Any photographs of me during this time were developed at a nearby Kodak shop, framed and hung on an actual wall or plastered into a scrapbook that now sits in a drawer somewhere in my mother’s living room.
I grew up well before there were “likes,”“comments” or “followers,” and for this I am thankful.
I am thankful because puberty fell like a curse one summer in the late 90s’ and since that time, I began to live in a world where my body was the subject of ongoing scrutiny.
I was too fat. I was too tall. I needed to eat less. I needed a smaller waistline. I had a flat ass. My breasts were too small. My breasts were too big.
I remember boys purposely bumping into me in the hallways of my junior high school only to say, “you need to watch your weight,” or “you need to wash your face.”
I was once a girl who learned just how cruel boys could be, and I grew into a woman who learned the same thing about men. Yes, me too.
The message I kept getting from my external world was that I was not enough.
It is 2017 and girls all around continue to receive the same old message, except now the world of social media has amplified it and it’s making young girls sick.
Girls are still growing up believing that it is up to everyone else to decide where they fall on the beauty scale, to decide who or what they are and where they are lacking. This too must come to an end if we’re truly interested in building a world where females have complete autonomy over themselves.
In light of the “Me Too” campaign, perhaps we can look at other ways powerful men have taken control of the women’s bodies to fulfill their own interests.
In the consumer societies of the “developed” world there exists amplitude of examples that show how men continue to exercise power over the female form; from beer advertisements to reproductive rights and the mirrors we use to measure ourselves.
It’s not news to those of us who have lived long enough that corporations sell ideas of beauty to sell products, but do enough young women understand this?
Man-made ideas of beauty dominate the social media pages our youths consume to the point of extreme distraction, to the point that few girls these days can simply take a picture for the sake of capturing a moment in time.
Is it any wonder that today the experience of being a girl is riddled with anxiety?
We need to look at all the things that might have a made a young Toronto woman desperate enough to seek a “face filler” procedure in someone’s basement.
Let’s start with the example of reality television star Kylie Jenner, who holds an Instagram audience of a near 1 billion followers.
A couple of years ago she revealed to the public that she had acquired lip fillers to enhance the appearance of her mouth.
In the days that followed, cosmetic surgery clinics saw a spike in requests for lip-filler procedures. One Dr. Leah Totton reported a dramatic rise of 70 per cent over the course of a single day.
The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery stated that 42 per cent of surgeons have said their clients are seeking procedures that will improve their appearance on social media.
Popular apps like Snapchat and Instagram or Twitter have become a part of all our lives long enough for us to study the effects they have on mental health. It is no secret that people use these platforms to compare themselves to others, resulting in feelings of inadequacy and depression.
Instagram alone has been dubbed the worst social media app for young minds.
In the U.K. the Royal Society for Public Health asked 1, 479 youths ages 14 to 24 to evaluatemodern social media apps for their impacts on depression, anxiety, bullying, body image and loneliness.
Snapchat and Instagram had the lowest scores.
We are living in a society where it is so much easier for young girls to follow a trend than it is for them to ask who dictates these trends for them.
It is for this reason that we need to educate our young women about the Harvey Weinsteins of the world,about the men and industries who continue to treat women like property in the name of profit. These are the men with the puppet strings behind the trends.
If we have the data to prove a direct correlation between social media use and higher rates of anxiety and depression, then we have enough reason to institute positive body image in our formal education system.
We need to take educational measures to help young women and girls look outside the selfies and see the bigger picture.
Madalene Arias studies journalism at Humber College.