting and liking, teenage boys can become obsessed with how they present themselves. They are seduced to post pictures that follow the appearance ideals in hopes of receiving approval from others. Consequently, their continuous exposure to unrealistic masculine beauty ideas and standards while engaging with peers and celebrities may increase their body dissatisfaction, and they may begin an exercise or fitness plan to’ bulk up’ in trying to reach this alleged ‘ideal.’ However, taken too far, this can lead to a fixation with diet and supplements and even steroid use. When taken to extremes, the outcome may be a full-blown eating disorder.
Social media plays a massive part in societal problems, especially mental health. The proof of social media’s influence on teenage boys’ self-esteem and body image is quite powerful. Social media reflects teenagers’ interests and shapes their perceptions, which means they are strongly affected by what they see on social media. The perception of masculinity and the standards of male attractiveness have dramatically changed over the past decades. Teenage boys are repeatedly bombarded with images of exceptionally muscular athletes, actors, and influencers, not all of whom made their bodies through “natural” or healthy ways. It is no secret that Hollywood stars have been gradually curving towards a more muscular body in the last few years, and male influencers – especially in fitness production – have the same mindset. For teenage boys to go over some fitness transformations –go “above and beyond” ordinary exercise and healthy eating to the point that they may often use additional help such as supplements or steroids. For easily influenced teens, these unrealistic transformations and training goals can be dangerous – significantly when they recognize they are not making anywhere near the same amount of progress. Some teenage boys interested in physical fitness and sports are just following their hobbies, as any other teen might. However, with an insecure teen, overexposure to the “ideal male body” can seriously distort their sense of what is expected and healthy. The relentless onslaught of social media images and messages pressures males. These images of molded, thin, and muscular males indicate that men who do not fit this type should change or adjust to be more fit. Most boys and men want to feel their power, strength, independence, and masculinity. They are bombarded with social media daily and have adequate recommendations and guidance on achieving this ideal male image. Most adolescent boys worried about their physical appearance pursue increased muscle mass and perceived masculinity. A recent study by JAMA Pediatrics1 investigated a large sample of boys between 12 and 18. This study showed that nearly 18 percent of the boys were highly concerned about their weight, appearance, and masculinity. Among this 18 percent, many boys went to supplements, growth hormone products, or steroids for their desired physical appearance. Some of these boys also had developed harmful habits of disordered eating, such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.
Teenage boys are exposed to sociocultural effects that increase their desire for a muscular and slim body, resulting in body dissatisfaction, which is associated with depression and eating pathologies. One of the sociocultural effects in the development of body dissatisfaction is ideal body type representation on social media platforms. Adolescents think physical appearance is the most precise and easily seen representation or self-identity for others, so it develops into an essential aspect of social relationships. Quick physical development makes teenagers worry or be concerned about specific physical characteristics that develop. Teenagers face a typical emphasis on muscularity and slimness. Instagram is known for image-focused content and has consequently been proposed to significantly impact body image more than other platforms. Like treating the female body, social media and photo-sharing platforms like Instagram have created an interactive setting for boys to be more bombarded by masculine beauty ideal features.
Moreover, they are also being photo-shopped to digitally improve these often-unachievable “masculine” characteristics to be even more bombarded with what society deems the “masculine beauty ideal.” “Just as girls try to look like idols, boys look up to those models that are considered to be physically desirable,” says Ana Jovanovic, a licensed psychotherapist with Parenting Pod. “They are both affected by what they perceive to be societal norms” (Brown,2019). What differentiates boys and girls is the ideal they struggle to achieve. Boys want to bulk up and have more muscles, while girls strive to be thinner. This type of body image ideal determines the behaviors they will engage in to achieve that ideal: dieting and starving in girls, bulking, and abusing protein, supplements, and steroids in boys.
Teenagers can attain the ideal body image by interacting socially with their environment. The social environment has a vital role in teenage beliefs concerning the ideal appearance they want. This is because the social environment will deliver all information about ideal body image and physical appearance from social media, peers, and family. Social media is closely linked to social comparison, and social interaction can be done online over social media as a social environment. With the growth of social networking sites, teenagers use social platforms as an ongoing path for comparison, specifically concerning body image. While body image issues are frequently related to females, males struggle to catch up to societal and cultural ideals of a man’s appearance. Nowadays, social media has expanded with the advantages and accessibility it provides, such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and many others. Lately, TikTok has become one of the most popular social media that teenagers love. TikTok users have reached 689 million; the average is aged 14 to 24. TikTok is a video-based social media that permits users to be creative by making videos and uploading sounds and images. On Instagram, it is called selebgram; on TikTok, it is called selebtiktok. This phenomenon is linked to body image because selebtiktok will display content by presenting their ideal body image and become a source of information associated with body image for teenagers.
Due to rapid physical changes, teenagers will assess their body image by making social comparisons. Social comparison is a system where people interact with others to evaluate physical traits and improve them. This is done because people need information about physical traits; they develop through the figures they see as references. Social media is one of the places that can offer information about body image because there are ideal figures that teenagers want.
Social comparison is a social psychological process that happens in nearly everyone to carry out cognitive assessments in the form of comparisons of the traits we have with the ones of others, both physical traits (height, weight, shape, and facial features) and personal traits (personality, intelligence, style, and popularity). Social comparison theory came up in 1954 by psychologist Leon Festinger and indicated that people have an innate drive to evaluate themselves, frequently in comparison to others. Social comparison theory believes that people value their worth by assessing how they compare to others in the social world regarding their appearance, actions, achievements, and beliefs. Social comparison is an important, if not central, quality of human social life. Because of the adaptive value of sufficiently sizing up one’s competitors, the need to compare oneself with others is phylogenetically ancient, biologically very influential, and recognizable in many species (Gilbert et al., 1995).
Nonetheless, it was not until Festinger’s (1954) classic paper that the term social comparison was projected. According to Festinger, people primarily desire to assess their opinions and abilities and strive for stable, exact appraisals of themselves. Even though individuals prefer to assess themselves using objective and nonsocial standards, they will evaluate and judge themselves by comparison with others when such objective information is inaccessible. Since Festinger introduced it, social comparison theory has evolved considerably and has undergone various transitions and reformulations (e.g., Suls & Wheeler, 2000).
Research in social comparison theory has revealed that diverse comparison appraisals might be used depending on the comparison context. Social comparison theory includes three appraisals: self-evaluation, self-improvement, and self-enhancement. Self-evaluation comparisons collect information about one’s standing concerning others regarding physical features, skills, and social expectations (ex., How do my muscles compare to my friends?). Self-improvement comparisons are active to acquire how to improve a specific characteristic or for problem-solving (e.g., How could I learn from him to be more attractive). In times of threat or doubt, self-enhancement comparisons protect self-esteem and self-worth and let the individual maintain positive views about the self. Self-enhancement mechanisms known in the research literature include discounting information as irrelevant to the self and identifying the other as inferior or less advantaged on a trait one feels superior on (ex., He might be muscular, but he has no sense of humor).
Past research recommended that specific social media environments such as Instagram may lead to feelings of insufficiency due to upward social comparison processes. From a social comparison theory standpoint, individuals have a drive to assess themselves by comparison with others when valid measures for self-evaluation are missing. People can do so by engaging in upward and downward comparisons. Upward comparison happens when people compare themselves with someone better off. The phrase “better off” may refer to different traits, including physical appearance. The increase of selected and digitally manipulated photos, videos, and stories on Instagram gives users numerous occasions to engage in upward comparison with others. Research demonstrated that social comparison was directly linked with a more significant comparison with “ideals” and detrimental feelings about one’s body image. In an experimental study, Brown and Tiggemann found that exposure to Instagram images that portray attractive and thin celebrities and peers was connected with higher body dissatisfaction levels facilitated by upward social comparison.
Similarly, Kleemans et al. found that digitally manipulated Instagram pictures negatively influence male adolescents’ body image, moderated by upward social comparison. The number of followers, the number of “likes,” and comments on posted photos or videos offer extra quantitative and qualitative data about the appreciation by others. They may thus contribute to the evaluation of the self-compared to others. A study showed that the higher the number of “likes,” the higher the person’s perceived attractiveness, resulting in more significant appearance comparison and body dissatisfaction. Eventually, Tiggemann and Anderberg found that upward comparison with idealized images contributes to higher body dissatisfaction.
Adolescence is an essential chapter in a person’s life, marked by many physical, emotional, and social transformations. During this transformative stage, teenage boys habitually plunge into a world of self-perception and comparison. This study explores the relationship between social media use and body image issues in teenage boys. As we navigate this, we can also discuss how body image comparisons among teenage boys have harmful effects and lasting consequences on their body image and overall mental well-being as they journey into adulthood. Hence, the main research question of this study is straightforward: What is the impact of social media on adolescent boys’ body image?
Methodology: Sample, Procedure, and Limitations
The research sample includes twelve teenage boys in high school who are aged between 15 and 17 years old from different backgrounds (different schools, social and economic status, religion, family values and beliefs, Etc.). This age range is essential as it highlights the teenagers’ physical, psychological, and social changes. The small sample size thoroughly examines the teenage boys’ perspectives, especially in qualitative research. These teenagers were selected based on age and gender to delve into their minds concerning social media and their body image issues. Their voices and insights impact the objectives of this research by understanding the challenges they face with their body image in this sensitive phase of development.
This research uses a qualitative method containing semi-structured one-on-one interviews with teenage boys. The snowball sampling technique was applied to choose the participants. The interviews were done via WhatsApp video calls to assist the participants’ preferences and to have a much easier process. I communicated with parents of teenage boys who were interested in letting their boys be part of this study, and in turn, they asked their sons if they would like to participate. These first participants were encouraged to refer to other potential participants within their social environment. This method helped the recruitment of a varied group of teenagers. During the interviews, participants’ answers were gathered through written notes. Each interview had a typical duration of around 30 minutes. All data and participants’ identities were kept confidential to preserve their privacy and guarantee the moral conduct of the research. The collected data will go through content analysis, a qualitative research method, to help interpret and analyze key themes and insights from the participants’ answers. This method permits a structured investigation and analysis of the data to answer the research question by discovering patterns, emerging themes, and in-depth understandings of the participants’ experiences. Here are the questions asked during each one-on-one interview with teenage boys aged 15-17 to thoroughly understand the participants’ insights and experiences.
- Introductory Questions:
- How often do you use social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok?
- Can you describe your typical interactions and activities on social media?
- 2. Body Image Perception:
- How do you feel about your body and appearance?
- Have you ever felt pressure to look a certain way because of what you see on social media? Can you give an example?
- Do you follow or admire any social media accounts or influencers related to fitness, fashion, or body image? Why or why not?
- 3. Social Media Influence:
- In your opinion, how does social media impact how you perceive your body?
- Do you think social media sets unrealistic beauty standards? Why or why not?
- Have you ever tried to change your appearance (e.g., through filters, editing, or specific clothing) to fit in with social media trends or ideals?
- 4. Peer and Social Comparison:
- Do you and your friends discuss body image or appearance on social media?
- Have you ever felt pressure to conform to a particular body image standard because of your friends or social media peers?
- How do you think comparing yourself to others on social media affects your self-esteem?
- 5. Mental Health and Well-being:
- Have you ever experienced stress, anxiety, or negative emotions related to your body image and social media use?
- What strategies do you use to cope with these feelings?
- Do you think social media positively or negatively impacts your overall mental health? Why?
- Have you ever been bullied by others because of your body? Have you seen anyone who bullies others because of their size and shape?
- 6. Parental and Adult Influence:
- Do your parents or caregivers discuss social media and body image with you? If so, what do they say?
- How do you think adults can help teenagers navigate the impact of social media on body image?
- 7. Recommendations and Solutions:
- What changes, if any, would you like to see on social media platforms to make them more supportive of positive body image?
- What advice would you give to other teenage boys on maintaining a healthy self-image in the age of social media?
One significant limitation of this research was the challenge of recruiting teenage boys participants, as the nature of the research topic may trigger intense emotional and psychological reactions. Furthermore, attaining parental consent was also critical, as some parents expressed worries regarding the potential intense emotional and psychological effects or privacy concerns related to their sons’ participation.
Results and Content Analysis
In the methodology part, it has been mentioned that one-on-one interviews with teenage boys aged 15-17 will take place via Zoom video calls or regular calls. This age group was selected as they are usually of high school age, making it easier for them to articulate their thoughts and feelings, specifically regarding body image concerns. During the discussions with the teenage boys, they provided many examples from their experiences or surroundings. This helped portray a clearer picture of the challenges they are facing. Most teenage boys’ participants use Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. They vary in the time they spend on these social media platforms, with some spending 2-3 hours per day, others 5-6 hours, and some having their entire weekends dedicated to social media. Remarkably, most of their activities on social media include more viewing and scrolling through stories, reels, fitness videos, and images. These often feature fitness influencers or football players sharing tips and recommendations on body improvement, such as achieving V-cut abs, workout routines, and guidance on improving physical appearance, including tackling concerns like acne and beauty products. On the other hand, some teenage boys mainly use social media for watching funny videos and do not focus much on Instagram or TikTok. In the upcoming discussion questions, we will discover how these teenagers, less worried about fitness and body appearance, operate less on TikTok or Instagram. They use the internet for educational purposes and feel more comfortable with themselves, facing fewer body image issues. This positive result is an outcome of the support they have obtained from their parents and their efforts in the past.
During the one-on-one interviews, some teenage boys stated that they run into similar videos when searching or watching certain content repeatedly. For instance, as they connected with fitness-related content, more such videos showed in their suggestions. The original pressure they felt steadily converted into a source of inspiration, encouraging them to desire to be like the people featured on the social media platforms. These teenagers have reached a state where they are neither fully satisfied nor completely insecure about their bodies. They find themselves somewhere in the middle. They continue to follow more people in the fitness industry and pursue tips and recommendations. Their engagement with such content motivates them to make progress and move forward in their journey toward the ideal body image and masculine physical fitness. One teenage boy participant summed up this feeling by saying, “If they can do it, I can do it too.”
It showed that most teenage boys face downward and upward social comparisons. They socially upwardly compare themselves to people who appear better than them physically, which can lead to a vicious cycle of negative self-perception and body image concerns. However, they also engage in downward social comparison when they realize they are physically better than others. This complex interplay of social comparison on social media impacts how they perceive themselves and their bodies. Nevertheless, some still find it difficult to accept this fact entirely. One teenager said that they used to try modifying their physical appearance with filters and Photoshop in the past. However, they now feel they no longer need to do so because they are more pleased with their body shape and size. For example, a teenage boy stated that he used to continually compare himself and try to change his body shape and size to attain more abs and muscles. Nonetheless, as his physical shape improved, his need for change lessened.
Some teenagers mentioned that they do experience negative emotions like stress and anxiety because of their physical appearance, but every teenager responds to pressure in their way. For example, one teenage boy mentioned that when he encounters pressure to meet a specific masculine physical appearance standard, he tries to handle this feeling by trying to forget and cope with it, and one of his coping mechanisms includes doing home-based sports. Another teenager said he faces negative emotions for a few days but ultimately finds the motivation to change. However, he mentioned that this cycle of negative emotions repeats all over again, so he devises a plan and watches more YouTube videos on topics like intermittent fasting and tips on meal planning for diet. Nevertheless, another teenager said that when he experiences negative emotions when he sees people with more significant muscle mass, he does nothing about it, as he does not like to talk much; he said, “I just put a smile on my face.” Others mentioned that “I try to push myself even harder” so that they attain the ideal masculine figure. One teenager, however, deals with it differently, stating, “I keep my emotions bottled up, avoid talking about them, and just forget them since expressing them is difficult. I know this is not a healthy approach, but I often use humor to cope, even though I always worry about not meeting masculine beauty standards.”
As the conversation with the teenage boys’ participants continued, they were asked if they had experienced or witnessed bullying related to their physical appearance, and most of them answered ‘yes.’ The forms of bullying mentioned comprised terms like ‘skeleton,’ ‘you are too skinny,’ ‘you are too fat,’ and ‘chubby.’ Remarkably, one participant mentioned using humor to stand up for himself in response to such bullying. Furthermore, when participants were asked if they talked about body image issues with their parents, most of them answered ‘no.’ They keep these concerns to themselves, thinking their parents would not understand. One participant said he finds relief in talking to himself, even though it provides momentary relief. He tries to solve his problems individually. Only two participants openly talk with their parents about body image issues. One of them shared that he talks to both his mom and dad. His dad, a professional boxing trainer, gives him some tips and recommendations on workout exercises and diet plans, and he says, ‘My dad says that my legs are fat; you should do this and do not do that.’ However, his mom has a different approach, warning him about the deceptive nature of the videos he watches and advising against implementing unhealthy habits. She encourages him not to feel obliged to follow such unrealistic standards. The second participant also directly talked about body image issues with his mom. She pushes him to focus on something other than becoming very muscular and stresses the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. If she notices any weight gain in him, she encourages him to lose it, and he says, “I keep training harder.” So, it has been noticed that most teenage boys often discuss body image and fitness-related topics with their friends. These dialogues rotate around who is stronger, has larger muscles, or can lift the most weight. They observe and talk about people with inspiring shapes and sizes in the gym. Sometimes, the pressure to meet specific body image requirements can lead to self-blame, with one participant saying, “Sometimes I feel lazy and blame myself because I am not exercising. Before, when I was overweight, I hated my body, and now I want to be thin.” Another participant said, “I hate my legs; they are too big; I can see skinny legs on social media, which makes me stressed out, and my arms are too small.” However, the same participant also said, “Going to the gym makes me feel good about myself, and I am dedicated and motivated to it as it is a stress relief and anger release.” This uncovers the dilemma of their relationships with their bodies and the effects that shape their self-perception.
Finalizing our discussion, the boys voiced a wish for a more positive online environment when asked for their thoughts on changes they would like to see in social media to foster a healthy body image. They emphasized the need for people to withhold from demotivating others through body shaming and hurtful words. Besides, they stressed the importance of controlling the over-exaggeration and unrealistic masculine beauty standards and ideal physical appearance, endorsing more realistic, natural, and truthful content. The teenage boy participants called for increased awareness concerning what is real and what is not and more realistic masculine beauty standards. They also highlighted the importance of promoting media literacy to help people differentiate between natural and unnatural. Also, they called for removing inaccurate information from social media platforms to foster a more supportive and reliable digital space. Some teenage boys also brought up the issue of clarity in the use of steroids and the methods by which men achieve these ideal masculine beauty standards. One participant stated, “When I was younger, I often wondered why some people had larger muscles, and I did not have them.”
In the continuance of our end of the meeting, the teenage boys were asked to advise their fellow teenagers facing body image issues, and they shared their following thoughts:
“Do not listen to whatever is being said. Go to the gym, work out, and adopt a natural journey to achieve what you desire.”
“Take a minute to look around and value your positive traits, not just those you may consider negative. We usually concentrate on the negatives and forget the positives.”
“Never be ashamed of your physical appearance; you can always make improvements and changes.”
“If you are feeling insecure, seek help from someone like a trainer or coach to help you on your journey.”
“Pay attention to who you are following; do not follow people who critically judge you. If you feel teased or bullied, try to change it and defend yourself with humor and jokes.”
The good part is that when the teenage boys’ participants were asked how social media makes them feel and perceive their physical appearance, many acknowledged that genetics plays a considerable role. They now realize that everyone’s body is different, and they no longer consider that not meeting masculine beauty ideals and expectations makes them ugly or unworthy. In the past, they believed they had to train excessively and be hard on themselves to transform. However, they now realize that social media repeatedly displays unrealistic goals for achieving the masculine ideal body. It does not uncover the hard work, time, and commitment needed to achieve those goals. Teenage male participants have come to understand that genetic privilege plays a substantial role in one’s body shape and that achieving these goals takes time and effort. As one participant put it, “Social media can sometimes be fake. The lighting changes the picture, so sometimes I use filters to change something in myself.” Another teenager pointed out that social media can be fake, idealistic, and unrealistic. He said how some individuals use steroids to acquire maximum results, like bulging veins, or undergo surgery to become very slim promptly. He said that these unrealistic representations make it seem like people can achieve their dream body in just 30 days at the gym, which is not factual. This shows how social media often represents a distorted view of reality.
As mentioned earlier, comparison is integral to their social interactions. For some teenagers, this comparison is steadily diminishing as they come to recognize that reaching their desired shape is a process that demands patience. As one participant mentioned, “My friend and I were fat, and we agreed together to get on the journey of reaching the ideal masculine body.” These conversations often develop beyond muscle-building and expand to topics like beauty products, hair, and acne.
On another note, I would like now to talk about four teenage boy participants who have overcome body image issues or did not have such concerns, primarily due to the support they obtained from their parents and the awareness earned through psychotherapy. The first teenager struggled in the past with comparisons to others, specifically concerning the ideal masculine figure. He encountered self-image and identity issues and said, ‘I could be like this if I worked hard enough.’ However, he shared that therapy at a younger age played an essential role in his journey towards self-acceptance. He slowly discovered the significance of self-love and stopped aiming to meet unrealistic standards. Now, he enjoys going to the gym for fun with friends. He no longer compares himself to others, comprehending that understanding how the human body functions, the role of genetics, and the importance of a balanced diet is crucial to a healthy self-image. The second teenager realized the dual nature of social media. At the same time, it offers chances for interaction and access to helpful information; it also promotes unhealthy comparisons and can be a powerful distraction. He noticed how social media is full of body shaming and has a significant effect on sensitive teenagers. Also, he shared that social media tends to display only perfect bodies while ignoring the beauty of various body types. He believes people are naturally beautiful just the way they are, and one’s worth should not be only determined by physical appearance. The third and fourth participants’ journeys towards a healthy body image were significantly shaped by the persistent support of their parents, who prioritized building their self-confidence and self-esteem. They were taught that maintaining a healthy balance is what truly matters. They never had any body image issues, as they shared that they were and are always fit. They emphasized the importance of regular physical activity and a balanced diet to support overall well-being. These two participants do not visit the gym and are happy, as they believe in training their bodies to make them feel healthy and in control. They are well aware of the filters and modified social media representations, understanding that they differ significantly from real life. Notably, they hold no shame about their body and vigorously encourage a healthy lifestyle and motivation. One of them said, ‘It is my body, and I do not let anyone bully me, nor am I influenced by negative people.’ They stressed the value of realizing that everyone is different and unique. The third participant’s advice to teenagers was the following: ‘No one looks exactly like anyone else; we are different. I usually see my friends influenced by societal and cultural beauty norms; however, I always remind them that they do not have to fit such standards, mainly regarding muscle size. I urge all teenagers to concentrate on fitness as a means of being healthy, not as an end in itself. Do not let it change your identity.’ The fourth participant highlighted that not everyone should desire to be a bodybuilder, and individuals should prioritize overall physical well-being over appearance. ‘The journey matters, not the destination. Everything takes time, and we have to work for it. Let what you are exposed to act as motivation, rather than leading to insecurities.’
It is worth noticing how the interview delivered a captivating collection of opinions, reflecting how the existence or absence of parental support and therapy played a crucial role in shaping these experiences. Inadvertently, parents’ remarks and their approach to their kids’ body image can hold a profound influence on teenage boys’ social and emotional well-being.
Now, let us go back to the influential impact of social media on teenage boys’ body image, particularly for those who are sensitive and vulnerable. The persistent portrait of the ideal masculine body on social media, with its well-cut muscles, chest, and abs, repeatedly fuels insecurities in these teenagers. Social media can be a trigger, stretching these issues. However, it is crucial to recognize that social media is just one aspect and element of a larger picture. To thoroughly address these body image insecurities, future research should dig deeper to find and uncover their root causes. This investigation may show the critical role of parental relationships in shaping a teenager’s self-perception, self-concept, and self-esteem. By understanding the different impacts at play, there will be more sufficient strategies to encourage and enable healthier body image among teenagers.
Social media remains changing and developing in popularity, and its influential impact on teenagers shows no sign of slowing. However, social media can present critical challenges for young generations even though it is advertised as somewhat positive and provides connectivity and knowledge sharing. “Adolescence is a vulnerable period for the development of body image issues, eating disorders, and mental illness, and youth are spending, on average, between six to eight hours per day on screens, much of it on social media,” said lead author Gary Goldfield, Ph.D., of Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute. Social media expose users to thousands of pictures and images every day, including those of celebrities and fashion or fitness models, which can lead to an internalization of beauty ideals that are impossible for nearly everyone, resulting in more notable dissatisfaction with body weight and shape. Awareness of body ideals begins early and reveals children’s understanding of the world around them. In one study, children aged three to five were required to select a figure from a scope of thin to large sizes to symbolize a child with positive or negative attributes. They were, for instance, told which children would be mean or kind, who would be bullied by others, and whom they would invite to the birthday. The children learned to choose large-sized figures to symbolize the negative attributes. Others significantly affected this bias; for instance, their mothers’ thoughts and beliefs about body shapes affected the result.
Similarly, the older children showed a more significant bias than the younger ones, indicating that it was learned, not innate. This indicates that children’s social environments are crucial in developing their body shape and size insights. “We see the patterns whereby children are attributing the positive characteristics to the thinner figures and negative characteristics to the larger figures,” says Sian McLean, a psychology lecturer at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, specializing in body dissatisfaction. “They are developing that quite early, which is a concern because they potentially have the chance to internalize that perception, that being larger is undesirable and being thinner is desirable and associated with social rewards.” While parents play an essential role in shaping their children’s attitudes and perceptions, and the research shows that parents’ views matter. Research has revealed that family environments in which perfection and control are the norms and where concerns of weight and appearance are dominant can lead to the rise of body image issues and even eating disorders. A range of parental characteristics, such as demanding and perfectionist mothers who may be overcritical, jealous, pushy, or by contrast, nonresponsive, neglectful, and reserved or passive and dependent, have also been related to the family profiles of children and teenagers with body image issues.
As teenagers’ quick take-up of social media remains, it is crucial to implement a media literary approach that decreases the risks without limiting the significant opportunities and benefits digital technologies and social media offer. Media literacy assists people in understanding and assessing all of the media messages they face daily, encouraging them to make better choices about what they choose to read, watch, and listen to. Media literacy education can help teenagers become responsive to prejudice and understand how to appreciate diversity. Various studies have shown that media literacy interferences decrease body dissatisfaction, which can result from media message consumption. For example, one study revealed how college women who were at high risk for eating disorders stated less body dissatisfaction, a lower desire to be thin, and decreased internalization of societal beauty standards after joining a media literacy intervention (Coughlin et al., 2006). So many other studies have uncovered that media literacy education can help people better discover and recognize the truth of media claims, allowing them to distinguish reality from non-reality and make better decisions. Teenagers should be empowered to be accountable online participants and educated about proper digital use and risks. Industry should be encouraged to deliver relevant, appropriate content and tools. Furthermore, social media is not an independent energy that causes teenagers to develop body image issues. Social media is an initial source that teenagers can draw from to create their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This uncovers that teenagers can selectively integrate cultural insights and practices into their perceptions and behaviors based on their beliefs and experiences with their social world, not only on social media but with family and peers. In other words, social media is not a unified system that pushes behavior in a fixed direction. It is a complex and dynamic process made by the connections between teenagers and their social environment. This signifies that social media only has an impact on behavior when it is incorporated into human interaction.
Influence is mediated through groups such as families, where the fundamental work of constructing a teenager’s identity occurs. McGoldrick (1993) indicates that family interactions and dynamics define the broader cultural context for teenagers, making the family a necessary mediator of culture. A powerful effect on identity and families contributes considerably to the formation of self-image (Walsh, 1993). Understanding how parents convey cultural messages about body shape, size, and weight to their teenage kids and the way they transmit these messages is essential in understanding the procedures tangled in the development of body image and the power of these procedures on the appearance and growth of body image issues and eating disorders. The comments teenagers get from their parents about their bodies can play a significant role in developing body image and eating disorders. While this is hardly done in a hateful way, more so from generational misinformation, it can still severely affect teenagers’ self-esteem and how it links to their body shape. Keel et al. (1997) found that parental criticisms or remarks about their kids’ weight were linked with eating disorders development and body image dissatisfaction. This connection was also shown by Vincent McCabe (2000) when looking at how parental remarks on encouragement to lose weight are linked to body image dissatisfaction and eating disorders. These comments usually originate from a desire for perfection (Goel et al., 2020) from their kids, and these expectations of perfection may continue and be exhibited as body image issues and eating disorders.
In conclusion, it is necessary to start investigating beyond social media’s surface so that there is a much clearer understanding of the root causes of body image issues in teenagers, which paves the way to study and analyze how parental relationships affect teenagers’ body image issues. In other words, as mentioned many times, social media shapes teenagers’ body image perceptions. However, it is essential to identify that parental relationships can also substantially affect how teenagers think and feel about their body image, including shape, size, and weight. A more precise understanding of the sophistication of teenagers’ body image issues can develop when more research digs deeper into the relationship dynamics between parents and their kids and its effect on their self-image formation and body image perceptions.
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