Sup guys, Cutiejea here.
Ok, so recently, I had a university assessment task where I had to write an essay about anything based what I've recently learned in university. So what I did what I chose the topic how social media has an impact on young girls. For this project, besides using academic articles, I used a lot (and i mean a lot) of YouTube videos, We the Unicorns articles and I interviewed 2 of my online friends who are Sophie (AmazingDogpie) and Ataska Mercado (The Voice Kids Philippines Contestant).
I got 12/20 for the essay btw! (don't ask).
So I kinda promised to share what I've written but due to privacy and stuff, I'm only allowed to share my interview with Sophie. So underneath is the near edited version of my essay of how social media impacts the mental health of younger girls.
Social Media – The Impacts it creates for Young Girls
Social Media has changed how we communicate, perceive and share ourselves to others online as it has given us the opportunity to connect with different people around the world. Big named people like celebrities uses social media like Twitter to communicate to their followers and through this, it has also given anyone the opportunity to become famous. However, the use of social media for young girls opened up topics such as body image, mental health, and identity as this has evolved on how women were portrayed in the past in traditional media to the digital age where anyone with an Internet connection could be affected and the unclear difference between the online and real life identity.
For the sake of this topic, I also interviewed Sophie Milton (aka: Amazingdogpie), a songwriter with 2 thousand subscribers on YouTube via Twitter to give her viewpoints on the subject.
Throughout history, women were portrayed in media as ‘the perfect housewife’ and how they should be ‘serving their husbands’ and so on. This was accepted as it was the social structure until the 1990’s when women began to fight for their rights. Now in the 21st century, especially in this decade, social media has played a role in our society and a role on the degradation and portrayal of girls and women as the affected age has dropped from married and single women in their 30’s back in the last century to girls as young as 13 or lower. From ads to music videos and celebrities shown offline and online, girls and young women are mostly affected.
Sample ads in the past from Boredpanda.com:
In ‘My Great Big Adventure’ (2015), kids and teenagers were discussing why they use social media. A group of girls said that they enjoy using social media as they know there are people out there viewing their content and have the ability to showcase their lives and brag about it to them while a group of teens talked about how they use social media just to communicate with their distant relatives. Social media has changed on how we communicate with others all over the world and this gave the idea of the world going smaller.
When YouTube star Zoe Sugg posted a selfie with her in pajamas while her underwear is exposed on Snapchat, The Sun (2016) stated that Zoe’s exposing herself to her audience as young as 10 and deemed ‘inappropriate’. This created the #WeStandWithZoe campaign on Twitter (2016) as Zoe commented that it was a disgrace that The Sun reported about her rather than other important things as her post was meant to be innocent. This opened up a discussion of online identity as Zoe just wanted to post something innocent but she’s now categorised as a ‘celebrity’ due to the way she perceived in the online world due to the amount of attention she receives. Sophie said to me that she doesn't see herself as a celebrity but her fans love to praise her in that way and also mentions that she gets targeted for her talent due to the accusation of copying another songwriter. This shows that once you reach a certain level of attention, you start to feel pressure between your real and online identity.
Zoe's selfie (source)
Essena O’Neill is a model with over 250+ subscribers on YouTube and over 700k+ followers in Instagram. In her online video (2015) she explains about how she hated her ‘online persona’ and talks about how her online life is ‘fake’ and she got all caught up on it. Her story has opened up topics on identity, body image and sexism as she mentions when she was 12, she would look up models and how to become one and she would compare herself to them. She didn’t care if it was artificial, she just wanted to be valued and be like them and thought it’s through a large following in social media that she will feel ‘accepted’. All the things she has mentioned equates to exposing herself as ‘the perfect image’ and how people will only follow you if you become the person they want you to become rather than yourself.
(The re-upload of the video)
But even just owning an account can girls still receive hate. Research (Bonanno & Hymel, 2013) shows that 57% affected from cyber bullying were females in the average age of 14.2 years. According to Blackery (2013) she thinks that girls get more criticized than boys online and the worse part is the anonymity factor where people can hide behind the screen and say whatever they want and it’s somewhat true as according to the Daily Mail (2015) girls aged 11 – 13 now feel more under pressure and are more likely to worry.
Fletcher (2013) thinks that the hate comments that females get on the Internet is based on appearance and targeting their self-esteem hence why it’s hard for girls and young women to brush it off. Sophie stated that in real life, she couldn’t talk about her online problems to her peers as she thinks that she will be judged. Stephen & Wilcox (2013) stated that our self-esteem can be enhanced through the use of social media and it can also determine our behavior. This shows that the feedback that young girls can receive can affect their mental health and how it could be pressured and feel less about themselves just through their interactions online and how they want the world to see them.
A resolution for this is that young girls need to be presented with someone who can motivate them to be themselves rather than to be an image of what they want to be as well as the awareness of the existence of online support networks as according to Mehta & Atreja (2015) users communicate with other people who may have experience the same issues and at the same time, being anonymous about it.
Therefore, young girls needs to presented with relatable role models and be supported with people they trust offline and online in order to prevent the stigma affecting their mental health.
So this was my essay (or at least the edited version due to privacy reasons) but this just shows that it is possible to use YouTube for your homework ON A UNIVERSITY LEVEL and somewhat get away with it.
But why did I tackle this topic?
The reason is because it gives a bigger scope on how girls are portrayed online and how it impacts us in some way. You may not see it but there are times when people give the wrong impression on how girls show themselves in media and online as they take their persona in a literal sense rather than something else.
I know because it has happened to me!
Prior to when I was forced to delete my channel, I was told that the way I presented myself as this punk, badass, opinionated person isn't what they want me to be and that I should maintain a certain image of 'innocent', 'sweet' and 'cute'. It was annoying and it hurts as they didn't want me to express myself in a different image which made me feel like myself and more on the image they wanted me to be got me bullied!
Girls are given the pressure to maintain innocent and be a role model to perfection where in reality, it's not like that. We don't want to be this 'figure' of perfect.
But what are your thoughts on my little essay that I wrote for my uni assignment? I hope you like it. But I guess by this point, I will have a comment war where people will start questioning everything.
My name is Cutiejea and this is my Life out of the Camera.
Ps: Here is the reference list
- Sales, Nancy Jo (2016) Social Media and Secret Lives of American Girls, Time Vol. 187(6/7) pg 26 – 26, Retrieved From: http://time.com/americangirls/
- Smyth, Sara (2015, April 20) Toll of social media on girls' mental health: Sexualised images fuelling rise in anxiety among pupils aged 11 to 13, Daily Mail, Retrieved From: http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/docview/1674166886?accountid=36155&rfr_id=info%3Axri%2Fsid%3Aprimo
- Stephen, Andrew & Wilcox, Keith (2013, June 1) Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control, Journal of Consumer Research, DOI: http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.uws.edu.au/10.1086/668794
- Mehta, Neil ; Atreja, Ashish (2015) Online Social Support Networks, International Review of Psychiatry, 2015, Vol.27(2), p.118-123, DOI: 10.3109/09540261.2015.1015504
- Bonanno, R. A., & Hymel, S. (2013). Cyber bullying and internalizing difficulties: Above and beyond the impact of traditional forms of bullying. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42(5), 685-97. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10964-013-9937-1
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- The Australian Broadcasting Company (2015, Mar 10) Self Esteem [TV Show], My Great Big Adventure | Series 2, Episode 8, Australia, Retrieved From: http://www.abc.net.au/abc3/mobile/videoDetail.html?s=4102942-1401826
- The British Broadcasting Company (2016), The Rise of The Superstar Vloggers [TV Documentary], One Click Away, United Kingdom, Retrieved From: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA3LVgIKoFY
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- Zoella’s YouTube channel, Retrieved From: https://www.youtube.com/Zoella
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- Hudson, Charleyy (2016, March 23) Zoella Fights Back Against The Press Trying to SLUT - SHAME Her, Retrieved From: http://www.wetheunicorns.com/news/zoella-pants-calvin-snapchat-selfie/
- Hudson, Charleyy (2016, March 24) Team Internet Made #WeStandWithZoe The Top Twitter Trend, Retrieved From: http://www.wetheunicorns.com/news/westandwithzoe-zoella-snapchat-twitter-selfie/
- The Sun (2016) YouTube star Zoella ditches wholesome image with bedtime Snapchat... of her in her knickers, Retrieved From: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/tv/7019272/YouTube-star-Zoella-ditches-wholesome-image-as-she-Snapchats-bedtime-knicker-pic.html
- Townsend, Benedict (2015, Nov 3) This YouTuber Just Quit Social Media And You NEED To Hear Her Explanation Why, Retrieved From: http://www.wetheunicorns.com/news/this-youtuber-just-quit-social-media-and-you-need-to-hear-her-explanation-why/
- Smosh.com (2015), 'Social Media Is Not Real Life': Teen Instagram Star Explains Why She's Quitting Social Media, Retrieved From: http://www.smosh.com/smosh-pit/articles/social-media-not-real-life-teen-instagram-star-explains-why-shes-quitting-social
- McCluskey, Megan (2016, Jan 1) Instagram Star Essena O’Neill Breaks her Silence on Quitting Social Media, Retrieved From: http://time.com/4167856/essena-oneill-breaks-silence-on-quitting-social-media/
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- The Guardian (2014) The Seven Digital Deadly Sins, Retrieved From: http://sins.nfb.ca/