Why we need to scrap the latest online body-shaming trend


JuiceFM (Michael): It’s a big world out there in the online interwebs and to guide us through it, we’re going to be talking to an expert right now! Our guide to the world of social media is Tony from ntegrity. G’day Tony.

Tony Lee: Good morning Michael, good morning Gosha.

JuiceFM (Gosha): Good morning, great to have you on the show. Now, there’ve been a few social media trends of late sweeping the internet and definitely my first gut reaction is “how are teenagers coping with this?!”. So maybe start us off by telling us a little bit about some of the trends you’ve noticed online.

TL: Well that’s true, the internet can be a really bizarre place. The world of social media proves it every day. But in the past years we’ve had terms like “thigh gaps” and “belfies” thrust into awareness as new standards of beauty and it’s becoming a really alarming kind of trend. But the latest body trend meme coming out of Chinese social media site Weibo is known as the iPhone 6 knees challenge, where women are posting photos of their knees together with an iPhone 6 placed on top of them in order to show that their knees are slim enough to be covered by the phone. Now this is a really alarming trend because knees are just bone and cartilage which are pretty much predetermined so it really is a very arbitrary measure of beauty standards and not one that easily can be controlled. But it does follow another alarming trend meme that we also saw out of Weibo which went global where slender women are posting pictures of themselves hiding their waist with an A4 sheet of paper to show how thin they are.

JuiceFM (G): That’s ridiculous.

JuiceFM (M): Tony, you mention Weibo there, which is the Chinese equivalent of – if I understand this right – Twitter? Is that right?

TL: That’s correct. Weibo has been set up as a social media website for Chinese, and a lot of what is posted on Weibo is done and designed as a fun mechanism to sort of engage with other people and it’s not really designed to be malicious, and sometimes I think it does come down to perspective and how we see things.

JuiceFM (M): Do we see a lot of trends jumping across from Chinese social media to Australian social media?

TL: We do see a lot of those trends, China is really just discovering that it’s a citizen of the world and as a result of that the citizens of the world are very interested in what’s happening in China, so they’re discovering their own sort of opportunities in the marketplace and that’s coming to the fore.

JuiceFM (G): Because for me, as a woman, constantly bombarded by the media’s perception of beauty, sometimes getting up in the morning and figuring out what to wear and how to style my hair and what kind of makeup I should be using or if I should even be using makeup and what skincare routine and everything can be overwhelming and then, on top of that, you enter the world of social media and you’ve got, you know, the likes of the Kardashians, your Kylie Jenners, and now even just your anybodies buying into these trends where they’re holding up a piece of paper to see if their waist hides behind it – I’d need a book of Yellow Pages to cover my body, you know what I mean? But I’m OK with that, it doesn’t bother me, I am curvaceous and I’m full figured, but there’s not a lot of women out there who will be that comfortable and who will be like “you know what, I’m round, and I’m fine, I’m great”, you know. So what do you think the implications are for young people who are stumbling upon these trends?

TL: Well it’s important to remind ourselves that a standard A4 piece of paper is 21cm wide…

JuiceFM (G): That’s less than a ruler!

TL: That’s less than a size zero. So it’s an unrealistic expectation. But it’s natural for humans to want to compare themselves with other humans, we are social creatures after all. Our sense of self is at the core of our belief system and our empathy, but to have it shaken up by being presented up with a new picture of what could be considered the new normal speaks directly to our sense of self and sense of belonging. But social media can be a fun place, but it’s sometimes viewed through a rose coloured lens representing the extreme moments of our lives and presenting these as what’s in our periphery every day. And it’s important that with everybody being able to broadcast whatever they like we’re seeing more extreme standards of self image on social media served up to us. So it’s more important to question what we see – is that normal? Because that’s becoming more and more prevalent, the extreme nature of ourselves is becoming more and more prevalent.

JuiceFM (G): Well, if today you are somebody who is dealing with body image issues and maybe you are being bombarded by different trends in social media and comparing yourself to other people’s standards and you want to talk to someone about that, the Juice Care Line number is available for you at any time and all you need to do is call 5528 3555 and you can talk to someone about it and they’ll be able to listen to some of your concerns. Thank you so much Tony for being part of the show and we’ll talk to you next week.

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