Many popular social media sites and apps are visually based, with users sharing photos or videos of their outfits, meals and exercise routines. While this can be harmless, it also exposes young people to content that can encourage disordered eating and unrealistic body images.
Using photo editing apps, such as Facetune, users can alter the way they look, from retouching skin, whitening their teeth and slimming their faces. Some popular users that young people follow, such as influencers, have been accused of editing their photos to make their bodies look thinner.
According to Girl Guides (2020), over a third (34%) of women aged 11-21 won’t post a photo of themselves unless it’s edited. As many people who use editing tricks will pretend their photos are unedited, this creates unrealistic body ‘goals’ for the young people who look up to them.
Some of the content discovered on platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Tumblr are particularly concerning. On these apps, alongside images and videos of unrealistic body shapes, there is also content that glorifies and legitimises disordered eating patterns.