Social media is worsening the treatment and view of women
Amanda Bynes, Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears. All of these individuals have been in the headlines at one point or another. They have grown up in the public eye under constant pressure, walking on eggshells with every breath.
And you would think, especially with Britney in mind, that as a society we would have started to recognize this behavior and course-correct ourselves; recognize how paparazzi and over-reporting of young people, especially women, is poisonous.
We have not. Instead, we have simply repackaged this behavior and have changed the target from young Hollywood starlets to modern influencers. I will give you an example.
I was on Instagram the other day and I saw a young influencer receiving backlash and getting made fun of for acting silly in an interview. I was displeased with the amount of criticism she received and I left the comment, “Women really can’t do anything without being criticized. She’s probably just nervous.” And then I posted it and went to do things that matter, like homework.
Wouldn’t you know it, when I returned to my phone there had been several commenters that were not so pleased.
“If a man acted like this it would still be cringe.”
“I’m happy to see you look like an idiot now (laughing emoji) suits well to all toxic feminists.”
It seemed that my original point of, “don’t shit on people for no reason,” fell on deaf ears so I made one attempt to clarify my stance. I was continuously told how stupid I was, how stupid the girl in the video was and that I should just “stfu.”
I bring this to your attention because I don’t think anyone deserves to be treated as subhuman. Influencers, especially influencers of color, are becoming a part of the same vicious cycle that chews people up and spits them out. Furthermore, it’s interesting how I, trying to stand up for a woman, received the backlash that I did.
The media and pop culture will see influencers and every move they make, every word they say, how they say it, what they do or who they date as points of analyzation where they’re torn to shreds.
Still unconvinced? Billie Eilish can’t even change her style for a vogue photoshoot without articles being written. Olivia Rodrigo can’t write about her breakup without people critiquing her topic. What the hell is she supposed to write about, taxes? A mortgage?
That doesn’t mean that influencers should be above critique. What I am saying is if influencers do things that are problematic then, those are worth bringing up. But making fun of someone because they look nervous, laugh in an interview or wear an outfit you didn’t like, doesn’t make the person look bad, it makes you, the commentator look bad.
I believe my generation is going to see a repeat of what happened to Britney and other young stars of the 2000s. Except this time, it’s going to be with young influencers, and it’s going to be worse because of social media and the lack of privacy we give people on the internet and in person.
And while this negative treatment does affect male influencers, it’s worse for women. Go under any TikTok of a girl doing a silly dance with more than 100k views and try to tell me I am off the mark. We all know TikTok has a predator problem.
But it’s not just online behaviors that show us just how little we value our women. The numbers show that too.
According to UN Women, 763 million women have been affected by intimate partner violence — that’s million with an ‘m’. That’s roughly one in three. Twenty-four percent of adolescent girls have experienced intimate partner violence — they are children.
Imagine with me for a second that there was a disease that affected one in three people. The earth would be in chaos, government organizations would be scrambling to find a cure to end the disease, there would be PR campaigns of what you could do to stay safe.
Except in reality, the disease is violence against women. The dehumanization of our women is the only thing I can think of that explains this phenomenon. And nowhere is it more evident how we see women than in film and social media.
One of the reasons I can’t bring myself to get a TikTok is how uncomfortable I am with its subtle sexual nature. Many of the dances are sexual and are danced by young girls in crop tops and short shorts.
We have rebranded feminism to exclusively mean sexual empowerment. But being sexual does not feel empowering to me if you have to be sexual to be successful. If that’s what you want to be, then you should be able to choose to do that.
But I don’t think it’s empowering to see 15 or 16-year-old girls posting videos of themselves doing sexy dances and having grown-ass men commenting on their posts. That’s gross. Is it the girl’s fault that men comment on that? Nope, not at all, but rather the fault of the society we live in.
That doesn’t even touch on what TikTok has done to girls that already struggle with body image and eating disorders. We have known for a while that filters can change your face so that you have different features, often reflecting Western standards of unattainable beauty.
Multiple news sites have written about the disgusting amount of pro-eating disorder content on the app. Everything from days of fasting or eating ice chips to only drinking water. Even still, there are a ton of TikToks on “recovery checks”; eating disorder content is all over the app.
One TikTok user as young as 13 is posting about eating disorder content. And pop culture has been pushing disordered eating on young girls for the better part of the last century.
Judy Garland, who you know from the 1939 movie ‘The Wizard of Oz’ was addicted to amphetamines and barbiturates by the end of the filming as the studio wanted her to stay skinny. Demi Lovato has been very open about their struggles with an eating disorder and drug use. And now we have social media that is able to promote this content.
And the app algorithm encourages it. If you interact with a video about disordered eating, even only once, you’re going to continue to get shown content promoting disordered eating or pertaining to disordered eating.
While this algorithm isn’t inherently bad, the content it can promote can be harmful. The problems shown outside of the app — and social media in particular — have a way of highlighting the issues that young people and young women face.
From mental illness to sexual predators to hate, social media has a way of showing us the ugliest parts of the world we live in a way that makes it undeniable.
So yes, I stand by my opening statement: The world doesn’t care about women and doesn’t value our girls. Women really can’t do anything without being criticized; they can’t be interviewed, they can’t say anything without being told how shitty they are. They can’t be young and free and dress in a way that makes them happy; not without being sexualized anyway.
We are going to see a continuation of a decades-old trend of pushing female influencers to contort to a certain standard of beauty and have their lives scrutinized under a microscope until they crack like glass slides. But with the way social media is designed to break women down, and society’s indifference to the issue, our newest generation of female stars, the influencers, are going to grow up with the damage fame brings one person.