Psychology Chronicles Series #30 : The Complicated Truth About Social Media and Body Dysmorphia

in StemSocial2 months ago (edited)

Does Social Media Contribute to Body Dysmorphic Behavior?

"I am body conscious. I have always been. But as I grow older, I have begun to embrace my body, and I stopped trying to change it. I realised that this is who I am and I guess it's never going to change. However, it's not easy for a chunky girl like me to be proud of my own skin. I wanted to believe that I'm perfect but the world would tell me otherwise. I make sure not to post a photo of my body on social media and if I do, I need to make some adjustments. I would post it privately and sometimes I would keep photos of myself in my gallery.


I'm afraid that I would get ridiculed on how fat I become. How I couldn't fit the body standards. How I'm different. Body shaming comments are what is wrong with our world. A woman like me attempts to be body positive and is still shamed for what I look like. No wonder some women are obsessed with cropping and hiding their bodies. People who shame people for their weight destroy's a woman’s self-confidence. But I am not letting this get me down. I am happy with how I look now and my family constantly tell me I am beautiful. That’s what matters."

Body Shaming And Social Media


I thought social media is a platform by which I hoped to give and receive support from likeminded individuals but unfortunately it quickly became a dangerous place for building my relationship with my body. I soon realized that even the most followed influencers on Instagram not only endured the unhealthy compliments and criticisms, but they also unknowingly contributed to the larger problem of body shaming comments.


In today's fast-connected world, it can be very difficult to escape messages about body image. In various social media networks, people are constantly exposed to images of their peers, celebrities, and social media users from around the globe. Social media platforms like Instagram,Facebook,Snapchat,TikTok and etc. can influence what people buy, what they wear, what workouts they try, and most importantly, how they feel about themselves. Constant exposure to filtered and edited photos in these platforms can lead to toxic pressure to achieve unrealistic body types, which can result in body dysmorphic behaviors.

Social media's influence in the concept of body image has become increasingly dangerous, especially for teenagers who are most vulnerable to suffering from insecurity and depression. At this age, young girls and boys are still dealing with their hormones, deadlines in schoolwork, and other home life distractions. These factors, combined with exposure from the media telling young people that they should be thin, curvy, sexy, brainy, cultured or woke, can be very overwhelming and extremely unhealthy for our mental health.

Pretty much all of us have something that we don’t like about our physical appearance—maybe a crooked smile, having monolid eyes, fat thighs, the list goes on. Most people accept these imperfections and move on with their daily lives, but people who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) become obsessed on that imperfection and think about their real or perceived flaws . These unhealthy and controlling negative thoughts can cause you to waste great amounts of time trying to cover or conceal that so called imperfection. BDD sufferers can't control their negative thoughts and don't believe people who tell them that they look good.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) are very fixated on the way they look. They may believe that an unnoticeable or physical chracteristic is a serious defect. They react to this perceived flaw by doing repetitive behaviours such as mirror checking or comparing their physique with the people around them.

The severity of BDD are different with people. For example, some individuals know their feelings aren’t true, while others are almost delusional in their own belief.

BDD causes severe emotional distress and anxiety. It is not just vanity and is not something a person can just ‘get over’ in a snap of a finger. The obsession can be so extreme that the affected person has trouble functioning at work, school or in varied social environment. Any part of the body can be targeted when a person is suffering from its symptoms.

One and two per cent of the population may have BDD, with men and women equally suffers from its danger. BDD usually starts in the adolescent years, when concern over physical appearance is evident.

Symptoms of Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)

According to DSM V or the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders here are the clinical symptoms of Body Dysmorphic Disorder:

  1. Fixation with one or more perceived imperfections or flaws in physical appearance that are not observable or appear slight to others.
  2. At some point during the course of the disorder, the individual has performed obsessive behaviors (e.g., mirror checking, excessive grooming, skin picking, reassurance seeking) or mental acts (e.g., comparing his or her appearance with that of others) in reaction to the appearance concerns.
  3. The fixation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other areas of functioning.
  4. The preoccupation is not better explained by concerns with body fat or weight in an individual whose symptoms meet diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder.

The media is an unforeseen force that can greatly affect perception of one’s identity.

Social media has become an extension our personal identity. The excessive use of social media are directly responsible for the detachment between mind and body. Posting has become a demoralizing process of filters, quality, theme, hashtags and captions. Our feeds have become an overly-curated platform that seeks approval from others and from strangers by meeting societal standards of self-image.


The internal self-distorted image is scary. Even if corrected, the illness is ruthless and will target the other parts of the body.

Social media platforms may be an outlet for self-expression and societal freedom but for people who suffer from BDD, no amount of outside influence will change the way they perceive themselves when they look in the mirror.

Instagram filters are just trends and will come back or disappear as times change. For a person with BDD, the filter is in their brain. It is difficult to take the edge off the symptoms of BDD. Only an internal change can save their lives.



1.Does Media Induce Individuals with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) To Have Plastic Surgery?
2. How Social Media Contributes to Body Dysmorphic Behavior
3.What Everyone Should Know About Social Media And Body Image
4. How does social media use affect our body image?
5.How social media is increasing a person’s exposure to body shaming and body image

Further Readings:

1.The dark side of Instagram: Predictor model of dysmorphic concerns
2.DSM-5 Changes: Implications for Child Serious Emotional Disturbance




       @sakura1012 is an ambivert, a non-conformist, a clinical psychology graduate student, a proud feminist and a life traveler. She is currently a part time writer- a mental health advocate and a mental health professional. She promotes mental health awareness and psychology related topics through her blogs. Join her as she do the things that she loves by putting her thoughts into words and by raising her voice though her articles.

Welcome to the community and thanks for sharing such educative content. There is no doubt that social media pressure is a thing. Many have ended their own lives abruptly due to social media posts.

Coincidentally, this is the second post I will be reading on body dysmorphia today and both are very educative. You can check @stormz-y blog to see what I mean. On a lighter note, I really do not see imperfection in people's bodies. If you need someone to gas you up, feel free to dm your picture :)

I have also read @stormz-y post about surviving bdd and it was definitely an interesting read! I think that articles surrounding the effects of social media to our mind and body should be given emphasis nowadays.
True all people are wonderful in whatever shapes and sizes. Thanks @gentleshaid! I've always loved this community,so glad I'm here.

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Wow..what a coincidence. So informative, thank you for this. Social media is such a trigger for BDD as people project their most perfect selfs making you think your body is full of flaws. Hardly even open Instagram again cause everyone has a banging body and I know it's not the way life is.

Loved your article by the way! True right? Thats the main reason why I hesitate posting pics on my instagram because people will always have something to say and sometimes it makes me more anxious on my image.