Essay: Social Media and the Pressure to Conform

Like any teenager, when I’m bored, I check Instagram, go to the search option, and see what the app has to show me. Often there are posts regarding dance, feminism, comedy, and fashion. But sometimes a thread pops up saying things like, “Get the perfect body!” or “How to make him want you!” and “How to be irresistible!” With kids spending so much time on social media, both girls and boys are prone to be molded into social norms from an early age. For instance, a girl has to dress up, act dainty, and be sweet, whereas a guy has to be macho and mysterious.

These days, women play a big role in society. Some of the best-known figures around the world are women who own their own businesses. Despite all of this progress, women are still paid less in workplaces and are expected to conform to gender norms.

For girls, the pressure is mostly appearance-based. You can’t show too much of your stomach, back, or anything without the outfit coming off as “slutty.” You can’t wear as much makeup as you want because if you wear too much, you’re “hiding something.” The need to impress boys has become so woven into the culture of teenage girls today.

An “ideal” man must always be muscular, athletic, and the list goes on. On Instagram, I see some guys posing in front of an ocean, shirt off. Just look at the models of Calvin Klein and Abercrombie and Fitch on billboards and magazine ads.

Following these norms doesn’t make you a bad person. Social media has put these “standards” out, and it’s your choice to follow them or not. But these expectations certainly are hurting today’s society as people receive unwanted attention and comments by the way they appear.

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