Social media is becoming a huge factor in causing self-confidence and body image issues recently, making it a perfect breeding ground for young girls to fall into the trap of what society thinks a “perfect body” should look like. With the usage of Facetune and many other body-altering apps, it is no secret that the media engraves young minds into thinking skinny means beautiful.
People have known for years that celebrities and many influencers alter their photos on Instagram and other social media platforms in order to look slimmer and flawless when that is not the reality. This message is shaping society into thinking unrealistic standards are okay. In effect, this makes people think bigger bodies should not be celebrated or that they are not beautiful since they are not widely celebrated on social media.
Kendra Cherry with Verywellmind explains, “The body positivity movement in its current form began to emerge around 2012, initially focusing on challenging unrealistic feminine beauty standards. As the movement grew in popularity, the original focus on acceptance of weight began to shift toward a message that ‘all bodies are beautiful.’”
The idea of spreading body positivity was originally created to help support the girls that do not fit into the bubble created by unrealistic beauty standards. This movement is now being taken over by big influencers that clearly do live up to the current beauty standards, destroying the message completely. One of the best examples of this happening is with Sienna Mae Gomez, one of TikTok’s new big stars.
Gomez has recently risen to fame as a video of her dancing with her stomach out went viral on TikTok back in August. She has now become the face of body positivity on the app with over 12 million followers as she supposedly makes young girls feel more confident and shows them that there is more than one body type. However, she really has no right to be the spokesperson for celebrating all shapes and sizes when she herself is the ideal body type.
Many have labeled Gomez as a “mid-sized” girl when she is not. The 16-year-old influencer is beautiful and self-confident, but by no means is she a mid-sized girl. This body type is simply defined as “not petite but not plus-sized” according to @Midsizecollective on Instagram. This word has really lost all meaning however since many people are twisting it into something else.
Gomez films videos sticking her stomach out or sitting down to show that bodies look different at different angles. However, by pushing out her stomach, she can make many girls that actually are mid-sized and that can not just easily hide their rolls feel bad about themselves. This then completely reverses the message she is trying to send simply because she is not the right person to be sending this message in the first place.
Audrey Morganman with the Catalyst claims that “Gomez dances, with a smile from ear to ear, to viral songs, confident in her body though it differs from what society has painted as ‘beautiful.’ She jiggles her tummy fat with pride and encourages her followers to join her in normalizing natural human features rather than seeing them as flaws. By doing so, Gomez proves to other teens that every body type is in fact beautiful, no matter the shape and size.”
While Gomez is using her platform in an attempt to display a good message, she is not the right person to do it. She is a clear example of what society has deemed beautiful and normal, and it is very hard for bigger girls to gain a platform as they are constantly flooded with negative comments for doing the same things Sienna is doing. This negativity shows that body positivity only works if you already are the beauty standard.
The best way to promote and spread body positivity is to have the face of the movement be someone that has a body not typically seen or celebrated to show others there is no such thing as a perfect body. Social media is covered with thin and petite girls displaying a message that is not meant for them and silencing those that need it. Many platforms, TikTok specifically, are filled with young and impressionable kids that will listen to whatever they hear and see. Right now, they are seeing a good message go bad.
“Majority of the audience on the platform, especially the younger users, are influenced to an extent, by most young TikTokers who fall under toxic beauty standards,” states Anugraha Emy with ITPlive.
Teaching kids at a young age that all bodies are beautiful and deserving of love would change social media for the better, that is why we need positive role models to demonstrate this idea.
Madelyn Haasken with Studybreaks compiled a list of their top 5 body accepting TikTokers to help others get a good start in the right direction of supporting creators that need it. Giving a bigger platform to these influencers will spread a good message of body positivity by showing there is more than one size.
Social media is filled with people of the same body type when there are so many more out there that need to be loved and seen. The problem with letting skinny girls take over a movement not meant for them needs to stop. While body positivity is for everyone, there is such a small variety in what is shown as bigger bodies are not appreciated and that needs to be changed.