How Many “Likes” Matter?

Illustration of L'il Hawkster body-shamed by muscle boy
"Hawkster wonders why his wings are so light" | Illustration by Parrish Broadnax

Social media plays a significant role in the way we view ourselves. New tech savvy gadgets that guarantee the best selfies come out seemingly as fast as taking a photo and sending a post. We are in constant competition with ourselves as well as others around us. Unrealistic and potentially harmful beauty ideals are promoted by all of us who cannot help but participate in the circulation of these images. Celebrity posts and user comments glamorize the use of the body to gain stardom. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Scarlett Johansson are praised every day for their body types. By contrast, celebrities like Jessica Simpson and Christina Aguilera are shamed or belittled for weight gain; user comments and tweets will call them fat and unattractive. These people are targeted, even while pregnant.

Social Networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat have made “likes” as much about being “disliked.” With up-to-the-minute feed updates on celebrities shamed for weight gain and loss of popularity as a result, the constant reminder of how important body image is to self-worth can be traumatizing.

Time Magazine recently published an article titled “How Social Media Is a Toxic Mirror” explaining the lasting impact of self-referential technology. It is not uncommon for many teens today to spend countless hours on social networking sites commenting and posting endless selfies of themselves for the world to see. Time Magazine says, “Visual platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat deliver the tools that allow teens to earn approval for their appearance and compare to others.” The phone is not a mirror, and the selfie is not a real representation of the self.

While there is no easy way to combat this issue, we can remind ourselves that our bodies, no matter the shape, are beautiful. The idea of being perfect is a lie. In some way shape or form we are all flawed. Regardless if you’re a size 2 or 16, we should love ourselves regardless of the latest Facebook post, Instagram or Snapchat image

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