by Daya Brown, Westlake High School
Have you ever imagined the mind of young women? Let’s start off with the fact: it’s a lot that happens up there. Some may think that there is a warzone of thoughts that happen in their minds. According to Shahilla Barok, a lifestyle coach and NLP practitioner, women have 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. It may seem unbelievable and crazy, but girls love it! In this article, however, let’s focus on the broader aspect of how females view social media. The question is, how do women redefine themselves due to the abundant use of social media?
A study published by Northwestern University* found that social media affects teen girls mentally more than teen boys. This isn’t shocking to most because social media idolizes what this so called, “perfect woman” should be. Which is a fit body, amazing clothes, perfect skin, and beautiful hair. It’s not wrong to want some of these things. However, some women make it their duty to change themselves because of what they see on every day on social media.
To go deeper in detail with this topic, I interviewed a few girls to see how they felt about social media.
VOX ATL: So, tell me, do you think that women redefine themselves due to the abundance use of social media?
Karma Bridges: One of my goals personally is to try to be authentic through social media…I think at the same time it is empowering for a lot of girls, because we can look at each other and find things in ourselves that we didn’t notice by looking at our friend’s social media… I feel like we can redefine ourselves in that way by being inspired by the people around us.
Josie Whitehead: Social media is influenced. I feel like it can either be a bad influence or positive influence. You can also redefine yourself in a good way because sometimes you can receive motivation… It really depends on the person and their morals when it comes to social media. All women aren’t necessarily affected in a negative way by social media.
VOX ATL: Do you think that we tend to live up to the stereotype of perfection?
Karma Bridges: I do. I think that’s when social media becomes a little bit toxic…I think it’s very much focused on your outside appearance, which is another reason why I try to focus under the umbrella of showing who I am with my Instagram. There is this image that we are supposed to look like that tries to convey what the word pretty or beauty truly is. It comes a time where knowing that you are beautiful but then second guessing your beauty.
Hailee Walker: I feel as if some females try to rush life to fit into a certain lifestyle. Some define their purpose morally on what they see celebrities doing. Women tend to lose their worth and settle for less.
VOX ATL: Have you ever had a time where you felt as if you weren’t enough, or enough as a whole due to the overwhelming sense of social media ?
Emma LaGon: Yeah, because I would see girls posting pool pictures and exposing their super cute bodies. I felt as if even if I worked out I will never look like that. There was once a time where I cared about a guy’s opinion, and I wanted to hear that I was pretty. Though I had to stop and wonder, Why doesn’t my opinion matter? I think as human beings we want that feeling of feeling good because it’s a part of life.
Karma Bridges: Definitely, I think it’s hard not to because of the culture…I think the best way to look at social media is to really accept yourself and who you are. Also, to know that there is no one in this world who is just like you, who looks like you, who has the same personality as you, or same style as you. Everybody is different in their own way… I think that we should be highlighting the beautiful and unique parts of each and every person [who] is vulnerable enough to show themselves to the world.
VOX ATL: What’s your thought process on the saying, “social media is not reality?”
Kalize Rountree: People show what they want you to see. They won’t show themselves in a state where they aren’t doing their best. Some people will only show the moments that are considered perfect to them. That’s the problem with social media: people think that everybody’s life is so called perfect.
VOX ATL: Have you ever felt pressured by social media?
Emma LaGon: There was a time where I felt pressured to change my personality…I used to feel like people won’t accept me for being different. People are scared to try something new, so they tend to look down on others who decide to step out of the box.
Karma Bridges: For me, I have a very big following base. Sometimes there are things that I don’t want to share. It could be something that brings me so much joy it’s almost more special if I don’t share. It’s knowing that I have the power to not share things. I think that things can still be special even when you are just living in the moment.
VOX ATL: Have you taken any precautions when you realized that you were too emotionally invested with social media?
Emma LaGon: For a period of time I turned off my comments under my posts. I noticed that I started to care too much about how many comments I had under my pictures. I had to ask myself, Who am I doing this for? My page is for me, it’s for pleasing myself. It’s not for getting reassurance from half of the people who I’ve never met before.
VOX ATL: Why do you think girls often fall into this ideology where they try and distance themselves from what the stereotypical version of feminist that they were told to perform ?
Karma Bridges: I think that definitely comes with comparing yourself…As soon as people come on and are different, then some people try to run away from that difference. There is definitely a beauty standard. I think it also comes from “white beauty” and how systematically America has tried to instill what beauty is, and I think that it has a lot to do with taking little pieces of Black culture and mixing it in with what white beauty is. And there you go — that’s what beauty is. Of course, a majority isn’t going to look like that. That comes from people looking at social media and realizing the difference of followers and likes; it stemmed from the way they look. That gets into their head, and they think that’s what they’re supposed to look like. When in reality it is something that society completely made up, because there’s so many different aspects of what beauty truly is. There are so many different people in the world who have something to share. I feel like it’s not only what you look like on the outside, but even more so on about who you are.
Jaylin Elison: Most females know who they are and love who they are. All they see is whatever people believe is the perfect female, they chose not to be in that category for a reason. They know that’s not what they want to be perceived as. They want to be themselves.
VOX ATL: What do you think factors into women feeling like they have to be a certain kind of way on social media ?
Emma LaGon: Some girls think that’s how you get the approval of men. Females who are insecure don’t look for approval from females, they look for approval through men. Another factor might be Instagram models. People tend to look into the “perfection” but don’t realize some models have insecurities as well.
VOX ATL: Has social media been a positive, negative, or a mix of both kinds of atmosphere?
Emma LaGon: A mix of both, because in August I posted a picture of me in a bikini. I had written a paragraph about being self-confident and nobody should fall into the stereotypes of social media… The post is still up because I look at it when I’m feeling insecure. I received a whole bunch of positive comments. The only reason why I keep social media is for the people who praise difference. Then there’s the trolls. I have had an experience with a girl and she would compare one of my pictures to a Gatorade bottle. The only thing that made me stay on social media was the thought in the back of my mind which was, Who cares?
As you continue to learn that perfection isn’t real it, will be difficult to understand at first. You may admire the way someone dresses or the way she looks. Maybe you just adore the way she captivates the room when she walks through the door. You ponder all the reasons why you can’t pose just like her in a photo. You find yourself looking in the mirror asking yourself, why can’t I look like her? However, the truth is, you aren’t like other girls. And that’s the point.
Women tend to fall into a hole which is social media. For hours and hours, some women scroll down this false reality of what being a woman truly is. We forget about how we move when we walk in a room or how we could change the world. Instead, we focus on the exterior of it all, even when we don’t notice it. More than a few of us tend to follow the stereotype of perfection and forget about the colors and religions that you surround yourself with. Some women come in different shapes and sizes. A diverse group of different hair textures, lengths, straight, curly, braids, twist, you name it! Personalities that may jump off of the wall, or more calm than others. The one thing that we share in common is that we are all women. You’re not like other girls, and that ’s the beauty of it all.
Daya Brown, 15, attends Westlake High School.
* Editor’s note: The study mentioned by Northwestern’s Counseling Department was conducted using data from a UK Millennium Cohort Study on 10,904 14-year olds and originally published in January 2019.