The purpose of this paper is to carefully delineate with coherent paradigms on the factors nurturing the well-being in young women on a specific social media platform, Instagram. This dominant online bubble works as subterraneous yet crucial platform in enhancing their well-being, which consequently outlines and defines their identity. Web 2.0 made it possible to extend this physical reality which flows to a virtual reality, and so does the notion and development of well-being in the lives of young women. This paper discusses about how an online platform can replace the emotional and materialistic support of young females through social networking and social capital. It will also examine how weak ties assist in providing young women with new world views. Financial security is assured online through the personal and professional branding, which can be built up with little or no capital and time. It helps the women to get out of this patriarchy where they can work, be independent and without fear. Finally, with the support of social networking, young women find a space for themselves where women become the backbone of another woman. Through an analysis of these arguments, it will be revealed how wellbeing is achieved online, and thus, with reciprocity impacting real lives of young women.
Keywords: #womenidentity, #socialcapital, #selfbranding, #womenempowerment, #authenticity
Social networking site is defined as a platform which enables two-way or more than two-way communication between users, to share a connection which enables the visibility of the social network of each encountered user (boyd & Ellison, 2007). Instagram is considered as the novel platform, though it is commonly thought to be used by an audience of 18-29 years old, however, this do not limit the average social media users to exploit Instagram (Larsson, 2017). The prevalence of social media has scaled up to such extend that it is no more a tool but accentuated as a variety of tool. Rozgonjuk et al., (2020), states that more than 45% of the world’s population are very active in social media, where Instagram claims with a maximum record of 1 billion user. Instagram is no more a ‘new’ thing but is now growing as a dynamic business valued “between US$25 billion and US$50 billion” (Caliandro & Graham, 2020). As observed by Tyer (2016), women use Instagram more than men, as it is fluid, in the sense that they feel easily connected with their preferred celebrities and brand, all in a singular platform. Moreover, Huang & Su (2018) found they like to focus on the details and appearances of the photos as compared to men, thus, demonstrating a strong relationship between Instagram and themselves. Evidently, it suggests that this relationship might strongly influence the well-being of these women in real life, as Fahami et al., (2018) shows that nowadays women value their own ‘personal growth’. Therefore, this paper argues that Instagram influences the wellbeing of young women in shaping their identity. Firstly, young women identify strong interest with regards to online social capital on Instagram. Secondly, they seek to establish personal or professional branding, for better opportunities and positive outcomes. Lastly, it is a women empowerment platform, with positive contributions to support other women.
Online social capital in the wellbeing of young women.
The influence of online social capital on Instagram, cultivates the sense of well-being in young women networked selves. Research shows that young women maintain bonding in online, where closeness and attachments from strong relationships are established. Currently, where life seems briskly, this ‘facility’ has reduced the tension of dwelling on relationships, as they are aware that their close ones are connected online. Moreover, the author stretches that online social capital demonstrates emotional support, companionship, and materialistic support for young females (Ali Aksar et al., 2020). Oliver and Cheff (2012), observe, the assurance of knowing that “others will assist them in times of needs” is established and their ‘youth identity’ is maintained. Therefore, platforms such as Instagram, provide an impartial and a strongbox to delve deeper into their identity by connecting with social capital online. O’Donnell (2018) sustains that young female participants prioritize the idea of gaining “likes” by disclosing their identity through composed pictures on Instagram and ‘increasing’ online social capital; followers.
Though there is the common narrative that Facebook is better when it comes to build and maintain relationships because of its multiple functions (Pennington & Hall, 2020), Serafinelli (2017) defeats this argument that Instagram is a ‘real’ social media platform which adheres to its significant meaning of social networking, as people get better social interaction from whom they chose to ‘follow’ and thus sharing the same personal interest inside the Instagram community. During a survey conducted by Shane-Simpson et al., (2018), Instagram is the ‘most trusted’ representation platform for them because of their decision to less ‘self-disclosure’, which is attainable with Instagram privacy settings. Therefore, this links to Instagram as a social-networking platform where women choose who they want to share communications with and who to receive content from Moreover, it has been found that most of the young women construct their identity based on social comparison within their ‘chosen’ social capital network, resulting to positive outcomes such as well-being and higher self-esteem, as they had trouble in establishing their own identity (Sherlock & Wagstaff, 2019).
Relationships based on similar interests and affiliations provide its desired outcomes such as support, emotional and tangible help, but they also limit diversity. Crowell (2004) deduced that in women’s social networks, weak ties form a “bridge” between them and respective outcomes. This can be explained that young women on Instagram make considerate choices such as, career decisions. This is only possible when they make connections with diverse communities, where each helping them to learn new skills, new information and thus they get the audacity to explore themselves online, as they are finding out that they are getting opportunities (Maguire, 2016). Moreover, weak ties provide mental support to young women, especially during an identity crisis. Mueller (2020) explores that young women chose to be with weak-ties, as there is ‘less risk of judgements’ and they openly state a feeling that they could not have said to a close friend (for e.g., stigmas). Hence, social capital satisfies the wellbeing of young women in all grounds possible (versions of themselves).
Express with authenticity in Self-branding.
Instagram gives young women a strong base in authentic personal branding that contributes to their material and personal well-being. Bahtar et al., (2020) explains that young women find it favorable to start a business on Instagram as it is a fast-moving industry. Fransceca et al., (2017) shows that young women use social media to create their own online business with low resources and time to make oneself a brand, so they do not work under an organization. Moreover, the author states that it is the finest way for a young woman to redefine her role in society. According to Liu and Suh (2017), Instagram promotes “self-branding”, which means anyone can become self-employed. This is achieved by authenticity, making self-brands perceived as sources of “proximity and immediacy”, since branding is the representation of the self (Waninger, 2015). With the proliferation of web 2.0, authenticity has become strategic for self-branding. Edited and photoshopped pictures are identifiable by online users and are often cliché. Audiences expect to see raw, ‘authentic’ and ‘detailed’ contents (van Driel & Dumitrica, 2020). Raun and Christensen-Strynø (2021), explain the role of self-branding in Instagram, as the nuance between showcasing the self and the saleable-self. The authors also elaborate that self-branding is ‘complex’, as one must market their identity and qualities, which influence the “feelings and affects, personalities and values”. This means, identity needs to be adopted in “online popularity” whilst procuring “offline respect”, since the construction of the self is an ongoing process (Faleatua, 2018). Though Tarnovskaya (2017) states, disclosure of authenticity can be challenged by opinions of audience, however, Whitmer (2019) perceived this as a form of career advancement, making those owning personal brand to feel famous and claimed.
Nowadays, young women are emerging from the concept of ‘post-feminism’, where they express their ‘masculinity’ and ‘can-do power’, exhibiting as a new form of their identity. Moreover, Edwards and Esposito (2018), instigates that post-feminists view women who are visible online are going one step towards ‘empowerment’. Furthermore, researchers found that young women are more prone to make business in Instagram, during the recent pandemic (Jovic et al., 2020). Niks (2017) explains that it is easy to earn a living in Instagram and making it into a full-time job, especially for young women because of their creativity, enthusiast, and beauty. Sarah Anne Stewart who is a young and determined Instagram entrepreneur submerge from sharing writing skills on Instagram into a personal blog and is titled as an author and writing coach on Instagram (Stahl, 2018). She says that she has now become a stronger woman. Alkhowaiter (2016) demonstrates how the women of Saudi Arabia are emancipating by using Instagram as a form of business and self-expression. They confirm that it is a medium for them to showcase their talents far from the social and community constraint against men, with regards to Saudi Arabian women and liberal thoughts. Faleatua (2018) justifies confidence and empowerment are both paramount in current society, which is often portrayed by young women of Instagram Therefore, it improves the personal well-being and financial support.
Young women’s ideal space.
Instagram is a ‘third place’ where women empower other women, therefore, improving the psychological well-being of young women in real life. According to Eduardo Riquelme et al. (2018), when young women engage within other online women on Instagram, they experience a boost in confidence, courage, and the feeling of ‘showing up’ to the world. They interact by sharing posts, commenting, and viewing posts that can make them experience an ‘aha moment’, as they can relate to them and, empowered. One example could be seen was when Instagram user’s posted photos during the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where online women community were supporting the female players through the hashtags; #SheBelieves, where these communities co-relate and reinforce their identity from those encouraged female players (Pegoraro et al., 2017). From a Post-Marxist point of view, the idea of identity is built through social interactions, where identity formation happens within social interactions, individuals, and language (Delahunty et al., 2013). Moreover, academics found out that self-confidence of an individual resulted on their wellbeing, as the online community are positively making young women to show their ‘true-selves’, that is being authentic, flaws, and photos without applied makeup (O’Donnell, 2018). For instance, Instagram started a trend called the Body Positive; #BoPo, which means expressing and accepting the own physical identity. Young and adult women are not afraid to take pictures of how they are, irrespective of their sizes, shapes, scars, and insecurities. Moreover, it is becoming a growing community as the networked individual is remediating this subject with their own touch through quotes, music, selfies, captions, and images. Hence, this improves the psychological wellbeing of young women (Cohen et al., 2019). Nevertheless, Engeln et al., (2020), predict that when young women are exposed to Instagram, withing minutes they already feel a discontentment with the way they appear. Although, Sherlock and Wagstaff (2019) agreed to the portrayal that Instagram exposes such negative feelings to young women, they themselves counter this argument, that pages and hashtags movements are being created to diminish this feeling in young women. Thus, Instagram caters for the wellbeing of young women and online users in general. Hence, the trend of supporting women continues, through the campaign of #ChallengeAccepted, by tagging women to post their pictures with black and white filters on (Lorenz, 2020). Individuals are posting selfies and tagging 10 other women, to post selfies of themselves to raise awareness about femicide. Consecutively, the hashtag changed into #WomenSupportingWomen. It can be said that through this social activism, women online are becoming a ‘helpline space’ for other women in need. This makes women feeling proud of their identity as a woman (Cohen, 2020).
To conclude, this paper provides evidence that Instagram promotes wellbeing in the lives of young women, as it is often perceived that social media platforms are deteriorating the human state of mind through addiction, social comparison, and making an individual to become unproductive. The approach pertaining to ‘young women’ was realistic, which fits into the contemporary world. These young women are dynamic and are ‘always on the go’. Instagram and other social media platforms now form part of our daily lives and so does for young women. The reason why gender what considered in this paper, was because women are more inclined to the usage of Instagram as compared to men and they are literate in social media platforms, therefore better analyzing its positive impact on their lives. Presently, Instagram has become a variety of things, that is one can afford different type of interactions. Instagram is the pivot in maintaining and building strong ties and keeping up with weak ties. It adheres to the wellbeing of young women because they are caught up with responsibilities every day, hence, the online world is a preferred way to keep up with any relationships. Moreover, as tangible prizes and capital contributes to the wellbeing of young women, Instagram facilitate these outcomes by turning their online presence as a marketable self. Furthermore, Instagram is a great women’s empowerment platform, consisting of motivative and positive inspirations for personal development. This makes the young women to become mentally strong and confident. Therefore, these directly impacts on the person’s wellbeing. In terms of research, it would be preferable to get other reasons on why wellbeing is improved from different articles and web sources. As a society, we need to bring forth more arguments in relation to social media and young female.
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62 thoughts on “Instagram: A virtual platform in ‘crafting’ the well-being of young women.”
Thank you for an interesting paper. It is nice to know that a social media platform like Instagram can inspire young women in a positive way.
When I think of identity and young women I imagine this as a time in their life where they are negotiating their identity. Every teenager transitioning to adulthood would like to uncover who they are, and we notice how some play with their identity before they find their true selves of the self they wish to present. As with any social media platform, other women young and old would perform their own identity in both positive and negative views. How would these opposing views affect these young women?
And if these women are only associated with a network that is strictly positive how do they negotiate their identity considering that they are still influenced both positively and negatively by the offline environment?
I read your paper and learnt a lot from it. I never thought about this factor before. Honestly, as per the researches I made for my paper (Unrealistic Body Image and Facial Appearance on Social Media), Instagram and social media in general, has been a platform which has affected users’ mental and physical health. For instance, the ideal body image portrayal on social media can affect women mentally and physically. It is said that the faction of young women and girls on social media have a tendency to make comparisons with their “close friends and distant peers on social media” in terms of their physical appearances (Tiggeman & Zinoviev, 2019 p. 131). Along with body dissatisfaction, there are these users also show symptoms of eating disorder (Tiggeman & Zinoviev, 2019).
Though, it is empowering women as per your argument, there is also the other side of the coin which shows how, not just women, but users in general are suffering on social media platforms like Instagram.
Let me know what you think of this.
Tiggeman, M. and Zinoviev, K. (2019). The effect of #enhancement-free Instagram
images and hashtags on women’s body image. Body Image, 31, 131-138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bodyim.2019.09.004
And here is another article I found, linking social media to mental health issues:
Hello Vejeta, I hope you are doing well.
Thank you for your response. you are definitely right about the dissatisfaction observed even leading to editing your own appearance in some extent to achier the so called hour-glass body shape. But in recent times, there is a new wave on influencers embracing positivity, this is what I focused on. The paper of Lakshana Tannajee resonates a lot with this in particular, you may go and give it a read, https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2021/2021/04/26/instagram-used-as-a-tool-by-influencers-to-perform-an-authentic-persona-among-users/
The people who embrace things like stretch marks and calling them tiger stripes to empower women; or even new age models for brands with all body types from skinny to curvy and not just the ‘typical model body’ that once was the face of every brand. You make a good point, but I think that this new wave of users are remarkable. Platforms such as Instagram is emerging as a self-discovery platform for women of today (all of us in general). Women are being afforded the opportunity of who they want to be on platforms like Instagram. As a metaphor, it is like you are in high school and still figuring yourself out and you can’t wait to go to college because you get to introduce yourself as the person you want to be and you want to become, it feels liberating and exciting . That is how I interpret the opportunities offered by Instagram for emerging women. I suggest you take a look at this Instagram account, and through her contents, it elevates the mental state of any person scrolling through her profile;
I hope I have been able to give you a clearer insight from my views.
Hi Mageswari! I hope you are doing well!
I had a great time reading your paper. Talking in the format of your paper in general, you have well structured and analyzed all your main points and provided relevant information.
I really liked the fact that you gave an insight of instagram as a platform in general!
The first point you mentioned was about online social capital in the wellbeing of women.
I agree with you that when a young woman will share the same understanding among her network, this will boost up her identity and she will receive less “judgements” from others
But do you think it is enough to “prioritize the idea of gaining “likes” by disclosing their identity”? Do you think that there is now a fading barrier between their online and offline identity?
The second point you talked about is “Express with authenticity in Self-branding”
Good point on this!!!
Check out some examples of instagrammers which I qualify as authentic:
I totally agree with you on this point, and this kind of relates to my paper where I talk about authenticity!
But sometimes, I personally think that influencers use “being authentic” just as a facade. What do you think?
Another point you mentioned is women empowering other women online.
It is true that within this community #womensupportingwomen allowed a lot of voices to be heard and I believe it is a beautiful community!
Overall, I would like to thank you for this amazing paper! Good job!!
Waiting for your response
Dear Lakshana, I am glad that you’ve read my paper, and I appreciate the way you have cut down pieces, and provide me with your personal views and admiration towards my paper. I feel that you could relate to this piece since yours talk about authenticity in the age of soft Instagram.
Considering your first query, I can see that you need some extra justifications upon my claim. According to O’Donnell (2018), the latter stretches the idea that gaining likes, leads to more online social capital. By prioritizing in gaining likes through posting nice pictures, this part means that the ‘likes’ are the individuals (social capital), and nice pictures, are the women’s identity. The online world and the offline world are not the same. The women must present a part of her identity (demonstrated by photos) to feel appreciated and ‘liked’, thus they both link to a pathway of social capital (as they are seen by people, those people will come and talk to them, most often forming connections, which is the social capital).
Prioritizing upon photos and likes, is not the only method to build social capital online, which is a feminist approach. In turn, it is the optimum and common method to create social capital for them. Other are through networks of friends, indirect communications (email, address), hyperlinks, comments on public pages, blogs, and most of Instagram’s mechanism.
Secondly, the fact that I have prioritized on Wellbeing, gives the idea how offline identity construction is blending into a real emotional state of an individual. This definitely shows the unblurring connection of offline and online identity. For instance, during Covid-19, “Self-isolation led people to connect via social media in an open way. We talked about how we were coping with the pandemic, and influencers played into this same lightness” (Delkin University, 2021). This is a great example to illustrate the hybridity of online and offline identity since, by taking our case, during lockdown, we mostly used social media platform to mentally ease each of us from this pandemic, in turn, providing ourselves with mental strength to cope with the real life situation.
As I have mentioned in my case, “With the proliferation of web 2.0, authenticity has become strategic for self-branding”, shows authenticity as a façade online. No one real online, we showcase only a part of our identity online. In relation to online authenticity, it is completely fake, but it is better an actual fake online influencer. Showcasing authenticity online, is making a way for users to feel closer and with reciprocity, they feel valued. That’s why it is a façade, because one is marketing the self for attention and visibility. I have taken a look from your links you’ve shared to me, notice that their authenticity is ‘aesthetic’, the correct themes, the black and beige color coordination (https://www.instagram.com/mbrandphotography/) etc…Thus “Instagram put forth authentic image as being aesthetically pleasing, funny, or interesting” (Ross, 2019).
I hope, I have clarify your queries and do not hesitate to ask me further questions.
Ross, S. (2019). Being real on fake Instagram: Likes, images, and media ideologies of value. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 29(3), 359-374.
I hope you are doing fine!
I really appreciate that you responded to my queries and made things clearer for me
1) Now my idea about social capital is clearer and you really delved inside the analysis of your point
2)Im really happy that you mentioned about hybridity concerning identity and you provided a very relevant example, so good point!
3) I do agree with you concerning aesthetics, but do you think on instagram it is important to have a nice aesthetic feed so as to stay authentic? what do you think?
this was such an interesting paper!
I agree with your arguments about self-branding online. The internet has brought upon us a space where we can explore and create our self-presentation online while being confident to extend it offline.
Pertaining to young women’s identity. i think it has been important on fighting gender roles and creating diversity in the performance of women’s identity. Femininity can be performed with freedom with no set expectations.
On this note, what are your views on growing disdain for women who choose ‘traditional’ roles online? I believe the internet has set itself in this agenda of liberating women to the point where there is a specific way to be liberated. Liberation seems to have standard of its own.
Congratulations on your paper, it was genuinely engaging and thank you for reaching out to mine earlier!
Hi Mageswari Sreepaul,
This was a very enjoyable read! Indeed, social media platforms, and most significantly Instagram, has become very popular on a global level and has outgrow the other mainstream platforms. You did a fantastic job in describing how Instagram and women are now linked, and the use social media platforms to build their identities. However, do you believe that social media platforms set unattainable standards amongst its users, and promotes social comparison at the first place? and also, do you believe that social media may impact the developmental milestones of the younger generation, such as their personality and identity development and thus impairing the formation of social and cultural norms?
Thank you for this read !
Hello Theshandev, I hope you are doing well.
Thank you so much for reading my paper and I truly appreciate your views.
-> First of all, if I can understand from unattainable standards in relation to social comparison, did you mean that online users get easily brainwashed by viewing successful and luxurious type of Instagram feed, and they feel these are unattainable? If it is the case, then I shall proceed by telling you that adults in general do have a knowledge about attainable goals and unattainable goals. For some it might create a feeling of envy and jealousy, and for others it might be an inspiration. Admit that there are some Instagram accounts who creates content because of their pride and narcissistic values, and these are truly apparent. However, there are other instagram accounts that creates contents to uplift people, even if the goals look ‘unattainable’. These are some accounts which I do consider as great mood boards to avoid social comparison, and feel motivated.
-> I believe it all depends on how those younger generations are using social media. With the numerous and apparent negative consequences of social media which have been brought up to the surface by many people, developers, experts and scientists, these people are already showing one of the true of social media (dark side). Therefore, they should make good use of it to see its bright side, just like I have argued in my paper above and how it is impacting the wellbeing of young women. Social media is formed by people, aka. communities, which are different identity. Social and cultural norms do not immerge from social media, It immerges from the beliefs of different individuals. No matter how social media is engraved in our societal system, cultural norms are learned and reinforced from parents, friends, teachers and others while growing up in a society. The influence of social media in the cultural norms, either impair it or it creates space for more discoveries (even from other countries and cultures).
Thank you so much for your comment, I have enjoyed answering your questions.
this an amazing paper which I have really enjoyed reading!
It is a great example of women and social media platform co-existing harmoniously, your paper is beautifully explained and informative.
Hello Jensee :),
I hope you are doing well.
It is indeed a great platform to make most of it for our own benefit.
Thank you so much for your response.
First of all I would like to thank you for this nice and truthful paper. It really assesses the correlation between Instagram and women. The paper also refers to perks and some drawbacks that come with this relationship. Content wise, the arguments were well explained and I personally enjoyed the paragraph about self branding where women have the audacity to step into E-Commerce and grow as a brand. Women all around the world make use of social platforms and inspire each other. However, in the end, despite the disadvantages of social platforms it is the user who decides how they want to use it and it would be harsh to always blame the platform itself. Overall it was a great read and very informative.
Hello Rohan, thank you for reading my paper. From your views, it is clear that you understood major parts of it. It is true we hear a lot about the disadvantages of social media. However, I take it positively and try to learn everything that would favor me. If you do not follow the right accounts and use social media on a mindless purpose, then I guess it will be surely out of your favor. Social media is more than just influencers and people. I believe that it is a platform to learn and unlearn at the same time.
Hello Mageswari, thank you for sharing your paper. It is a great read. I think all you say in the paper is absolutely true, especially the fact that women on instagram tend to support other women in their struggle facing issues. This makes me reflect on my own attitude in sharing my problems with fellow mates, and the tendency that men has less opportunity communicating issues due to peer pressure from other men. I’m curious as to what you think men do to be more successful on the platform given that we are less able to openly share our struggles?
Hello Roosdy, I hope you are doing well.
It is true that men do not have as much of an online presence when contrasted to women. The thing with many of the pages of that support women or even mental health is that it is fundamentally applicable to anyone; sure some are dedicated to a specific demographic for instance women or even more specific women with anxiety. But when it comes your query concerning struggles, this is very open. It would be a one way traffic for the most part as the user your consume the information but also some pages have anonymous links to talk openly about things that might be hard to open ups about. So, in essence, it englobed everyone, though you can find niche communities as well.
Most of the wellness pages you found on Instagram are not just made for women, but it is for everyone also. These are some pages I would recommend for you:
The fact that you noticed there are pages with feminist appropriation related to it, is because it allows women to feel more in their comfort zone, to share and feel empowered.
I hope I have been able to help you and clarify your doubts.
I really enjoyed your paper and i want to emphasize on the aspect of entrepreneurship. Many women made use of the Web 2.0 as a platform to grow their business online. The rise of E-commerce further facilitated transactions online. On my Instagram account I can observe many women engaged in fashion, fitness and food businesses which prove the empowerment of women. However, Instagram is a saturated platform and many good entrepreneurs are overshadowed by popular retailers as they invest more money on Instagram adverts. Do you think that these kind of entrepreneurship can surpass retail outlets?
Thank you for your comment on my paper, hope to hear from you soon
Hello Ignesh, I am glad you read my paper and appreciated it. You have ask an interesting question. In my opinion, it is a No.
I don’t think they can surpass retail outlets due to the sheer amount the later is able to produce but I don’t think that’s the aim either. That’s for sure a very competitive sphere but these small businesses thrive more on the human touch they bring, carefully packed items, supporting local, women empowerment instead of corporate. Moreover they are really a lot on reviews and customers sharing their products. From the factor of attention economy, popular retail outlets request influencers to review their item and share the response on Instagram. There is a win-win over here. They are no match for big corporates but that’s beside the point. The algorithm will find uses that share this sort of interest and will find other people for other kind of interests.
I hope I have been able to answer your question. Thanks for reading my paper again!
I trust that you are fine.
I really enjoy reading your paper. You did a great job of how Instagram and women are connected and try to create their identity on social media but at the same time, if something went wrong and don’t you think that that’s going to have a bad impact on the ladies who are trying to build themselves up.
Let’s take it on ourselves, if someone comments on how we are in a bad way, I’m 100% sure we gonna be affected. Bear in mind that, the comment is on social media!!!
What’s your point on that?
Will it still be “Instagram: A virtual platform in ‘crafting’ the well-being of young women.”?
Hello Tooshtee, I am great and you? I am happy that you were able to read my paper and raised out important queries. But firstly, thank you a lot you have enjoyed reading the paper, and I can sense that you’ve clearly understood my path in this paper.
-> Social media has now become our second life. If not, at some extent we do treat it with a required amount of attention, such as the way we pose photos and anything that we share online basically. You have mentioned a good point about how to react to negative comments, this might create a negative impact for the mental well-being of women. You have rightly mentioned that the comment is seen on a public platform, and since people can see it, people can come and defend the one who has said the negative comment. Social media is now transformed as a sphere of empowerment and justice, and recently I saw something which can relate to your query on how women deal with such inconvenient comment. So on Instagram, a woman negatively commented on the person’s post, the person in turn, posted it on her story and as expected she received a lot of encouraging DMS, to support her. This leads to this famous saying online “Haters gonna hate”. Social media is a democratic platform and a place to freely self-expressed and yet being heard.
I hope this example clarify your doubts on how to react to negative feedbacks.
You have said it all about how social media helps women to boost their self-confidence and feel better. Nowadays we can all see how many of our young ladies are showing their entrepreneurial skills by setting up small businesses and how instagram helps them to do their marketing. I personally believe that this is the most positive point about how insta helps young ladies. However, while some use it for developing their skills and promote their business, others tend to create fake personalities and try to portray what they are not in real life. Then, what happens is that they always live with the fear that their reality is exposed.
Hello Yadhav, thank you so much you took some time out to read my paper. I feel encouraged despite we have a weak-tie relationship, you made it an effort to read and share your views. In regards to your contradictions, these are true, perhaps they use it as a form of escapism of their authentic- self, and they have so much immersed in the game, that it has become the ‘new normal’ for them and it gets even harder to get out of their harsh reality. As you said, they live in fear, as they are aware about their fakeness online and the strong urge of being the ‘perfect’ online. This is typically in the case of online influencers. However, my paper argues about Instagram’s impact on the wellbeing of young contemporary women. Nowadays, many of us are aware about the extent of ‘faking it’online, but needless to say that, not everyone wants to impress or become popular just like the influencers. My paper aims at seeing the bright side of IG, because I believe it can help us to extend our identity in a better way.
Glad you commented!
What a good read! Your paper tackles a very interesting and important topic that should be in light. I really like the flow of information in your paper. Your arguments are clear and well explained using multiple scholarly sources to strengthen all your ideas. I am impressed by the enormous research you have done to write your paper.
I particularly enjoyed your section about expressing authenticity in self-branding. You made a good analysis of this and I agree with you that Instagram is the perfect social media platform that enables women to express themselves in an authentic way while self-branding. It made me think of these two Instagram influencers https://www.instagram.com/lenamahfouf/ and https://www.instagram.com/therealmrskelley/ who even though have gained a lot of popularity that benefited them professionally, continue to stay authentic which I think is the main reason why they are so popular.
I have however a question for you. Do you think that this ‘online authenticity’ is a real authenticity or is it another ideal portrayal of these women that only exist online?
Thank you for your paper. Good Job and Well Done!
I am looking forward to your response.
Hello Camille, I am glad you gave it a read after my request. Thank you very much for your appreciation upon my paper. Honestly, I had a hard time to find accurate scholarly materials to back up my views upon Instagram. I want to give a ‘good’ and positive approach of Instagram, because lets be honest, complaints in our current situation won’t serve us right now right? By projecting my views and how it better our lives, we can learn to use it for our purpose.
> Oh @lenamahfouf, she is great, I love her feed, so aesthetic yet minimalist.
Regardless of how I gave off a convincing appeal from my paper, those views are subjective. I am glad you have pointed out that one line of authenticity and unwoven your thoughts to ask me this particular question of yours.
-> If I am not mistaken, in my essay, I did mention that nowadays online influencers are using authenticity as an online strategy. However, your question raised another viewpoint here (which have various perspectives). If we dig deeper into your query, performance in identity changes everyday, it changes with anyone you interact, it changes with anything you are consuming, it changes when you are with your real friends, it changes when you are with your family members, and changes when you are alone. Even right now, while debating you are projecting one facet of yourself, I would rephrase “You are performing one facet of yourself”. Identities are performed to achieve objectives, humans are highly opportunistic. This draws from a famous sociologist; Erving Goffman who explained how the others (in your case, ‘me’) become your audience, and you have to perform to impress.
Everyday when we encounter people, our bodies serve as a canva of identity performance (from our clothes, hairstyles, posture, body language, shoes, facial expression, movement, the way you talk…) and from those ‘encounter-ment’ everyday, we perform accordingly to create an impression.
In an online world, it is much easier to be aware of our performance, since we have so much control upon our virtual presence. Authentic or not, I do think we craft our digital display online through photos, texts, video etc..
From what I can observed online, being authentic online, is not authentic, it is a performance.
The reasons why we often seek authenticity online towards our favorite influencers, is because we crave a certain kind of proximity from them to ‘us’. You see one having freckles (showing authenticity, for instance), you then say to yourself “Oh I also have these, we are same, we can ‘relate’). Your question makes us reflect a lot about performance and identity. But still, authenticity online is not 100% at all, since we have to bear in mind, influencers online make money from their content, so they can go to any ‘extent’ to please the audience, without being judged. I hope I have been able to answer your question and I would also like to know your views upon your question (a self-reflection).
I am happy to have answered you.
A really interesting article on how instagram helps women. Despite the disadvantages of instagram , it has indeed brought a lot good things especially during the pandemic, a lot women have been indulging themselves into entrepreneurship. This proved to be flourishing in many ways ; mentally, physically and financially. Everything has pros and cons and it is inevitable but what we can do is to focus on the positive for example by supporting all these women starting up their business on instagram instead of focusing on the lifestyle of influencers. It is all about the way one view things. Overall great article! Good job Mageswari!
A really interesting article on how instagram helps women. Despite the disadvantages of instagram , it has indeed brought a lot good things especially during the pandemic, a lot women have been indulging themselves into entrepreneurship. This proved to be flourishing in many ways ; mentally, physically and financially. Everything has pros and cons and it is inevitable but what we can do is to focus on the positive for example by supporting all these women starting up their business on instagram instead of focusing on the lifestyle of influencers. It is all about the way one view things. Overall great article, brought a lot insights !!
Hello Harsha, thank you so much for your response. I am so happy you took some time off and gave it a read. Yes it has both its pros and cons, but I wish to project only the good aspect of it, so that it can make our lives easier. And as per your page on IG, this shows how many people value your work of photography!
So beautifully written, straight to the point with concised evidences to support your thoughts.
Thanks to your contribution through this article, this issue will certainly be dealt with in the near future.
People will definitely take this topic in a more serious way than before after having gone through your article.
My sincere congratulations for your amazing efforts you have put in.
I hope they will be rewarded soon.
Kudos for that, cheers!
Hello Ashi <3, I am so grateful that you took your time off from work and gave it a read.
Thank you so much for your appreciation, I hope this paper gave you an overview on how Instagram fosters the wellbeing for young women, and I hope one day you might want to open up an online business in this platform.
First of all congratulations on this well written and researched paper. I do agree to a certain point with the arguments you made for Instagram as a safe haven for women , but there are instances that have to be accounted for as of masculine toxicity and its influence to women and young girls into portraying a certain image of themselves that is not true in real life onto Instagram that affects mental health as a whole because it is well known that social media life and life out of it are two spheres that do not merge nicely.
As for little to no capital needed into starting a business is true but is it fair when it comes to boosting posts with paid advertisements that biasedly change the algorithm or by fellow self proclaimed influencers who gain followship and paid partnerships into doing not much but selling the visibility they have.
Your research portrays Instagram optimally but i think there are sides to it that were not fully explored.
Hello Samuel, I am glad that you have read my paper! Thank you so much for your opinion.
I have for my part observed an incredible growth in support towards feminism. Numerous pages and trends have helped many young women to open up about their sexual assaults for instance; empowering everyone along the way. This is a very sensitive topic, taboo one could even argue, but seeing a movement forming with people who went through similar events to you; this sense of belonging helped many overcome or at least accept traumatic experiences.
I do agree that toxic masculinity is a big deal indeed and its impact cannot be ignored but this online community has shown countless times how it there when you need it, people now encourage your true self and see acceptance over photoshopped pictures. we should stop demonising social media platform but rather hold accountable its flaws but further its positive impacts.
As for advertising is it a big deal for small businesses and specifically people who are in the market for what you are selling. The algorithm will show you personalised ads, this curated aspect is very convenient to startups or local business who cannot afford big coverage. There are a lot who do exploit this very algorithm but then again there is no perfect system.
So beautifully written, highlighting the main points of the topic.
I hope this issue is dealt with in the near future.
Thank you for your contribution towards this goal of every young women.
Kudos for that, cheers!
Thank you for this piece of work. You have definitely show how Instagram is a great tool for woman. I am personally connected to Instagram as it is a platform which enables me to connect to other people and to get to know things about the reality of the world. It is true that with social media platform just like you mentioned, people are able to inspire others as well with their activity especially.
However, at times on some social media platforms there are some women who tend to make comparison of themselves which in the future can terribly affect them because they will want to be like others which is not healthy at all. Overall, I really liked your paper.
Hello Tiloshna, thank you so much for reading my paper during these busy weeks. Thank you a lot, appreciate it :*
Few of my friends mentioned about social comparisons, however my aim is to really shift the common mindset of women into a positive direction, which are mainly addressed into my paper. Social comparison is an endless cycle, one cannot get rid of that feeling totally, imagine seeing someone who occupies something better than you, that little ‘pinch’ would be present. However, social comparison can be overcome by better focusing on what you do have, on what you are already blessed with. Count your blessings. And I guarantee you those emotions from social comparison will vanish. As soon you encounter these feelings, please take into account of what I am telling you.
[30/04, 18:54] Honeesha
This paper focuses mainly on the development and well-being of young women in two dimensions, namely the : physical world and the virtual platform. Referring to women’s ability to voice out their opinions as well as their determination to become business – holders , Instagram presents itself as a novel social networking site.
The paper paves the way towards the idea that women are being a platform to express themselves, shape their identities and be connected to a world of business. One would view Instagram, as a space for women.
[30/04, 19:04] Honeesha: The ‘Aha moment’ as well as #SheBelieves online expression are both interesting. They, ultimately forge the personalities of women in a fun way!!
Thank you Honeesha for your appreciable comment. You have well understood my paper. Do you find Instagram a tool for you, in relation to your profession?
You are welcome! Well, not only a good professional tool, but Instagram also fosters good family life as well. Long live a long – lasting friendship!!
Hello Honeesha, yes true, but I think you have to do some more research based on professionalism and instagram. It is one of the best tool to make business, and a great way to learn and seek professional-related knowledges and advices because most of the top well known people personally use their account. For instance, as per your profession, you might follow @impact which is a social and impactful content to stay informed in a creative manner.
Thanks for replying.
First off, credit where credit is due, your paper was really interesting and even brought about multiple points I did not even consider regarding what most consider to be a given when it comes to Instagram. Indeed, Instagram is now an integral part of our lives, designed in a way with push notifications for you to spend more time on the platform and to see that there are some real upsides to this depending on the way it is used; props for this. I would also like to point out the growth of mental health pages spreading positivity and self-reflection on a daily basis. It is true that this generation is placed with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and so on. I appreciate the fact that you did not demonise this platform but actually found relevant good points when it comes to its impact on young women. What I think could help further your cause is some statistical evidence pertaining to this paradigm and specifically the relationship between Instagram and well being.
Thank you so much for your comment, much appreciated. Yes it is true we often hear the negatives about Instagram on young adults, we barely consider its benefits in relation to well-being. As a user myself, I am actually glad that this platform in particular, keeps me informed a lot, in the sense that I find great accounts to follow. Instagram had just 90 million users in 2013 went up to nearly 1000 million users by 2018, and 71% of U.S. adults between the ages of 18-29 are using Instagram in 2020. This shows that more and more users want to join Instagram. However, so far, I could not see any statistics justifying the reasons I mentioned in my essay. As a student of psychology, do you think the notion of depression/sadness is still a ‘thing’ these years, (or the common thoughts that suicide is mainly provoked by social media platforms). I also see the rise of ‘spiritual influencers’ also, which from my opinion is now new. What are your views on these? Do you think people nowadays value more of their wellness and mental states in appartenance with SM platforms-Instagram..
Again thanks a lot for your comment, you took out some of your precious time from your busy schedule to read my article. If you don’t mind, please ask your classmates to read my article and comment on it, I would be very thankful.
Good essay structure.
However, the use of Hashtags and movements for the Well being of women is not enough to keep Instagram on the safe side here. Well think of it, You have clearly stated Engeln et al. ‘s article, which talks about young women having an embarrassed experience when exposed to Instagram, within minutes.
To my point of view, until those influencers, having Millions of followers keep the trend going, that is,
1) portraying that fake body gives you more privilege,
2) Posting hot pictures will bring more followers, “just a bunch of online creeps”,
will never help eradicate issues such as body shame or women objectification.
To me, giving a proper instruction to those in the upper tiers, or removing attention from such influencers will bring a decrease to Instagram’s issue and therefore contribute your argument.
Let me know what you think.
Dear Avneesh, I am so happy that you’ve give it a read, and provided me with interesting and enlightened views on Influencers, women objectification and body shame. You have highlighted a very interesting point about the fact how influencers love the idea of getting more followers. However my paper provides an optimistic approach concerning social media and young women. The paper talks about how this significant platform improves the well-being of young women.
1) they keep up with offline relationships and construct their identities with weak-ties
2) they can make money out of instagram (self-branding)
3) they feel motivated due to women’s related positive affirmations (women empowerment)
If you may observed, all those points above, ‘crafts’ the identity of young women in a good way. And also, when I said ‘crafting’, this means that there are rooms for improvement. Thank you very much for this new perspective about influencers and body shaming.
Mageshwari, first of all let me share my appreciation for your tremendous piece of work,which enlightens young women onto how instagram can help them to craft their well being. This paper comes at the right moment.The world is going through one of its toughest time,due to the Covid-19 pandemic.Whilst most people’s lives and work have been negatively affected by the crisis, women’s jobs and livelihood are more vulnerable to the Covid-19 pandemic.Female job loss rates are higher than male job loss.This online platform would be a good support to young females.Through social networking women can find space for themselves and create their own personal branding.On this platform they can easily create their own online business with low resources and time.This will surely contribute in defining their personality and help in their career development.
Women can become backbone for another woman.
Thank you so much for those kind words and appreciation. I am glad that you gave it a read despite knowing how much you multitask in a day. Well, since many things are now moving online, social media now goes beyond its conventional meaning. It has now turned into a platform of making business also and according to the recent statistics, US Marketers spend about 69% of their influencer budgets on Instagram. This shows the proliferation of online business -mostly self-branding.
Thank you so much for your time and effort spent on my reading.
I have read your paper and I must say you have done an amazing job in demonstrating and analyzing how Instagram as a social media platform, plays a pivotal role in empowering and helping young women to negotiate their identities hence promoting their well-being at the same time. Moreover, you have managed to pinpoint interesting supporting arguments in your conference paper which despite I, being an ‘instagrammer’ was not aware of. But despite all the positive impacts Instagram brings on young women, do you think they outweigh the negative consequences they bring as well? As my classmate Ruby mentioned, Instagram fosters anxiety, depression and even bullying. Does Instagram take enough measures to battle these social issues?
Hello Temul, feels great to hear positive comments from you. It is true that Instagram as a whole, can build up negative emotions for its online users. However, if you think well, is Instagram is to be blame or the online community/users of instagram? As a visual platform, I admit that there can be a lot of negative impacts of social comparison and consequences of self-disclosure. But we do find a lot of mental related pages on Instagram that charge up the feelings and mindsets of users. With online democracy, social media platforms in today’s world is no more a mere tool, its a variety of tool (just like i’ve mentionned above), its a voice. If one has wronged with someone else, things are not left unseen or unheard. If you can post (show) what you are eating, then why not an incident or an issue? This is how online activism and advocacy works. As a application itself, Instagram has set up new policies 2021 to protect community from abuse. Instagram do not let one to write foul words. There are also harrassement policies which already prohibit people from repeatedly contacting someone who doesn’t want to hear from them and so forth. Hope I have clear your doubts Temul and thank u for your comment.
I really enjoyed your paper as I am myself a user of Instagram and I can somewhat relate to what you have written. Instagram definitely has its positive and negative. You mentioned about comparison in a positive way as to how woman would compare with each but grasp only the positive bits to adapt it to their identity. However, my views are different in this situation. Using comparison to feel better about oneself is not necessarily a good thing. I mean why comparing to feel good about yourself? If young girls who are vulnerable compare them to wrong personae of Instagram, it could have a negative effect on the mental health of the girl itself. This is pretty subjective in my opinion when it comes to comparison.
Woman make use of Instagram to voice out about themselves and promote body positivism however is something I would completely agree with. Body positivism simply means to feel good in one’s skin. It is about accepting of one’s self. Celebrities making use of the platform to promote this movement could definitely change the beauty standards.
At the end, we’re all beautiful women (and men)!
Good job Mageswari!
Hello Devhuti, thanks for your comment. Much appreciated!
The fact that you’ve mentioned about the social comparison as a subjective view, yes you are right. Some involuntarily gets influenced negatively by uncousciously comparing themselves to others (because other it have better them).
But in my case, as a young women, I use social comparison for my own benefit. When I want to improve, I may compare myself to people roughly similar to me but higher achieving in one trait or another. And for your case, how do you use social comparison for your own benefit?
I must show my utmost appreciation towards your optimistic and pragmatic views on social media and well being as most of the time online platforms do not fail to show its flaws regarding well being andcriticized to have a negative contribution and here you’ve shown its duality by focussing on the bright side.
I personally know some people mostly young women who are victims of a patriarchal society and its gratifying to see how social media is helping them to find their own identity by expressing themselves or even forging their business with help of instagram. Giving voice to the voiceless i must say.
As you are talking about crafting identity virtually i would appreciate to have your opinion on whether the virtual identity of woman corresponds in the real world and does social media really helps them to have a real identity?
Dear Vaybhav, I value the insights and guidance you have provided. Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule to read this paper and shared your thoughts. It is true social media is helping young adults to construct their identity. Personally, I think it no more holds its primary definition, since it is a virtual world, we can make the most of it just like we do in our offline world. Identity construction is an ongoing process, there are no limits, and I believe every day our identity is outlined (more and more). Its the growth of a person.
Virtual reality does corresponds with the real world identity, since identity is fluid, fragmented and performed. We have online interactions, which principally contributes to the formation of our identities. And in the case for ‘real identity’, I don’t think one can acquire a ‘real identity’ in the early 30s (in correspond to young women). You never stop learning, so does the exploration of your identity.
So far, how does social media platforms influenced your identity on personal and professional level?
Waiting for your reply.
I would say that i am still ambiguous about social media and identity development.
Social media created an opportunity to widen the world and make new friends from diverse cultural background all around the globe. It is easier to learn about breaking news on social media because it has unlimited access and flexibility. On the other hand, social media has influenced our culture in negative ways. People can share whatever they want to on social media and some of them might be inappropriate pictures. People has become more conservative about each other’s point of view. People started to argue about each other’s perspective related to political view, religion, social rights and culture. Social media had negative effect on youth. It reduced physical activities. People prefer to sit all day in front of computers and chat. Social media also has influenced youth in negative ways. Kids might be affected and manipulated by some sites in which there is inappropriate information. The ugly part of social media is that there is tons of unnecessary information shared by people and also bullying and harassment on social media has been increased. People can make brutal and negative comments about anything and anyone. Social media has good, bad and ugly impacts on the development of our identity
Hello Vaybhav, thank you so much for your views. 🙂 Yes true, social media has got both sides (good and bad). It is up to the user how he/she will use it to enhance their well-being.
You have done a good piece of work by demonstrating how Instagram is a tool to foster the welfare and prosperity that every woman needs in her life. I agree with the fact that this social media platform can prove to be a place for a woman who needs daily inspirations as well as the support that other women are providing on it. This leads to having a positive state of mind as they feel like they are valued and understood, nowadays it is to be noted that positive feminism is spread all across this platform.
However, while reading the comment section as well, I found that indeed I could understand what Ruby meant to communicate, as I had a say to highlight on this matter too.
I think there is a balance between the positive and negative side of crafting women’s well being as you suggest here. I agree that there are supporting hashtags and pages having the aim are to uplift women but there is still going to be that comparison between women’s lives or bodies. As we all know, women are really self-conscious so for instance, seeing someone living the life they want or having the body goal they want to achieve, might be toxic for them. This can destroy their self-esteem leading to self- rejection and denigration. However, this can also inspire them to be the better version of themselves and motivate them to reach their objectives. So, it is all up to these women and how they choose to perceive what is being delivered to them on this platform. Don’t you think so?
Hello Valentine, I am so happy that you have taken your precious time out for those bombarding works you are into right now 😀
Truly, it feels so nice to hear from you and your point of view on my paper. Yes, I agree to you, those points, they have two sides of the coin, but my aim was to delineate the positive aspect of Instagram on young women, To be honest, my essay reflected my point of view since those topics are subjective enough to be discussed.
Thanks a lot for sharing again 🙂
A very interesting and unconventional view on women and social media. Indeed, I see more and more posts on Insta about women who are encouraging women to accept themselves as they are,physically and also mentally. It’s a pleasure to see how social media is changing and evolving with time in a positive way.
Thank you so much Mahdiyah for your appreciation upon my paper. I hope this will help you for your personal growth in your situated life right now. Again, thank you very much to support my views.
Dear Mageswari !
I hear your voice and the message you’re trying to convey. But despite the relevant arguments that Instagram is crafting the well-being (…) I don’t agree with it. In fact, Instagram has been classified #1 as the worst social network for mental health and wellbeing. While the photo-sharing platform got some points for self-expression and self-identity, they were outweighed by its association with anxiety and depression, as well as bullying and negative body image. Its net impact on young people’s overall health landed it well below Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube—the latter being the only platform reported to have a positive effect on wellbeing. I would have agreed to your arguments, if the communities found on the platform are crafting the welling of young women. Because Instagram itself has no Well-being Team to filter or support their audience compared to other social media platforms that’s why there is a high rate of negative issues attached to it. Do you get my point ?
Awaiting for your response.
Dear Ruby, hope you are doing great and feeling a lot better after publishing your conference paper as well. Thank you for your response, I’m glad you gave your opinion and an honest approach.
If you scrutinize the paper you should have came across with the idea of how the portrayal that instagram exposes negative feelings to young women to further the creation of pages and hashtags and challenges that further caters the well being of the young women. We are living in an ‘rapid’ world where technology keeps on progressing.
Well, insta is still the middle ground between newer generations who do not really fit with facebook but still want a platform to simply share things casually and to address this audience insta is the best at it. And there are several mental health pages on Instagram including psychologist sharing tips about mental health. We like things to be delivered ‘quickly’, we see many creators of mental health pages creating content which targets the youth. And as I have mentioned in the essay, authors like Sherlock and Wagstaff (2017), do agree with the fact that insta/comparison creates that negative feeling for users, but still they agree that there are many hashtags, pages, and challenges that are being done to overcome these feelings for online users.
And for the case of bullying, they do have strict rules according to the latest policies updated quite often, Here is a link u may check https://about.instagram.com/blog/announcements/introducing-new-tools-to-protect-our-community-from-abuse
An interestingly positive take on social media and how it is empowering women one instagram post at a time.
Thank you for your response Shifa. Can u share from your personal experience on how Insta makes u feel empowered?
This is a well written piece of work highlighting the beautiful relationship between women and instagram. I couldn’t agree more, the main points were beautifully explained. However I would like to add that Instagram has its cons as well. For example , one of of it and i think the most severe one is that that a lot of women tend to execute unhealthy comparisions between them and said ( model, friends, celeb, etc) leading to severe depression and anxiety. What is your take on this?
Hello Khemraj, I am so thankful for your nice comments on my paper. I can see that you have enjoyed my reading and hopefully, it might be a great source to use for you later on, to defend the pros of social media platforms. In line with your doubts, if you have taken a close look to my essay, I did mentioned your query as my counter argument in support that authors accept the detrimental truths of social comparison for women, resulting to stress, anxiety and negative sentiments. However, they went on by saying, there is a lot of mental wellness accounts on instagram and one often come across to at least 10 positive posts per day in stories of friends. We truly value wellness. From the recent research of Meier (2018), “comparisons can be motivating, with positive outcomes for well-being”. The expert claimed that Instagram is the platform for inspirations and is like Pinterest. When one follow the content that make him/her happy, this will appear on his/her feed, giving them the sensation of feeling good and calm. Social comparisons mostly come from loosen bonding issues (ending in bad relationships).