Dove Reports that Social Media is Crushing Self-Esteem in Women

It’s been reported this week that social media has led to a decrease in self-esteem amongst women. The study conducted by Dove surveyed 1,000 women and over half admitted to feeling unhappy with their own bodies after viewing photos of their friends online.

The poll marked a decade since their campaign for “real beauty” launched and found that since 2004 there has been a rise of 5% in women feeling inadequate with their body.

Some of the women surveyed admitted that they de-tag themselves from photos when they don’t like the way they look in them.

A toxic mix of infinite images across social media, advertising and celebrity magazines are all cited to be contributing factors in why self-esteem amongst women has dropped, with social media playing a bigger part than ever before.

Dove themselves have been under criticism for their campaign for “real beauty”, given that Dove is owned by Unilever, the same company that owns Lynx. Lynx adverts are often chastised for their sexist portrayals of women.

Is this a surprising outcome of a survey such as this? Not really.

A quick search for worrying buzzwords many of us are already familiar with such as “thinspiration” will lead you to some pretty shocking images and profiles. It’s like going down a rabbit hole, you’ll find all kinds of ridiculous hashtags such as #thighgap which is often noted as being a positive look to achieve amongst the pro ana (pro anorexia) community. Instagram banned certain hashtags relating to eating disorders but of course, it’s impossible to fully police this.

The flipside of this is also the notion perpetuated on social media that “real women have curves”. People are faced with images of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor pitched against Keira Knightley and Nicole Ritchie telling us that the Monroe and Taylor images are better than the Knightley and Richie ones.

Between “thinspiration” and “real women have curves”, social media is crushing the self-esteem of many because of the contradictions at play. You have curves? You’re unhealthy. You’re skinny? You’re unhealthy. Whatever your size, somewhere in social media land there will be a quote, a meme or a vine saying you’re inadequate. Endless scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. means it’s only a matter of time before it’s seen and has the potential to leave the person feeling negatively about themselves afterwards.

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