If you’re frequent user of social media you’ll be no stranger to the negative comments and feelings of inadequacy that can come about through using it. A few people I follow have used the platform to expose some of the comments they receive on a daily basis, and the harmful effect it has had on their confidence and self-esteem. This made me think about self-image and just how fragile it really is.
According to Self-perception theory, as proposed by Bem (1972), self-image operates on both an intrinsic and extrinsic level. We learn about our own attitudes, beliefs and emotions through observing our own behaviour and thoughts (intrinsic). These beliefs are then reinforced or challenged by the feedback that we gain from others (extrinsic) – it’s here that the vulnerability arises. Depending upon certain factors such as resilience, confidence and self-esteem will determine the extent to which we allow the feedback of another to challenge the view we have of ourselves.
Self-perception is more like a process as opposed to a fixed state, and so naturally we will encounter individuals throughout our lives who can be detrimental or beneficial to our self-image. The view of ones self is particularly fragile amongst adolescents, as this age group is more vulnerable to the effect of poor self-image and regulating irrational thoughts (O’Keefe & Clark-Pearson, 2011). There is also research to highlight the negative effects of self-image, and they’re pretty serious! For example, a frequent negative self-image amongst adolescents has been linked to symptoms of depression, social anxiety and even suicidal behaviour (Savilahiti et al, 2018; Schreiber , F., & Steil, R. 2013; Sitnik-Warchulska 2016).
Furthermore, there is research that directly links social media to contributing to a negative self-image (Mclean et al., 2015). Social media provides the perfect environment for challenging a persons self-perception. You chose to put yourself out there and so you will inevitably be judged (or even scrutinised) by others, potentially challenging the current view of yourself, leading to mental discrepancy.
It’s obvious from the research that a negative self-image can have detrimental effect on mental health, so whats the solution? To me, I feel it comes down to resilience. It is easier let the views of another tamper with something as fragile as our self image, but first we should consider a few things. Start by questioning the intentions of the person who is giving you their opinion of you. How much do you value their opinion? Nine times out of 10, you won’t know the person nor their intentions, and so in this case ignore their viewpoint. Why should we even consider letting someones view on ourselves be tampered with when we don’t know why they have said this comment in the first place? I’m not saying to disregard everyone’s opinion and views on yourself, but instead give yourself the power to be selective about who’s opinion you let influence your self-image.
Be resilient, believe in yourself and If all else fails…there is no better feeling than cutting out the haters from your life :’)
I could write so much on this, but I wont give you an essay to read this time 😉 If you’d like me to write more posts in this style just let me know! Thank you for reading,
Jazzy B ❤
Bem, Daryl J. “Self-Perception Theory.” In Advances in Experimental Social Psychology. Vol. 6, edited by Leonard Berkowitz. New York: Academic, 1972. Print.
O’Keeffe, G.S., & Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). Clinical report: The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics, 127(4), 800-804. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0054
Savilahti, E.M., Haravuori, H., Rytila-Manninen, M., Lindberg, N., Kettunen, K., & Marttunen, M. (2018). High beck depression inventory 21 scores in adolescents without depression are associated with negative self-image and immature defense style. Psychiatry research, 263, 61-68. Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.02.040Get rights and content
Schreiber, F., Steil, R. (2013). Haunting self-images? The role of negative self-images in adolescnet social anxiety disorder. Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. 44(2), 158-164. Doi:
Sitnik-Warchulska, K. (2016). Self-image and suicidal and violent behaviours of adolescent girls. Healthy Psychology Report, 4(4), 303-314. Doi:
McLean, S.A., Paxton, S.J., Wertheim, E.H. & Masters, J. (2015). Photoshopping the selfie: self photo editing and photo investment are associated with body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 48(8), 1132–1140. Doi: 10.1002/eat.22449 h