The perfect body: Is social media changing the way we look at ourselves?

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Do you worry about your shape? Do you look in the mirror every morning and wish you were someone different? Journalist Natalia Dabrowska investigates the reasons behind the importance of having a perfect body in this day and age.

WHY do we all care so much about the way we look? There are no problems or issues with our bodies, the problems are buried in our minds, what we think about our bodies and the way we see ourselves.

Everyone looks differently and always will, no one’s body type or shape will ever be the same. A Harlow College student, Elodie Gibby suffers from spina bifida, which is a birth defect caused by incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord which causes nerve damage and because of that she is in a wheelchair.

Harlow College Student, Elodie Gibby

Due to her disability people do tend to look at her differently, especially adults in her opinion because they are told to act in a certain way towards it and it scares them, whereas kids who don’t understand it don’t pay as much attention to it.

Elodie Gibby said: “People will never ask about a disability because they assume it’s something you feel really upset about and some people do, but I’m personally like it’s just how I’m made, it’s not a big deal.”

In the recent years the society became fixed on trying to look like celebrities do on social media. This is causing people to want to change their beautiful bodies into what they think is a ‘perfect’ body type or shape.

The Harlow College student believes that this is happening because social media is always in our face, everyone talks about it, and everyone sees it on daily basis. Elodie said: “We are swamped by it, even if you pick up your phone, you are scrolling through your feed and you are realising like, oh my god I’m seeing these figures and I wish I look like that.

“When I was younger I used to think I look completely different. I have scoliosis as well so that made me think I don’t have that body type that everyone has but now I’m literally like ‘So what? It doesn’t matter.’”

She believes that social media influencers could do something to help with this issue as right now all you see on YouTube are videos showing others how to Photoshop their pictures well. She thinks that talking about all different sizes is not all they should talk to their audience about. She said: “People should be told ‘It doesn’t matter what your shape is at all because it’s still pretty.’”

Many people who do try and change their bodies to look better, to look like the society expects them to look tend to go to the gym. Many of them are women who feel like they need a nicer body because they think that this is what men are looking for.

A personal trainer from Xercise4Less, Oliver Smith said: “I would perceive that they feel like they need to be skinny and to be a certain size because of what they see in the media and it’s not actually what men are looking for.” He believes that men prefer more natural women and that is what they are looking for, believe it or not but not many men don’t like skinny women.

Xercise4Less personal trainer, Oliver Smith

Oliver Smith has been a personal trainer for a year and a half, he started working in that area because of his own experience with weight loss. When he was about 20-years-old he weight 19 stone and through his hard work and exercising he went from 19 to 12 and a half stone. “One day I saw a photo of myself and was let’s say disgusted is a quite a strong word but I wasn’t very happy that that’s what I looked like and I didn’t realise that that’s how I looked like.”

Since he’s been working at Xercise4less he realised that there are more women who attend gym. As he said the ratio is 7 out of 10 people who get a personal trainer are women. Oliver said: “They find the gym intimidating, so having someone else there reassuring them that no one is watching them or anything like that.

“Usually it’s women more because men like to think that they know what they are doing. Their egos get in the way.” Though many men still feel pressured to look good, they are just better at hiding it. Deep down they want to have nice bodies just like women do, they don’t talk about it.

People shouldn’t try and change the way they look because of what they see on social media, if anything they should just try and keep healthy (both physically and mentally) for themselves and no one else. The healthy amount of calories for a woman is 2,500 a day and an average man should have around 3,000 calories a day.

A British actress,comedian and presenter, Juliette Burton suffered and suffers from mental health illnesses including eating disorders, she said: “I actually was diagnosed before social media so my eating disorders developed very early on. I discovered I had problems with food at the age of 6 or 7.” That was way before they knew of social media and she’s already been in hospital five times before any of her friends were on Twitter, Instagram or any other social media platforms.

British actress, comedian and presenter Juliette Burton,Picture taken from: http://www.andrewroachtalent.com/juliette-burton/

When talking about social media she said: “It can be a positive thing, a positive network of people and a family that you can make yourself and it can be a family of support. I find that social media can help me an awful lot.”

There are two opinions on whether social media is causing us to look at ourselves differently and want to change because of what we see on it. What do you think? Are our problems with body image caused by social media? Share your opinions below.

However, what you need to remember is what a lifestyle writer, Collin Wright once said: “Your body isn’t a temple, it’s a home you’ll live in forever. Take care of it”


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