Is Social Media Responsible for the Rise in Eating Disorders in 2023?

By: | March 30, 2022 | Tags: , , , , , , |
disadvantages of social media marketing

Are you aware of the many disadvantages of social media marketing?

Disadvantages of social media marketing exist:

  • Organic reach is dead or dying on social media sites.
  • Paid ads are expensive.
  • The competition on social media is fierce.

However, this post examines different disadvantages of social media marketing such as the effect social media marketing has on body image.

In October of 2021, Francis Haugen, a former Facebook employee made these claims against Facebook (now Meta) that controls both Facebook and Instagram:

“The revelations — including that Facebook knew Instagram was worsening body image issues among teenagers and that it had a two-tier justice system — have spurred criticism from lawmakers, regulators and the public” (Source).

Was Haugen right?

Does social media use hurt body images among teens?

Let’s dig deeper to examine the disadvantages of social media marketing from this standpoint.

An individual’s body image is their perception of their physical self and the thoughts, feelings, and emotions tied to this perception, which can be both negative or positive. How you perceive your physical appearance can be influenced by many factors, such as societal norms, comments made by family or friends, and to a large extent, also social media. 

Throughout the western world, there exists a dangerous and harmful myth that being thin equates to being healthy and beautiful, and this myth is heavily perpetuated through media of all kinds, both traditional (with billboards and television) and digital media such as social media platforms.

While social media is not the sole cause of developing eating disorders, many studies have highlighted the undeniable role social media plays in the lives of those susceptible to developing disordered eating behaviors. 

Related Reading: 14 Advantages and Disadvantages of Social Media: What You Need to Know

The Link Between Social Media Use and Eating Disorders

As of January 2021, the UK has an estimated 53 million active social media users, and according to Beat, around 1.25 million people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder. An estimated 77.9% of the UK population has access to social media daily.

While this is not the sole cause for the rise in eating disorders, several links can be drawn between social media use and the development of eating disorders, especially amongst younger individuals. 

Hence, the link between social media use and eating disorders is definitely in existence and can be taken into further consideration.

Related Reading: 50 Legitimate Pros and Cons of Snapchat

The Rise of Social Media Influencers 

disadvantages of social media marketing
Photo by Liza Summer on

One of the largest problems with social media is that information you see shared online is not necessarily true. Without strict credibility standards, social media “influencers” or bloggers with large online followings can pretty much get away with making unproven claims about health and fitness.

This is also supported by how many brands have now turned to social media influencers to promote their products. These influencers contribute to the disadvantages of social media marketing.

For instance, influencers online will “review” such weight loss/diet products without having necessarily tried them themselves, and many will also, knowingly or unconsciously, promote diet products that can have adverse effects on the user’s health. 

The influence of these social media influencers is apparent, as their audience usually believes a large portion of these opinion-based articles that is often in direct contradiction with credible advice from reputable health institutions.

For example, the British Diet Association found that 41% of individuals between the ages of 18-24 would trust fitness advice given by a “healthy eating blogger,” while a survey also indicated that almost 60% of people trust nutritional advice given by unqualified individuals. 

Related Reading: TikTok Marketing Strategies

Unrealistic Beauty Standards and The Need to Fit In 

Weight management content promoted on social media is nearly always flawed and can be highly detrimental to the mental health of consumers, leading to weight issues, eating disorders, chronic stress, negative body image, over-exercising, and depression. Influencers, models, celebrities, and beauty bloggers online promote unrealistic beauty standards that audiences strive (and fail) to live up to.

What seems like the most low-effort “perfect natural Instagram selfie” actually has millions of dollars worth of cosmetic procedures, nutritionists, dietitians, personal trainers, stylists, hours and hours of makeup, and all sorts of work behind it. 

Pictures on social media also play a role in how we seek validation and centralize the way our body looks as our topmost priority in our lives. Striving for likes, comments, and validation on social media sends a message that how we look determines our worth, which is one of the key promoters of negative self-image and eating disorders. 

Social media culture also thrives on the concept of comparison, with millions of everyday individuals like you and I comparing ourselves to celebrities and influencers whose images and lives are heavily controlled and altered and paint an unrealistic picture of how we should look.

For those in recovery from eating disorders, social media can also act as a trigger to relapse or begin engaging in eating-disordered behaviors.

Social media posts celebrating weight loss, promoting diets, workout routines, “before and after images,” and “what I eat in a day vlog” can all be highly triggering and encourage individuals to lose weight by any means possible. 

Related Reading: Pros and Cons of Instagram

Healing And Seeking Help 

It’s important to remember that social media is not all bad. You as a user, have the power to choose the content you see every day.

If you follow any celebrities, fitness influencers, or diet pages that make you feel negative about your body, take the step to unfollow them and filter out any triggering content that adversely affects your mental health. Instead, flood your feed with positive content, follow body positivity pages or individuals that promote recovery and health. 

If you or your loved one struggle with an eating disorder, remember that you are not alone and that recovery is possible. There is no shame in reaching out and getting the professional help you need to live the life of happiness and health you truly deserve. 

Although this post demonstrated the disadvantages of social media marketing include causing a negative effect on body image, social media can be a help as well.

For instance, self-help Reddit groups post anorexia recovery stories. Also, the Huddol social media website offers groups for people struggling with body issues.

Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the disadvantages of social media?

Social media can result in warped body images of teens.

What are the disadvantages of social media marketing?

Social media marketing can result in warped body images of teens. Also, brands hire social media influencers who don’t actually use the products they promote.

Wrapping Up: Disadvantages of Social Media Marketing

In closing, this post showed that the disadvantages of social media marketing include influencers who never tried the product and reveal an unhealthy body type. These cause young people to have a skewed perception of their bodies. This altered view can result in eating disorders like anorexia.

However, this post also showed advantages of social media marketing such as sites like Reddit and Huddol that help people feel better about their body images.

Readers, please share so marketers get wise to the disadvantages of social media marketing.

I look forward to your views in the comments section. Do you know more disadvantages of social media marketing you can suggest to add to the discussion?

Related Reading

Advantages and Disadvantages of Facebook

This post was contributed and made possible by the support of our readers.

  1. Stevie Turner

    Too many air-brushed photos of beautiful bodies. Too much botox, breast implants and plastic surgery. The latter 3 will cause much discomfort in years to come. As yet there is no cure for ageing, and women must accept that.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Stevie,
      Great to hear from you. Thanks for coming by.
      I agree with what you wrote. I even read that Julia Roberts posed for a makeup ad and unbeknownst to her, the photo was doctored to make her look younger to sell makeup. The deception made the news.

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