I was in high school during the early stages of social media. Picture MySpace in its prime and when you had to lie that you were in college to get a Facebook account. During Sophomore and Junior year, I was bullied. Sent hateful and cruel anonymous messages all because I chose to date one guy over another. Those two years made me very cautious about what I put online and how I portrayed via my social media accounts, even over a decade later.
In this day and age, I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a teenager putting yourself out there on social media. All of us are vulnerable like never before. Every post is instantly analyzed by peers. Social media has hyper-sensitized how we compare ourselves to others and has detrimental effects on our self-esteem. Take a look at some of these alarming stats:
- By age 12, 80% of teens have at least one social media account.
- 51% of women between the ages of 18 and 24 said they feel pressure to look perfect on social media.
- 60% of women from all age groups said they wouldn’t post a photo of themselves on social media unless they loved the way they looked.
In my opinion, it is a toxic culture, and we as parents need to find a way to break the cycle.
Two Real-Life Examples
Let me share with you moments I’ve observed recently that made me sick to my stomach:
Number One: I was sitting next to two young mothers I know, who were looking at a peer’s Facebook page. “She has such big thighs, it’s almost unbelievable,” one of them said. The other agreed that it was gross.
OKAY. Number one, both these women have young daughters. Young girls who look up to them to know how to behave and what’s right. Their need to criticize another woman’s thighs is not only teaching them that it’s okay to body shame others, but also that if you don’t look a certain way, that means you are worth less than others.
Number Two: My husband and I went to see Wicked on Broadway recently and were seated in front of a few chatty teenage girls with a mother chaperone. As they were snapchatting their experience (didn’t happen if it wasn’t on social, right?) they came across a peer’s post and instantly starting ripping it apart. “Ew, oh my god, I can’t believe she would post that. She looks absolutely disgusting. She should just stop trying. Mom look at how gross she is!” Want to know what the mother said? She said, “Seriously though, why is she trying so hard? She looks so bad.”
THIS ONE REALLY IRKS ME, because the mother validated their statements and made it okay to talk about another person that way. This mother perpetuated these behaviors that make so many young girls feel likey are less than or will never be accepted by their peers unless they look a certain way.
This. All. Needs. To. Stop.
My Challenge for Parents
Here’s my challenge in all of this.
Let’s raise our kids differently and break this unnecessary cycle of toxicity. Instead of making negative comments about someone’s appearance, let’s teach our children how to complement one another and raise each other up.
It’s true, this toxic culture has been ingrained within us for so long it may be hard to instantly change, but it is doable! All it takes is conquering one moment at a time.
Let’s raise kind humans.