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Exposed: Body Image Secrets Online

Is this really what we're comparing ourselves to? Social media talents over on TikTok are exposing the methods used for designing the perfect silhouette online.

CW: This article discusses topics of mental illness and suicide which could be distressing to some readers.

Mental Health Matters

In March 2019, The Mental Health Foundation conducted a new online survey of which 4,505 U.K adults aged 18+ and 1,118 U.K teens aged 13-19 participated, to express their opinions on their body image.

The results highlighted in the adult sector that, 35% felt depressed, 34 % felt down, low or anxious, 20% felt shame, 19% felt disgusted and 13% experienced suicidal thoughts because of their body image.

Interestingly, the results also showed that 21% of adults surveyed reported that images used in advertising caused them to worry about their body image. 22% of adults and a whopping 40% of teens also reported that the images on social media platforms caused them to worry about their body image.

The Mental Health Foundation is calling for change and lists a number of recommendations for The Online Harms White Paper and The Advertising Standards Authority to make positive changes for the future of body image.

As content creators, we spend a lot of time using social media and have also experienced self-comparison to body image portrayed online. Before moving on, we would like to offer a quick poll to find out how our readers think the "perfect" online body image is achieved.

If you could pick one of these answers, how do you think the "perfect" online body image is achieved?

  • 0%By being naturally beautiful

  • 0%Wearing shapewear

  • 0%Using filters

  • 0%Weight loss surgery

You can vote for more than one answer.

Online Body Image: Exposed

A black mobile phone with a females thumb about to press the Tiktok App
Example Image: Photo by cottonbro

Fast forward three years to 2022, we have found more individuals on social media who are actively trying to reduce our insecurities when it comes to body image online.

A fantastic example can be found on the social media platform, Tiktok. 23 year old female Sophie, from New York City, uses the platform to discuss topics of edited body image online, via her TikTok page @residualdata .

Sophie researches video editing software and provides examples of how editing can transform the way a person's body is presented online.

This exposure goes way beyond your average social media filter and enters the realms of editorial software that can, morph a person's physique into the perfect hourglass figure even in a video.

You will be shocked to find out how many influencers and celebrities have been cheating on us with their body image online.

Don't panic, Sophie uses herself as an example and shows followers her own before and after videos, and she doesn't stop there either.

Sophie goes on to analyse videos that promote ideologies of the perfect body image and exposes where the edits can be seen. Clues, such as, warped objects in the image, distorted backgrounds and obvious mistakes that give us the warning signs that an image or video has been edited.

Sophie's videos don't only touch on the influencers you find on social media, but also brings exposure to celebrities such as The Kardashians too. Viewers will be shocked to find out how many influencers and celebrities have been cheating on us with their body image online.

When social media videos are played in real time, if you blink you will miss the edit clue as it is so fine. Don't worry, Sophie slows down the videos and zooms in on the residual data left behind. That's the notable sign that an image has been edited to you and me.

Although this may leave us feeling scammed by the results, watching these videos has been fascinating and we really feel that Sophie is providing a service to social media users globally.

With 98k followers, it's clear to see that TikToker's worldwide are finding this information useful and so could many more.

Final Thoughts - from the writer

Ignore 'Mr Opinionated' over there, getting himself a tan at the local beach, wear what makes you feel good, run into the ocean and make a splash like no one is watching.

As a 34 year old female, living in the United Kingdom as a size 20, who also enjoys to create the odd TikTok, will hold my hands up and say that I have used filters and strategically angled my phone camera in an attempt to make myself look and feel better.

I receive wonderful comments and enjoy the reflection staring back at me, however, I have found that this hit of dopamine can be very short lived. With this in mind, I can see why social media usage has increased in recent years as many of us use social media as a chance to escape our reality and have some fun, but at what cost?

It really is time to open ourselves to the possibility that, our online personas and the confidence we gain on screen are actually a part of us that we hide. Our confidence and characters are bursting to escape into the real world.

Life is way too short to worry about what 'Aunty Critical' has to say at the family gathering this summer, get up on that dance floor and enjoy the present time in your life.

Ignore 'Mr Opinionated' over there too, getting himself a tan at the local beach, wear what makes you feel good, run into the ocean, and make a splash like no one is watching. You can enjoy your life and enjoy social media, but remember, that we are all human.

No one's body is perfect, perfection is in the eye of the beholder, and it is our imperfections that make us unique.

For more on body image and self-worth, why not check out Mindless Magazine Campaigns on 'Fashion + Body Image' where our writers share stories in celebration of self and others.


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