Categories
Identity in Communities and Networks

The Impact of Social Media and Social Media Influencers on the Construction of Identity and Self-Esteem for Adolescent Males.

ABSTRACT: This paper focuses on the impact of social media and social media influencers on the construction of self-esteem and body image within adolescent males. Social networking sites have changed the way in which users not only interact with others but how they develop and interact with themselves. The constant exposure to a vast range of media, influences the ways in which users construct their own identity. The overall image that emerges from the literature depicts a negative correlation between the use of social media and adolescent males whilst developing self-esteem and their identity. This paper will discuss how social media influencers such as Elliot Burton are promoting unrealistic body ideals, as well as how these platforms influence the content in which users interact with to reinforce certain beliefs and values of the male physique. 

With the constant development and ease of accessibility for many social media platforms, such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, younger users are being exposed to a diverse range of content online, which may have the potential to influence their own self-perception. These online social media platforms enable adolescent males to build and interact with a virtual community. While affordances of Instagram such as image sharing, hashtags, and commenting enable celebrity influencers like Elliot Burton to promote health and well-being, this can have a negative and damaging influence on viewers’ perceptions of what is an ideal male body. This influence that these influencers possess, assists them to spread these messages to an ever-growing global audience generating and promoting unrealistic expectations for many adolescent males and significantly impacting their body image and self-esteem.

The need and desire for the ‘ideal body’ has been engrained into our lives since we can remember. Exposure to different types of media from a young age are becoming part of childhood development, and children in general are now spending more and more times consuming media. Traditional media such as film have promoted unrealistic body ideals to viewers for years. Asawarachan (2013) suggests that, Disney films play a significant role in the development of children’s role models and values compared to traditionally conventional forms of learning, including schools, families, and religious institutions. Due to Disney’s innocence in family entertainment, many people openly accept the messages presented. Furthermore, Disney characters uphold the stereotype of “what is beautiful is good” (Bazzini, Curtin, Joslin, Regan & Martz, 2010). This early influence of early traditional media is supported by Harrison (2000) suggesting both young boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 10 showed a positive correlation between viewing television and film and body concerns. As younger members of society are becoming more technologically competent, they are being exposed to the diverse world that is social media. These social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are significantly altering their beliefs and values from an earlier age, mimicking those impacts of traditional media and are presenting unrealistic expectations of health and beauty. Rodgers, et al. (2020, p. 400) state that, “exposure to such idealized images on adolescents’ own body image, which may in turn lead them to engage in disordered eating behaviours and muscle building behaviours, in the pursuit of these appearance ideals”. This shows how easily developing children react to what is presented to them through media channels on the construction of their identity and how presenting an unrealistic ideal can impact them for the rest of their life. This idea of the ideal body image varies between societies, cultures, and time, however, “It can be linked to critical physiological and psychological perceptions that can have serious, persistent, and even life-threatening outcomes for adolescents”. (Asawarachan,2013, p. 3, as cited by Johnson & Taylor, 2008). Furthermore, the role of print media such as magazines enable large viewership without needing direct attention from the audience. Walker, (2012, p. 2) states that, “Magazines are widely published and visually accessible to a large proportion of people. Even non-magazine readers are exposed to their covers as they are blatantly available in stores and newsstands.”. This ability to reach unsuspecting audiences fills in the gaps that other medians miss. Walker, (2012) continues by suggesting that even though male health and fitness magazines claim to promote and focus on health and fitness, they are heavily focused on the ideal male physique and the importance of achieving this body (as cited by, Boni, 2002; Gray & Ginsberg, 2007; Pope et al., 2000). This focus of an ideal male physique and achieving a perfect body has continued onto social media platforms as technologies have advanced and evolved, being ever more present within daily lives. Research at Pew Research Centre (2018) suggests that 45% of teenagers use the internet ‘almost constantly’. This proves how exposed adolescents are to consume influential media every day. De Vries, Peter, Nikken, & de Graaf (2014) suggests that visual oriented platforms such as Instagram and YouTube encourage users to post personal pictures and videos to their profiles, and gives others the ability to view, comment, and judge what you’re presenting. Trifiro (2018, p. 5) states that, “image-based social media posts have demonstrably different effects on users’ moods than text-based social media posts.”. These platforms have mimicked the role of traditional media by pushing a precedent on physical appearance to users via image-based platforms. Medvedev, Wu, & Gordon, (2019) explore how Instagram’s discover page works at generating content for users. They state that the software searches for pages that a user has interacted with before, either by; following, liking, commenting, sharing, and or saving, and then searches for other pages similar to push onto a user’s discover page. This curated discover page may result with a user getting stuck in a constant cycling of unrealistic body images due to previous interaction, resulting in constant reinforcement of an idealistic male physique. As a result, both traditional and social media significantly influence body perception of adolescent males to an unrealistic expectation. This shift to social media is resulting in more exposure to these expectations, normalising and reinforcing beliefs to adolescent males and lowering their self-esteem.

With the constant evolution of the internet from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, social media has taken over, enabling users to further create and interact with their online community, as well as discover a vast world of other networks. Burns (2008) suggests that social media refers to technologies that enable humans to interact, collaborate and connect with one another, online. In addition, Yang (2014) suggests that social networks have changed the way in which adolescents perceive themselves and construct their own identity, going past the traditional social attributes to more personal and influential factors such as ‘who am I’. Binalrimal (2019, p. 63) states that, “Nowadays, the use of social media has become an essential part of our daily lives. Most people rely on social media for entertainment, data gathering, and communication. The use of social media has transformed our society into a village where people can create, share, exchange data and interact easily.” Due to the expanding reliance on social media, we have seen a rise in users who have larger influence than others on these platforms. Jan-Frederik (2019) suggests that these influencers have arisen due to people idealising their identity and message online. As a result, social media influencers such as Richard Duchon have become a significant part of adolescent male’s lives, influencing their beliefs and values, including perceived perception of aesthetics, resulting in the desire to change one’s self physically. Walker, (2012) argues that, while celebrities and social media influences idealized figures are nearly impossible to achieve, they have set a societal standard that many people still strive to achieve. The subsequent pressure to match these standards may impact male body perceptions and exercise related beliefs. Social expectations have influenced both males and females for years, however with the access to social media, monitoring and viewing other people has positioned social expectations on aesthetics and beauty in the forefront of media consumption. Smith and Kim (2007, p. 49) state that “social envy is an unpleasant and often painful blend of feelings characterized by inferiority, hostility, and resentment caused by a comparison with a person or group of persons who possess something we desire.” This feeling of envy is being heightened by adolescent’s access to unrealistic expectations at earlier ages. This idea of envy is supported by Rodger et al., (2020, p. 400) “Male adolescents in Singapore suggested that comparisons with peers and celebrities on social media were associated with higher body dissatisfaction and drive for muscularity”. These social media influencers, especially health and fitness influencers do try to promote health and well-being content through the use of workout routines, and common advice surrounding diets, however their unrealistic body image is causing a negative effect on male adolescent viewers. Rodgers, Slater, Gordon, McLean, Jarman, & Paxton (2020, p. 400) state that “These characteristics increase the opportunities for unfavourable appearance comparisons, that is, upward comparisons with individuals judged to be more attractive than oneself.” However, Byrne, Kearney, & MacEvilly (2017, p.76) state that, “Many influencers are not registered dietitians or qualified nutritionists and often share false or misleading nutritional information with no scientific evidence; this can negatively impact diet and health.”. This underqualification of many influencers within the health and fitness industry may further impact adolescent males by providing false information, making their idealised body harder to obtain.

With the launce of Instagram in 2010, social networking platforms saw a new chapter of connectedness. Trifiro argues that the development of image-based social media platforms such as Instagram not only connect members of their social networks like previous platforms, but “visually engage with them through online pictures.”. (Trifiro, 2018, p. 3). Nierengarten (2017, p. 21) states that, “that users are both consumers and creators of the content.”. The ability to both view and publishes content creates a constant cycle for audiences being subjected to unrealistic images online, then feeling the need to try and post idealised images of themselves to feel a sense of gratification from followers. The ability to create an online identity provides many adolescent males the power to present themselves in the most idealistic way to either conform with societal pressures, or to mimic social media influencers. Fox, Bacile, Nakhata, & Weible (2018, p. 15) state that, “the actual self-concept represents how an individual sees him or herself in actuality (i.e. in everyday life), whereas the ideal self represents how an individual would like to be seen by others.”. This ability to present their ideal self is facilitated through the use of social media platforms such as Instagram. Fox et al. (2018) continue by suggesting that Instagram is used as almost a visual diary for users, posting and depicting special occasions or when they’re looking at their best. This search for posting themselves at their best points is supported by Pilgrim & Bohnet-Joschko (2019, p. 7), stating that “the urge for perfectionism and being thin as an ideal of beauty are exactly those user groups who feel more attracted to social networks in order to experience confirmation and satisfy their personal need for security.”. As a result, these users who feel the need to search for perfection are often heavily influenced by those who they follow on social media. As these users search for perfection, they often alter their own appearance to mimic what they are seeing online from their role models and in the search for peer acceptance. Goffman (1959, p. 121), states that, “Sometimes the individual will act in a thorough calculating manner, expressing himself in a given way solely in order to give the kind of impression to others that is likely to evoke from a specific response he is concerned to obtain.”. As a result, adolescent males will position their online social identity to conform to what their peers and role models are doing to generate a response of acceptance. Goffman (1959) continues to suggest that, although some responses even though they may be passive, any interaction with ones presented self may reinforce their idealistic representation, continuing to support this ideal image of themselves and what is considered to be perfect. As adolescents are continuously being exposed to unrealistic expectations online, they will try to replicate these expectations to feel a sense of self-worth and to fit in with societal ideologies.

In conclusion, the development and consistent use of social networking sites, such as Instagram has provided affordances for fitness influencers to teach others about health and wellbeing, however, has led to the impact of adolescent male’s construction of identity and influenced their perception of what it means to be attractive. Instagram has not only enabled users to establish connections and networks online but has provided a platform for them to discover new ideologies about self-image. This evolution of media from traditional to now social media, has further normalised the unrealistic expectations of what is considered beautiful and attractive, becoming a societal norm for adolescents around the world.

References:

Asawarachan, T. (2013). The Disney Influence on Kindergarten Girls’ Body Image. Journal of Early Childhood Education. 1-83. Retrieved from https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc271773/m2/1/high_res_d/dissertation.pdf

Bazzini, D., Curtin, L., Joslin, S., Regan, S., & Martz, D. (2010). Do animated Disney characters portray and promote the beauty-goodness stereotype? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(10), 2687-2709. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2010.00676.x/full

Binalrimal, S. (2019). The effect of social media on the perception and demand of aesthetic dentistry. Journal of Advanced Medical and Dental Sciences Research, 7(5), 63-67. https://doi.org/10.21276/jamdsr

Boni, F. (2002). Framing media masculinities: Men’s lifestyle magazines and the biopolitics of the male body. European Journal of Communication, 17, 165- 478. https://doi.org/10.1177/02673231020170040401

Burns, K. S. (2008, May). A historical examination of the development of social media and its application to the public relations industry. In Proceedings of The International Communication Association Conference in Montreal, Canada

Byrne, E., Kearney, J., & MacEvilly, C. (2017). The role of influencer marketing and social influencers in public health. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 76. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0029665117001768

Cafri, G., van den Berg, P., & Thompson, J. (2006). Pursuit of Mascularity in Adolescent Boys: relations among biopsychosocial variables and clinical outcomes. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 35(2), 283-291. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15374424jccp3502

de Vries, D., Peter, J., Nikken, P., & de Graaf, H. (2014). The effect of social network site use on appearance investment and desire for cosmetic surgery among adolescent boys and girls. Sex Roles, 71(9-10), 283-295. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11199-014-0412-6

Fox, A., Bacile, T., Nakhata, C., & Weible, A. (2018). Selfie-marketing: Exploring narcissism and self-concept in visual user-generated content on social media. The Journal of Consumer Marketing, 35(1), 11-21. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCM-03-2016-1752

Gray, J. J., & Ginsberg, R. L. (2007). Muscle dissatisfaction: An overview of psychological and cultural research and theory. In J.K. Thompson & G. Cafri (Eds.), The muscular ideal: Psychological, social, and medical perspectives (pp. 15-39). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association

Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. London: Harmondsworth. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=TlIAzT5uT-IC&oi=fnd&pg=PA120&dq=self+presentation+in+everyday+life&ots=ItLeblJtk5&sig=J18al4gSmoK49XBKn5_R5nFwJ4I#v=onepage&q=self%20presentation%20in%20everyday%20life&f=false

Harrison, K. (2000). Television viewing, fat stereotyping, body shape standards, and eating disorder symptomology in grade school children. Communication Research, 27, 617-640. https://doi.org/10.1177/009365000027005003

Jan-Frederik, G. (2019). What KPIs are key? evaluating performance metrics for social media influencers. Social Media + Society, 5(3), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305119865475

Johnston, J. & Taylor, J. (2008). Feminist consumerism and fat activists: A comparative study of grassroots activism and the Dove Real Beauty campaign. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 33(4), 941-966. https://doi.org/10.1086/528849

Medvedev, I., Wu, H., & Gordon, T. (2019, November 25). Powered by AI: Instagram’s Explore recommender system [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://ai.facebook.com/blog/powered-by-ai-instagrams-explore-recommender-system/

Nierengarten, M. (2017). Influence of social media on teenagers’ body image. Contemporary Pediatrics, 34(10), 21-22. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/2017969955?accountid=10382

Nierengarten, M. B., M.A. (2017). Influence of social media on teenagers’ body image. Contemporary Pediatrics, 34(10), 21-22. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/docview/2017969955?accountid=10382

Pew Research Center. (2018). Social Media Fact Sheet. [Data file]. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/

Pilgrim, K., & Bohnet-Joschko, S. (2019). Selling Health and Happiness; How Influencers Communicate on Instagram About Dieting and Exercise: Mixed Methods Research. BMC Public Health, 19(1054), 1-9. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-7387-8

Pope, H. G., Phillips, K. A., & Olivardia, R. (2000). The Adonis complex: The secret crisis of male body obsession. Sydney: The Free Press.

Ricciardelli, L., & McCabe, M. (2004). A biopsychosocial model of disordered eating and the persuit of muscularity in adolescent boys. Psychological Bulletin, 130(2), 179. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.130.2.179

Rodgers, R. F., Slater, A., Gordon, C. S., McLean, S. A., Jarman, H. K., & Paxton, S. J. (2020). A biopsychosocial model of social media use and body image concerns, disordered eating, and muscle-building behaviors among adolescent girls and boys. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 49(2), 399-409. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-019-01190-0

Smith, R. H., & Kim, S. H. (2007). Comprehending envy. Psychological Bulletin, 133(1), 46–64. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.133.1.46

Trifiro, B. (2018). Instagram Use and Its Effect on Well-Being and Self-Esteem. Master of Arts in Communication. 4(1-26). Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.bryant.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1003&context=macomm

Walker, J. L. (2012). Magazine images depicting the ideal fit male body: An outlet for influencing body perceptions and exercise related cognitions. 20(1), 1-17. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/docview/1220887967?accountid=10382

Yang, H. (2014). Young people’s friendship and love relationships and technology: New practices of intimacy and rethinking feminism. Asian Journal of Women’s Studies, 20(1), 93-124,180. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/12259276.2014.11666174

28 replies on “The Impact of Social Media and Social Media Influencers on the Construction of Identity and Self-Esteem for Adolescent Males.”

Hey Sam!
Great topic choice – I think self-esteem for young men in social media is a topic not explored as much as it should be, I feel like we focus more on young women (which is still an important topic! But discussed often nonetheless). Would you agree?
I liked how you outlined that this has been a problem since the beginning of a life. We do often see the ideal body romanticised in digital media! It could have been interesting to see screenshots from Instagram of the male gym community – something I feel is very popular.
I would have enjoyed more focus on a case study from a research study done on a group of young men, but I still really enjoyed your paper! It made me think after reading it. Did you encounter any examples of this within your research? I would love a quote or statistics!
Anne-Marie

Hi Sam,

Thanks so much for reaching out to me and sharing your paper. I really enjoyed reading you and you have captured the topic of social media influencers and their impact on our perception of ideal body image so well.

Your reference to Trifiro’s position on how image based social media platforms such as Instagram effects users was interesting to me, and the idea that the shift to Web 2.0 mediums that focus on imagery vs text-based content, highlights the behavioural impacts that body image photos may have on the audience. As you say, if 45% of teenagers are using the internet almost constantly, and by that they are viewing high amounts of content featuring fitness influencer after fitness influencer, and seeing incredibly maintained muscular physiques, I can appreciate the unhealthy correlation adolescents will make between themselves and the individuals they are idolising. Isn’t it fascinating how we have been shaped to accept what is attractive from the Disney movies we watched as kids through to the social media platforms we use today.

In considering our two papers and the individual positions we took, with my paper focused on the positive of online comparison to peers for meeting health and fitness goals, do you think that we give influencers too much recognition in how they have impacted societies perceptions of the ideal physique? Is it the influencer or is it how the audience receives them and in turn how they react in response?

Given that, as you state users are both consumers and creators of social media content, don’t we as individuals have a choice in what we consume and what we choose to post? Why is it that we choose to not follow or interact with the social media account of an individual that portrays a body image that is unrealistic to us? Even though I myself am a millennial, 32 years and a user of Instagram, I struggle to understand the celebrity culture of the social media influencer (back in my day… haha!). I understand the pressure to conform to society’s ideals of beauty and how we are influenced by what we are exposed to, so why not then are we at the free will of ourselves to choose what we see?

Kate

Hi Kate and Sam

Great paper by the way Sam! I agree with Anne-Marie, we defiantly do not talk about the effect social media can have on the identity and self esteem of males enough.

I just read your comment Kate and found your points particularly interesting. I feel as though what we are exposed to on Instagram and other social networking sites, is based on what we respond best to (follow, like etc.). The reason there is an ‘idolised’ beauty does come from a long time ago, (Sam had some very good points here with Disney movies being the example), however, i feel like it is the way in which we respond, we respond to a beautiful girl more than someone that may appear unattractive unfortunately that is just the way i think society is.

That’s not to say we aren’t patterned to think a certain way, these attractive influencers on Instagram all get a huge amount of traffic, otherwise they wouldn’t be well known, and there is a reason for it. We are positioned to want to be like them, they have this idolised lifestyle and we all want to replicate it. Although it makes me think, even ‘normal’ accounts often show the best version of them self online. So maybe we all do it to some extent, some just get more traffic then others, and i think that comes down to how bad you want it.

I honestly think we all have a choice, the problem i think starts when we are consumed by unrealistic posts, when an influencer starts editing their photos or ‘filtering’ them to the point where it is unrealistic that is when it can be very discouraging and affect the self-esteem of men and women.

It would be great to live in a world where everyone would show their authentic self on social media and we bring each other up, because it is almost like we are in competition with each other, whoever has the most followers wins? What do you guys think?

Also I have written my paper on a very similar just targeting young women more. Check it out if you have time. https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/10/misleading-online-beauty-perceptions-influences-young-females-confidence/

Hi Chantelle,

Thanks for your comments. You make a great discussion point regarding the authenticity of not only influencer profiles but also of everyday ‘normal’ users. Your comment mentioning the fact that the attention we give and receive is really only equal to how much we want it, speaks to the competitive nature in some social media users to gain attention, likes, support, comments and followers.

At the influencer level, I can appreciate that this could be detrimental to the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of an audience that admires and trusts a leader that they assume is authentic and transparent with them online.

I too like to think that we have choice in what we consume and create online. I wondered though, have either of you found in your research any discussions about the types of individuals or groups that are more susceptible to influence by an influencer?

Kate

Hi Kate,

Thanks for your response you have raised some interesting points and question. My paper focuses on young females, so this may appear biased to say I think it influencers effects young females the most, based on my research. An article I read from Boyd, d (2017) it said girls participate in SNS culture more than boys with 70% vs 57%.

However, that is not to say that any other groups like young men aren’t influenced, I think statistically young females use social media more, and females also tend to put more effort in looking good. At the same time, it is unfair to just state a particular gender to be more susceptible to be influenced by an influencer because it is based more on interest and values. If an individual wants to become an influencer they will be more susceptible to be influenced. This is because once you start to react to Instagram influencers, Instagram will generate other posts similar to that and capture your attention on the discover page. It is also important to note what that influencer is known for, for example if they are a skin and makeup influencer, you might find majority of the followers will be female. So its based highly on the interest i think.

Chantelle

Hi Chantelle,

Thanks for taking the time to read my paper! I look forward to reading yours!

I definitely agree that it would be so great if everyone would post their authentic selves to their social media rather than their ideal-self. I agree that these influencers are influencers because of the way that they look, otherwise they wouldn’t be getting the traffic that they are getting for every post. However, I feel as if these people need to be made aware that some of their content significantly impacts the way in which their audience perceives themselves.

Like these influencers in a certain way are role models for many people. And as a role model they need to be aware that some of their actions are damaging to the people that look up to them.

Thanks again for reaching out and reading my paper.

Sam

Hey Kate,

Thanks for such a great few question!
After reading your paper and how for some members of the health and fitness community feel extremely motivated and inspired to reach the levels in which influencers that they follow are setting, I do feel as if in some circumstances we do give influencers, especially health and fitness influencers too much recognition. Don’t get me wrong, they are extremely athletic and are attempting to assist members of society in having a healthier lifestyle. However, some of these influencers haven’t acquired specific accreditation to provide accurate tips, especially on diet.

I believe that we follow these people that portray unrealistic expectations of health because we still wish to look like these influencers. I feel as if we definitely have a choice as to what we consumer, however I believe that for some individuals they might obsess over these influencers which may influence their own choices of what they want to consume, creating an unhealthy cycle.

Thanks for all the questions!

Sam

Hi Anne-Marie,

Thanks for taking the time to read and reply to my paper. I completely agree there is a significant focus on the impact of social media and social media influencers on the development of adolescent women (which is still very important) however, I believe that like young women, males are also heavily impacted by these same issues. I personally believe that in some circumstances males struggle with this even more as there is additional societal pressure for males to be perceived as tough and not emotional, discouraging them from communicating about self-esteem issues with others.

I completely agree the the gym community plays a significant impact on influencing not only males but females also perception of ideal body and beauty.

In my research it was extremely difficult to find case studies and statistics as there hasn’t been enough research on the implications on males to compare data between. However, all papers suggested that more research is needed in this area.

Once again thank you for engaging with my paper, and feedback!

Hi Sam, your paper caught my attention since this the male self-esteem isn’t a topic that is widely discussed compared to females. Your paper was intriguing since social media always focuses on the female ideal body and beauty rather than both females and males. This was a refreshing perspective due to my lack of understanding in male self-esteem due to the pressure of an ideal body. I agree with your statement about social media creating a visual diary that pressures adolescents into developing an ‘ideal body’. This is an ongoing issue within this society and an issue that people around me are constantly battling. I reckon social media can be a toxic but also self-branding platform due to people sharing their best traits and filtering out their bad traits. Although it is toxic, I feel as though people share images of their body based on the intention of them showing self love rather than the intention of damaging other’s self-esteem.

My paper discusses the development of online identities within communities such as Subtle Asian Traits and how users are able to develop more than one identity within the digital world through self-branding and identity-linkage. Here is the link to my paper: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/09/the-development-of-online-identities-in-digital-communities/

Thanks for the interesting paper!

Thanks Alisha,

Yeah I agree, male self-esteem is often discussed significantly less than it is for females. I’m glad I could provide and alternate perspective for you, and provide examples that both males and females can be negatively impacted by social media in the same way.

I do agree with you that social media can be an extremely toxic environment, however like you mentioned it has almost become a necessary evil for many individuals and companies as it is such a useful tool for branding and advertising.

I agree as well that for the creator, they don’t intend to cause any damage to their audience by posting photos of themselves, however it is how their audience interacts with the photo that causes the damage.

Thank you for reaching out to me! I look forward to reading your paper.

Sam

Hi Sam,
I found your paper to be a great read! I have a question for you about your statements about Disney. I agree Disney plays such an impact on children and they do really expose them to different images of ones idea self but do you think Disney has started to adapt this and started to become more diverse and less of a stigma for the idea of “perfection” with its characters and the stories they portray?

Thanks!
Jade

Hi Jade,

Thanks for taking the time to read my paper!

I completely agree that within recent years Disney has become more open minded and diversified their prince and princess characters. The most notable I believe is Moana, breaking traditional Disney stereotypes of what a princess looks like.
I do believe that as Disney becomes more diverse within body types, ethnicities and potentially sexual orientation more children may be able to relate to these figures easier.

Thank you for your question.

Hi Sam,
I agree with Moana being a very noticeable diverse character of body images and characteristics but i think there is a few different characters that started to portray this before her. Princess Tiana from Princess Tiana and the frog is a good example of ethnicity and race. Another example is Pocahontas or Mulan they are both such popular characters within the Disney franchise and both display different race, culture and beliefs compared to most of the other princesses. Mulan also blow off all stereotypes of a “princess” and felt to follow her heart and what she truly believes in.

Thanks,
Jade

Hi Sam,

This is an exceptional paper, on a topic often underrated in the wider community.

I particularly found your discussion of Disney forming these ideal body images from a young age, then further solidified by constant consumption of social media, a fresh perspective on the issue.

With regards to your analysis of Instagram’s ‘Discover Page’ as a constant cycle of unrealistic images; do you think users should take some responsibility for supporting these unattainable body images? As this content is fed to users based on previous engagement with similar accounts.

My paper discusses a similar issue, focusing more on women and the role of influencers. I explored the importance of body positive influencers as well. It would be interesting to know if there were any male influencers fostering body positivity as well.

I would appreciate it if you took the time to read my paper. Here is the link: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/?s=need+for+validation

Once again, brilliant paper. I look forward to your feedback on my questions.

Hi Mia,

Thanks for reaching out to me and reading my paper! I had your paper in my upcoming list to read as I found yours to be extremely relevant to my own work.

I feel like Instagram’s discover page is quite a difficult thing to discuss as it is constantly evolving and updating based on interactions with other posts. However, I believe that once you’re exposed to an array of similar images on discover it is very difficult to escape.

Like Alisha mentioned I don’t believe that it is in the creators mind that the content that they are creating and distributing is causing any harm to their audience. I feel as if they are posting it to help others, however it is how the consumer interacts with these post that causes the damage on their self-esteem and mental health.

I look forward to reading your paper.

Sam

I definitely agree that it is more the user perception of content and not the intent of the creator to cause harm to their audience.

Thank you for answering all my questions Sam; I have enjoyed our discussion on both my paper and yours.

Hey Sam

Thank you so much for sharing your paper with me- It’s really refreshing to hear this topic from a male perspective!

I loved how you brought up Disney and traditional media as major players in how children develop a sense of body ideals and how these subtly ingrained beliefs can be carried throughout life.
Everyone has heard about the toxic body stereotypes that Disney princesses uphold (such as their unrealistic body proportions) but it’s also important to recognise what the princes represent- usually white, conventionally handsome, athletic body type etc.
Also interesting to note that if a male Disney character doesn’t fit into this brief, e.g is short or overweight, they are likely to not be the romantic prospect in the movie. This can be a damaging message for many young boys.
I also like how you tied this idea of young boys watching role model characters in films into the modern example of teens and men consuming content from fitness influencers on Instagram- great parallel!

Overall, your paper was a great read!
Giorgii

Hi Giorgii,

Thank you for taking the time to read my paper, I really appreciate it.

Yeah thats a really important thing not just for males but for females as well. When a character doesn’t fit into the conventional ideals of what is to be attractive, they are often made to be the villain, which can further damage adolescents mental health.

It’s almost impossible to go through instagram and not see some form of influencer on either our news feed or discover page, they are becoming more and more of an influential figure within our online lives.

I hope you enjoyed my paper and found it insightful.
Sam

Hi Sam, I thoroughly enjoyed this paper as I have never read about males identity and social media. We generally tend to associate social media and influencers to females, just like I have done in my paper. This paper has taught me a lot especially about relating Disney to males’ esteem, as I would otherwise only think about the impact on females. It gave me a new insight on the term influencers- I realised even males can be influenced. However, talking about the need to conform to societal rules, I remembered an influencer I once came across on my explore page and have since been a follower. You might want to check out his page https://www.instagram.com/bopo.boy/ He was once influenced to lose weight but eventually ditched his plan to get abs. This reminds us that along with the negative impact of social media, there are always those influencers that stand out with their will to really help people is accepting themselves.

You might as well check out my paper which is about Instagram promoting self acceptance in young females through influencers and hashtags
https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/10/the-online-community-of-instagram-a-tool-promoting-self-acceptance-in-young-females/

Hi Farheen,

Thanks for taking the time to read my paper.

Im happy that I was able to offer an alternate perspective on the issue. I understand that even though its not as common, it is still a significant societal issues as often males struggle to express their emotions even to people close to them, which leads to even more damaging things.

I looked up that account that you shared to me and I too can see how he asks as a huge inspiration for many people. Him and many other people to strive to present their actual selves online rather than their ideal selves which I think is very beneficial.

Thankyou once again, and I’ve read your paper and left a comment! Super interesting to read.
Sam

hi Sam,
I agree, it’s definitely significant

I’m glad I could add to your knowledge owing to this online conference.
thank YOU for participating

regards,
Farheen

Hi Sam,

Really great read with a great perspective!

Your piece is a great alternate reading in comparison to my paper and I agree with your argument. Although I argued that social media and influencers have positively impacted audiences, it is definitely evident that there are negatives to social media like you have expressed.

I found it interesting how you stated,“image-based social media posts have demonstrably different effects on users’ moods than text-based social media posts;”As this highlights the shift of how ‘visual’ individuals are becoming through platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Through images continuously being shared and engrained within individuals minds, it no doubt has formed false ideologies of perfection and beauty.

I personally believe that platforms alone haven’t created these negative side effects but applications such as Face-tune and Photoshop have also impacted self-esteem. Stemming from the idealistic visions of perfection, individuals have been caught in the past for enhancing muscles, widening eyes, lips, air brushing skin etc… Like magazines do, overall projecting unrealistic body images and creating a vicious circle effect.

Overall, really enjoyed the read and the ideas portrayed 🙂

Hi Jasmyn,

Thanks for reading my paper. I’m glad that you found the alternate perspective interesting and offered you another angle to think about your own paper.

I completely agree with you, social networking sites such as Instagram haven’t caused these issues alone, however they are a big issue that is becoming ever more prevalent.
The rise and popularity of editing apps such as Facetune is something that I haven’t really considered until you mentioned it. And I agree, these are apps that are giving users the ability to change anything they want about themselves with in photos, and could significantly impact their mental health.

Thanks again Jasmyn and you raised a very great point with Facetune.

Hi Sam,
This was a really interesting paper and well written. It was good to read about the impact that social networking sites have on male adolescents and their body issues and confidence. The main focus of this subject is usually centred around young women and girls. I do find it interesting that the push for male body confidence and acceptance isn’t nearly as prominent on social media platforms, as it is for females.
Do you think if this same push happened for males with the support of male influencers and micro celebrities there would be as much of an issue?
The unrealistic expectations found online may have risen from unrealistic expectations that were around before social media was in constant use – perhaps driven from television and movies, however not as prominent and talked about as it is now.
My paper also covers building identities online and from social communities, however focusing on personas built by others about users unknowingly. If you’d like to read my paper, you can find it here: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/11/identity-built-unknowingly-online-ambient-awareness-building-a-users-identity-from-online-social-communities/

Hey Bobbie,

Thanks for reading my paper. I feel that the body confidence movement that is more popular for females would have some benefit in creating a positive message for males who are struggling with body image issues. However, from my research it seemed that males often obsessed over idealised figures more than female counterparts.
From my own experience, no matter how much content I view that promotes loving yourself and not comparing yourself to others, I still constantly find myself comparing not only my body, but my personality to others not just online but also in the physical world.

Do you think that these unrealistic expectations now are being more developed online, or do you think traditional media or the physical world have a bigger influence in peoples perception of beauty?
I’ll definitely give your paper a read.

Sam

Hi Sam,

First of all great paper and well done for taking on a topic many would not consider! I both personally and academically agreed with what you have said about social media being at the forefront of our identities and influencers shaping how we see ourselves.
Although I have to admit I never really thought about the impacts on males, and only really thought about the negative impacts which social media has had on females. So I have found this paper to be very eye-opening. The fact that many males are feeling self conscious and have these unrealistic body images portrayed to them. Do you think some influencers are starting to show a more ‘real’ side and a more imperfect side to themselves on social media? I know that some females do the “no makeup selfie”, has anything like this started from males?
Similarly I wrote my paper on deception and users enhancing their physical appearance for online dating, so feel free to give it a read and let me know what you think. https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/21/online-dating-encouraging-users-to-depict-and-enhance-their-physical-appearance-online/
Regards, Georgina

Hi Georgina,

Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to read my paper!

I’m glad that I’ve been able to open your eyes to an alternative perspective for a very serious issue that both males and females experience every single day.
Thanks for the question. I do feel that there are some influeners who are trying to make a statement to love yourself for you. Similarly to female influencers. Farheen mentioned a male influencer by the name of @bopo.boy who has taken his influence to promote self love. Although it has started, I do feel as if it has a long way to go before making any significant impact on the community. I feel this is due to the male stereotype of being strong, and not letting anything impact them, often resulting in them closing off their emotions to others. This can impact them significantly especially issues such as body image issues.
I hope this answers your question.

I look forward to reading your paper!

Sam

Hi Sam,

I really enjoyed reading your paper!

It really opened my eyes up to topics that I had not considered before. I think that it is so easy with the dominance of social media in the body image discussions to forget traditional media has also played such a vital role in shaping the way to view and judge our own bodies.

I really liked how you touched on body image not being an issue that is confined to any one gender. It affects both males and females and I think that it is important that this gets discussed as men can often be neglected in these types of discussions.

As you spoke about in your paper unrealistic body goals have been around in the media for such a long time it can often feel daunting when we start talking about trying to change this. In your opinion what are the main strategies we can use to counter these unrealistic goals?

Thank you,
Victoria

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.