Am I Pretty Enough: Teens struggle to keep up with expectations on social media

Am I pretty enough
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Does social media usage play up teens' insecurities?

On popular apps like Instagram, users are bombarded with images of women who have what society deems as desirable features, such as full lips, thigh gaps, and slender bodies.

"The pressure that social media does have on people is the reason why so many girls are either starving themselves or taking pills to lose weight," said Karagan Casey, a 15-year-old student. "I've asked for weight loss pills and my mom looks at me like I'm crazy."

If a young girl doesn't resemble the airbrushed women they see on social media, she may begin to feel insecure about her appearance.

"I'm a really self-conscious person as it is," Karagan said. "So, seeing that doesn't help."

That insecurity could grow stronger when the critique comes from a close friend or classmate.

"Girls are the first ones to judge," Karagan said. "So, if you don't look good, it's just not going to go well. I won't go a day without makeup at school. I don't have enough confidence in myself to not wear makeup."

Many teens take part in what are called "rating games," where they post a picture of themselves online and their online friends rate their appearance on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.

Both Karagan and her 17-year-old sister Morgan said they have been the subject of these types of rating games and the results were positive most of the time.

However, Morgan said she has had some negative experiences after being called derogatory names by other girls.

"You're a whore," Morgan said. "Yeah, a slut, and some other things. The people that have said those things about me don't really know me or know what happened. So, I don't think they have any right to be calling me a whore or a slut or whatever."

The need for approval from peers can push some young girls to extremes to get the validation they desire.

That sometimes leads to controversial social media posts, including graphic pictures and videos, which both Karagan and Morgan said they have seen.

The fact that some teens are willing to do that made their mother, Jennifer Casey, concerned.

"Ultimately, when you do something of that magnitude, as we spoke about, it is a cry for help in a way," Jennifer said. "Whether it's she needs a hug, she needs a parent to say I love you. Truly, when I hear something that bad, it makes me sad."

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a 200% increase in suicide rates in 2014 compared to 1999 for girls between the ages of 10 and 14.

The second largest increase reported was in women between the ages of 45 and 64.

Jennifer said insecurities don't only plague young girls.

"It goes on to adults," Jennifer said. "If not, we wouldn't have plastic surgeons, and no-one would have ever invented Photoshop. I think at the end of the day, you have to be okay with or come to terms with you."

That is something both Karagan and Morgan said they have learned.

"I've learned that the skin on me now isn't going to change," Karagan said. "I'm not made to have the perfect body. Some girls have to realize that you're just not made to be a size 0."

When someone is obsessive over their appearance and the features they think are undesirable, it could lead to a mental condition called body dysmorphic disorder.

Information on symptoms, treatment and more can be found here.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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