Instagram ‘is harmful’ to women’s mental health

Paige Sanders, Reporter

While on Instagram, women are constantly scrolling through feeds filled with pictures of influencers, celebrities, and other young women, which can negatively affect women’s mental health and body image. Body image is a crucial part of self-reflection, and I think Instagram is leaving women feeling insecure about themselves and their bodies. Photoshop and filters are a significant part of what causes insecurities in women. I think when people, which according to a 2017 Harris Poll is nearly two-thirds of Americans, photoshop their photos or edit their photos before posting, it exacerbates the issue of women developing unrealistic beauty standards.

“It’s really sad to see how Instagram can affect women’s mental health and how it can cause depression and anxiety. I love Instagram, and it’s hard to see such negativity come from an app that is supposed to be fun, but unfortunately it can be full of curated and highly edited photos,” senior Caroline Slate said. 

Furthering the issue of female body dissatisfaction caused by Instagram, I think there is often a comparison between female users and the other women they see on their screen, leading to women to get so caught up in trying to be like other influencers or celebrities that they forget the real world and real people exist outside of social media. 

A 2021 study of 15 to 35-year-olds included in an Insider article said that the more they compared themselves to people they followed on social media, the more dissatisfied they became with their bodies. The researchers also pointed out that, if the subjects were already dissatisfied with their bodies, it could increase the drive to compare themselves to others on social media.

This has been an issue for many years, and it’s only getting worse. Women subconsciously start to believe some of the curated photos they see on their Instagram feeds are what their faces, bodies and lives should look like, even though it is not all reality.

“I don’t really use Instagram that much anymore. I only check it a couple times a day, maybe not even, and it’s sad because Instagram has completely changed and is different from what it used to be when the app first started,” Slate said. 

The biggest thing you can do to improve your mental health and overall mood is to reduce time spent on the app because the less time spent on it, the less drained you will feel from the content you view. You can set a timer in Instagram’s settings for how many minutes you want to spend on the app each day, which can be a useful adjustment. 

Overall, I think it is important for women to be aware of the many ways in which Instagram can impact their well-being, self-esteem, body image and mental health, considering it is clear that Instagram has detrimental effects on each of these. Taking steps each day to reduce any negative emotion regarding Instagram will continue to benefit you.