California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Comparison Kills Self-Esteem

    Instagram is my favorite social media platform to use. I love posting pictures and “Boomerangs” and seeing other people’s feeds. Though, I do think it has a very negative underlying aspect that some people may not realize. I believe Instagram is thoroughly damaging to how users perceive themselves.

    Instagram  released information earlier this year that out of its 700 million-plus users, those under 25 spend “more than 32 minutes a day on Instagram.” This is a lot of exposure to the lives of other people and the pictures that they choose to post for the public eye to see. The problem with many of these pictures is that they are edited.

    Editing apps are commonly used on pictures before they are officially uploaded to Instagram. Some features of these apps, such as Facetune, Airbrush, YouCam and VCSO Cam, include blur tools, trimming tools, enhancement tools and coloration changes. Some celebrities have even taken the time to post before-and-after photos to show just how extensive a picture editing process can be, and just how much a photo can be changed and altered from reality.

    According to a report done by the Royal Society for Public Health and the Young Health Movement titled #StatusofMind, “Instagram is the most detrimental social media platform to youth and young adult mental health and self-image.” The study was conducted as a survey, with youth and young adult Instagram users as the focus.

    An anonymous source from Ireland interviewed for the #StatusofMind report stated that, “Instagram easily makes girls and women feel as if their bodies aren’t good enough as people add filters and edit their pictures in order for them to look ‘perfect’.”

    Also, according to a study done by the Journal of Research on Adolescence, “media exposure to ultra-thin models depressed females self-evaluations of their physical attractiveness.”

    As a woman, I can personally attest to the possibilities of feeling discouraged about my own self-image because of what I have seen on Instagram. Just by scrolling through the explore section on the app for two minutes, I see a variety of pictures that come off as seemingly flawless, with women posing to show off their best features and qualities. A majority of the women featured on this section are skinny, have long, flowy hair and bright, white teeth.

    As stated in an article written for the Journal of Research on Adolescence, “studies suggest that comparison processes may be triggered automatically for women as soon as attractive media models are seen.”

    I often have to remind myself of two main things. The first is that many of these pictures took a while to come to the final product, and the second is that comparison, while natural, is not a healthy action — especially on social media.

    The effects  are not solely exclusive to women. Tracy S. Bennett. who has a doctorate in clinical phychology and adjunct faculty member at California State University Channel Islands and CEO/founder of

    According to Bennett, male Instagram users often feel pressure that their bodies are not fit enough because many of the featured men on the app have six packs and large muscles. Thus, comparison is a problem for males as well.

    “I believe that Instagram can change the way we view ourselves in this world,” Bennett said. “We are exposed to hundreds of images a day, and we naturally compare ourselves to the other people that we see, which can make us feel like we can never fully measure up to the standard.”

    I have seen friends’ lives change because of how their self-image has changed due to Instagram posts. Unfortunately, most of these changes are negative, which apparently are not uncommon.

    “I have personally seen eating and body disorder, depression and anxiety skyrocket as a result of social media platforms such as Instagram,” Bennett said.

    I feel that the most feasible way to combat this issue is to limit exposure. By simply limiting the amount of time one mindlessly scrolls through Instagram, one can limit the seemingly perfect content they see  and remember. This is something that I have tried and has helped me tremendously.

    Krystal Rhaburn