Self-esteem fluctuates between teens, the effects of stereotypes and social media on student self-image can be toxic. The meaning of self-esteem varies for students, while some view it as a means of encouragement, others see it as a main driver of negativity in their lives. The diversity in views speaks to the volume of influence that outside factors have on student’s daily lives and their opinions on their self-image.
For some students, expressing their insecurities about self-image can be a frightening experience, conveying how they feel to others or even to themselves can be challenging. In terms of outside influence, gender roles and stereotypes about whether or not they should even communicate their feelings can also have a role in their self-esteem. For female students, the common ideal in magazines and on social media are females who are fit and wear the current style for makeup or clothing. Similarly female students may find themselves unhappy with their body shape or type believing that they are too thin or too curvy because of what is projected in the media.
“Females are expected to have grace and be conventionally pretty with good grades but not too opinionated and not too outspoken, educated but not too educated. If they aren’t what’s “expected” of them then they’re likely to feel bad about themselves or hold an internal hate for those who are like that,” sophomore, Arianna Carter, states.
For the opposite sex comparative stereotypes can also apply, students may feel the need to fit into a masculine ideal, which can guide students into hiding their thoughts on their self-image. For student fashion stereotypes, males are expected to dress fashionably but to also not overly obsess over their clothing. Based off of social media, male students may be influenced into believing that they need to be extremely fit and have defined abs or a strong jawline. The stereotypes that litter media can create a negative self-image because male students may feel they do not live up to the expectations of influencers. Comparatively students may feel that mentioning these feelings will make them seen as less than by their peers as it violates the quota of showing any emotion self-esteem wise.
“I feel that the male stereotype is seen as athletic male with abs and muscles, and some people may see this and compare themselves and hate themselves because they can’t fit into that stereotype,” sophomore, Patrick Deliz, states.
Living up to stereotypes and not starting the conversation about student self-image can lead to depression and a sense of self-hatred. This toxic mentality can lead teenagers to build a negative ideal of what they think they should be and compare it to who they currently are.
“If you’re being pressured to not convey what you feel, forget all the emotional suppression that was taught to you because it’s unhealthy to keep your emotions inside of you. It leads to anxiety and depression, in my experience,” Carter, states.
Social media, and influencers on these networks can also manipulate student self-esteem. Some students may feel pressured to match their idols on these platforms, and not meeting the criteria of their idols can lead to negative outlook on their image. Students who use social media may alter their personalities to match with their peers or the current trend; this disconnect from their actual personality can lead to a lowered self-esteem because students may feel excluded or that their true personalities have little value.
“You see a different side of people on social media, I feel like they show you a different version of themselves, and social media can lead to a lot of fakeness. The way people act around different types of people can influence their social media posts or tweets or snaps I don’t feel like anyone is genuine on social media,” sophomore, David Jaimes, explains.
Vulnerability is another factor that controls self-esteem, some students are seen as more vulnerable to having swayed self-images. For students, considerably those who are starting to be exposed to social media and social dynamics between teens can find that their image is more subjective to change. This subjectivity can change personal self-esteem and prioritize the values of others above one’s own lowering the general outlook students have on their own image.
“I feel like everyone in their own way is sensitive and vulnerable, which is why it is easy to harm people we don’t know, people as young as 9 years old can be affected,” Deliz states.