College students are faced with stressful situations everyday. These stressful situations
are a variety of things from exams, assignments, loans, and trying to maintain a certain body
image. Of course, no one wants to go off to college and be told that they have gained weight and
is now part of the freshmen fifteen club. But, the pressure to “look good” and like the girls on
television, magazines, and music videos are increasing each year. This has a lot to do with social
media and how it influences college students body image. Body image is how you see your self,
particularly to appearance and attractiveness. How you see yourself can have an effect on your
relationships, self-esteem, and how you see your peers. Body image is sometimes referred as a
disorder. It can cause dysfunctional relationships between two people because of body image
When studying how social media has a strong influence on college students body images
the researches focus a lot on social communication and intrapersonal communication. These
researches focus on what is seen around these students in school, on the internet, and on
television (Van Vondersen, K. E., &Kinnal, W., 2012). Also how body image relates to how we
communicate both verbally and nonverbally with other (All about Nonverbal Communication:
Body Image and Social Communication.). A study has been done by researchers that a person
who is suffering with body image issues will avoid social approach and interaction. I am a
college student who will admit that the women I see on social media does influence the way I see
myself. But, not like other college students I will not go to the extreme to look like these women
I admire. Social media influence college students body images would be a good topic because it
is a serious issue that is increasing each year and it has an effect on how we communicate with
others. To back up my topic I have looked at several different scholarly articles to help back up
In order for me to prove to you why should you care I think its important for me to first
explain something about this topic. Body image issues is not something that has just happened
over night. Unfortunately, social media has had an influence on how people see their selves for
years. I do not know how this issue can be solved or if it will every be solved, but I do know that
is has something to do with communication. It is associated with communication because how
we see ourselves effects our attitude and how we treat or communicate with others.
Therefore, in order to care about this topic, you first have to be able to understand what is
going on. Many people don’t understand not only the amount of pressure college students are
under but how much the things they are exposed to influence their life. One of the first studies I
read on this topic was done by a group of researchers. In this study conducted by researchers it
examined not only body images of college students but also how these same college students are
receiving cosmetic surgery in order to try and boost their self-esteem. It was mentioned how the
girls get the idea of “beauty” from television, women health magazines, and advertising. The
current ideal woman is one that is consider thin, big breasted and toned. The number one
cosmetic surgery that is being performed on college students is breast implants. In the study it
was proven that out of the 559 women surveyed that thirty of them have received cosmetic
surgery, two thirds of them know someone who has received cosmetic surgery, and one third
they have family members that have undergone surgery (Sarwer, D. B., Cash, T. F., Magee, L.,
Williams, E. F., Thompson, J. K., Roehrig, M., . . . Romanofski, M.,2005). It was also proven in
this study that the reason why these women are investing in their physical appearance is because
of mass media images of beauty predictions (Sarwer, D. B., Cash, T. F., Magee, L., Williams, E.
F., Thompson, J. K., Roehrig, M., . . . Romanofski, M.,2005).
Another study that was conducted to support this topic how social media influence
college students was done by Kristen E. Van Vondersen and William Kinnally. In their study
they found that women who are heavy television viewers are the ones who develop the attitude
that thinness is socially desirable, experience greater body dissatisfaction, and engage in
cosmetic surgery in attempt to measure up to what they think the standards are they have
observed (Van Vondersen, K. E., &Kinnal, W.,2012). In their study they also found that these
same women are the people behaviors tend to change with their peers and family. Not only did
they find out that social media can affect these same women ideal of being thin is desirable, but
also, peers and family can help influence this too. One interesting fact that was brought up in this
study is how the women look at their body as a measuring stick of social value. They see from
the things around them that attractive and thin people are the happiest, so they think in order to behappy they must be like the people they see.
In another research conducted by Duane A. Hargreaves and Marika Tiggemann it
discussed how men have their own ideas and terminology regarding their body image. It was
founded out in their research study that men are considered their physical appearance to be more
important than they would like to admit. It was also brought up that they don’t mention their
physical appearance to others because it is feminine or a gay issue (Hargreaves, D. A., &
Tiggemann, M.,2004). But, in this study the researchers tried to compare how the mass media
influence the men vs how they influence the women. It was shown that a greater percent of
concern for their body came from the women.
But of course, we have to tie all of these finding back to communication. In each scholarlyarticle I read and study that was conducted by different researchers they included a list ofbehaviors that was observed by these women. It was mentioned that these people smile rarely orvery small, they do not show any confidence, over expose what they feel is their best asset, try toseek affirmation from others on their appearance, surround their selves with others who also
suffer with body issues, frequently looking into the mirrors and many more things. All of theses
behaviors have to do with communication rather it is nonverbal, verbal, or intrapersonal
communication. With that being said, that’s why I think this is a good communication topic to
study. Their body issues that are influenced by social media but also peers and family effect how
their communication process and behaviors.
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