STUDENT SHOUT: Distorting reality on social media is so dangerous

Kimberly says her friends are burning themselves out - mentally and physically - trying and project a perfect life on social media
Kimberly says her friends are burning themselves out - mentally and physically - trying and project a perfect life on social media

Student shout is a weekly column by college and university students. This week it’s the turn of Kimberly Nhundu, a 17-year-old A-level student  

The way we view ourselves and how others perceive us has been a topic of concern for, well, as long as time. 

But it’s never been as detrimental as it is today.

The digital age has been, and continues to be, extremely successful in romanticising gym culture and extreme dieting.

Don’t get me wrong, looking after yourself and ensuring you are healthy is essential for a long life.

However, the hours on end spent in the gym daily and the meagre amount of calories consumed per day in the desire to look like so-called ‘Instagram models’ is incredibly harmful – not only to our physical health but also our mental well-being.

There are extraordinary increases in eating disorders and self-esteem issues among my generation because of how obsessed we all are with fitting into a smaller size of jeans or attaining a muscular body.

I have witnessed friends burning themselves out and I think it’s time we start reflecting on it.

Social media is filled with millions of pictures of our desired body shape, hair length and even the perfect eyebrow shape, which in hindsight seems ridiculous.

But we internalise these things and are dissatisfied when we look in the mirror.

How do we get over this?

The most important step is understanding beauty does not have a universal definition.

Social media isn’t real life - most pictures are edited in some way. I’m guilty of editing my pictures to fit my aspired aesthetic.

I’m no photoshop expert so I’m limited to merely changing the brightness or contrast, but even that is a breach of reality.

If you want to feel like your best self this summer and the gym is the key to that, then go to the gym.

But remember that indulging in a McDonald’s should not mean you feel overwhelmed with guilt or that you shouldn’t wear a bikini this summer.