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Do FB, Instagram lead to body shaming in youngsters?

As the desire to flaunt a well-sculpted figure is increasing among social media users, mental health experts on Tuesday said that those platforms can impact their self-confidence and self-esteem particularly if they are struggling with a low sense of self and often tend to compare themselves unfavourably.

The Wall Street Journal, recently, reported that Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram made body image issues worse for one in three teenage girls according to Facebook’s data.

“Having a fit physique is good. However, excessive display of the same could be reflective of exhibitionism,” Sameer Malhotra, Director, Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Max Hospitals, New Delhi, told IANS.

According to Mimansa Singh Tanwar, Clinical Psychologist, Department of Mental Health Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Healthcare, New Delhi, social media use has increased exponentially in recent times where one may lose balance of how much to engage and when to disengage.

“The need to conform to the stereotypes of an ideal body image or perfect picture or selfie creates a discrepancy between the real self and the portrayed self which can chip away their sense of individuality,” said Tanwar.

“It is imperative that we give them the skills on how to think critically when interacting with the platform. At the same time, empower them with life skills to boost their self-esteem and self-confidence,” she added.

On September 14, the WSJ published a story on The Facebook Files focused on data suggesting that Instagram had an extremely damaging effect on teenagers, especially teenage girls.

The newspaper said Facebook was well aware of the harm its products were doing to teenagers and that the company “has made minimal efforts to address these issues and plays them down in public”.

However, Facebook Vice President and Head of Research, Pratiti Raychoudhury dismissed the WSJ’s assessment of internal research as not accurate and denied the claims that Instagram was toxic for teenage girls.

Gaurav Molri, who is a certified ACE orthopaedic exercise specialist and an experienced personal trainer, feels that body shaming is simply a mindset of those who believe fitness is all about having a great body and a better appearance.

“It will be a completely different approach if the person can widen their thoughts about fitness,” the fitness influencer told IANS.

He emphasised that if fitness is viewed as a way of life, it will boost daily energy levels and can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

“On one hand one can aspire to get into healthy diet and fitness regimes; however at times it can also trigger obsessions, eating disorders, body image disturbances, self-esteem issues, wrong diets/self medication to attain similar results through short cuts,” Malhotra asserted.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)

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