Social Media and Eating Disorders: Unveiling the Impact

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Updated: Apr 30, 2024
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Social Media and Eating Disorders: Unveiling the Impact

This piece investigates the correlation between social media use and the development of eating disorders. It discusses how platforms can perpetuate unrealistic beauty standards and body image issues, contributing to the rise of conditions like anorexia and bulimia. The essay incorporates studies and expert opinions to illustrate the psychological impact of social media on self-esteem and body perception, particularly among adolescents and young adults. It also suggests strategies for healthier social media consumption and promoting body positivity online. PapersOwl showcases more free essays that are examples of Eating Disorder.

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Eating disorders have increased along with the use of social media. Individuals suffering from eating disorders frequently express dissatisfaction with themselves and their identities. They believe that losing weight will help them feel better (Warbrick, 2008). According to the UAMS Department of Pediatrics: Adolescent Medicine, an eating disorder is defined as “a condition in which an individual has an unusual relationship with food and/or consumption of food. This can include restricting food, bingeing, vomiting or otherwise purging after eating, or other ritualistic behavior related to eating, usually for the purpose of losing weight or out of fear of gaining weight.

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” Some common types of eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. These eating disorder pathologies can have detrimental effects on one’s health. The purpose of this paper is to show that social media has influenced the prevalence of eating disorders through cyberbullying, body dysmorphia, and unrealistic body expectations.

First, social media has influenced the prevalence of eating disorders through cyberbullying.

Balderas (2016, May 24) states that “Cyberbullying is the intentional use of digital media to spread false, humiliating, or hostile information about another person.” Harrison (2015, May 1) found that cyberbullying in any form can undermine self-esteem in terms of body shape and weight and promote the development of pathological eating attitudes and behaviors. Additionally, (Harrison, 2015, May 1) noted when exposed to high levels of social cyberbullying, individuals who were not very active on Facebook were more likely to develop disordered eating habits. This is because, through social media, adolescents are susceptible to various people publicly or anonymously commenting negatively on their physical appearance, that is, their body shape and size, and in turn, they resort to multiple dangerous types of eating disorders to develop the “ideal body shape and size” (Balderas, 2016, May 24).

On the other hand, social media has influenced the prevalence of eating disorders through body dysmorphia.

Body dysmorphia is a mental health condition in which the patient sees a slight or insignificant physical flaw that is not even noticed by others (Rizwan et al., 2022, p. 144). On social media, individuals equate themselves to others who have unrealistic or unreachable photographs, which leads to feelings of unhappiness. As a result of this, individuals turn to the trending ‘thinspiration’ and ‘fitspiration’ social media pages without proper dietary knowledge by using starvation, induced vomiting, and much more as speed bumps for disordered eating to fast-track their “perfect body” goal. Although social pressure is undeniable, not everyone is susceptible to it (Jiotsa et al., 2021, p. 2).

Lastly, social media has influenced the prevalence of eating disorders through unrealistic body expectations.

It appears that various persons with eating disorders use social networking sites more to feed their eating disorders than to promote recovery (Cavazos&Rehg et al., 2020). According to Infurna (2021, August 4), women have always had a standard to measure up to throughout the years and for as long as humanity has existed, and social media allows individuals of all ages to be exposed to a wide range of topics, both positive and negative. She goes on to state that social media promotes a specific body type that is deemed ‘attractive’ to the public. As a result of this, individuals are constantly dissatisfied with how their body looks and engage in dangerous and negative activities like surgeries and heavily following media accounts run by persons deemed to have the “ideal body” to obtain “the perfect body.

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Social Media and Eating Disorders: Unveiling the Impact. (2023, Jun 21). Retrieved from