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Media’s Impact on Body Image: Navigating the Influence

January 23, 2024

Today’s society holds a strong emphasis on social media, and the question of its impact on our body image becomes increasingly important. With the rise of platforms like TikTok and Instagram, it’s crucial to examine how influencers present themselves and how these presentations compare to societal standards. The media’s influence on body image encompasses both positive and negative aspects in shaping our perceptions of our bodies and the bodies of those around us.

Constant Comparisons

It is imperative to raise awareness and engage in discussions about the presence of idealized images and videos on social media platforms, which portray individuals who appear flawless either in their facial features or physique. This can cultivate unrealistic beauty standards, leading to discomfort and dissatisfaction with our own bodies. Social media often upholds a toxic environment where we find ourselves in a continuous cycle of comparing and striving to meet these beauty ideals. The constant exposure to content of the “normal” body type fuels comparisons and creates unrealistic expectations for ourselves, resulting in negative behaviors such as restricting food intake, self-criticism and excessive exercising.


The media has the power to objectify individuals, prioritizing physical appearance over personality and accomplishments. Some platforms even encourage an idealized version of ourselves, causing us to base our self-worth on external validation. This objectification creates an environment where physical appearance seems to be of greatest importance, potentially leading to heightened levels of anxiety and depression, consequently raising body dissatisfaction and lowering self-esteem.


Social media has also become a ground for cyberbullying, where we are subjected to criticism and harassment based on body shape and appearance. These hurtful comments can greatly impact our self-esteem and self-perception. It is a challenge not to internalize surging negative comments about physical appearance, contributing to a toxic atmosphere and reinforcing unrealistic beauty standards as a defense mechanism against further harassment. The increase of objectifying comments on the internet can have adverse effects on both mental and physical health.

Changing the Tone

Promoting body positivity can be a healthy aspect of social media. Amidst the rising negative impacts on body image, there is also a growing wave of positivity. People are sharing realistic images of themselves and promoting self-acceptance and self-love. Much of this content advocates positive representation by highlighting the diversity of body types, challenging unrealistic beauty standards and fostering a healthier body image.

Social media can also empower us to adopt healthier lifestyles by encouraging us to care for and appreciate our physical appearance. It serves as a platform to bring supportive communities together, providing a safe space for understanding and encouragement to those struggling with body image issues.

While media can have both negative and positive impacts on body image and mental health, recognizing how to navigate these domains positively can have the biggest impact of all. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Take a break: If you find that the content you are consuming is eliciting negative emotions and behaviors, step away from your device and engage in activities that boost your mood.
  • Unfollow or block accounts: Identify accounts that consistently produce content that impact your self-worth and take proactive steps to distance yourself from them.
  • Find uplifting content: Seek out content and accounts that promote self-esteem and make you feel good about yourself.
  • Challenge negative thoughts: Concentrate on your strengths and work on shifting your mindset away from negative self-perceptions.
  • Prioritize self-care: Don’t underestimate the importance of self-care in holistic well-being. It has numerous positive benefits for your overall health and self-esteem.

Start Therapy for Body Image in New York and Change your Negative Thoughts 

If you’re struggling with self-esteem and body image issues, starting therapy with Manhattan Wellness is a valuable step for seeking support and personal growth. Therapy can help you break free from negative thoughts, boost your self-esteem and help you live a more fulfilling life. If you feel that you’re not living the life you desire and need to make changes, beginning therapy can be a constructive step toward personal transformation.

Other Therapy Services Offered in Manhattan, Brooklyn, & Throughout New York

We offer a diverse range of individual counseling services and couples therapy. Our dedicated therapists can help with stress management, symptoms of depression, self-esteem challenges, and college student counseling. Additionally, we specialize in offering support for postpartum depression and anxiety, addressing body image concerns, and navigating the unique challenges faced by women, among other aspects. If you need support reach out to connect with a therapist.

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