The emergence of social media and its rapid growth has led to an interest in how society is affected by its existence. The matter of how social media relates to body image among woman has been significant and there is a vast amount of data on its connection. Past studies conducted by Holmstrom (2004), Grabe, Ward, & Hyde (2008) and Halliwell (2013) focused on how the media represents images of the ‘ideal’ woman’s body and how that correlates to a negative body image.
Tiggermann (2011) notes that body image in the western world has been sculpted into a one size fits all notion and that an attractive female body has been categorised into a type that compromises features that are unrealistic and unrepresentative of many women. The ideology of such a concept in society has been formulated by mass media with Dittmar (2009) observing in his paper that mass media is a contributor to how women’s body image is perceived.
Third (2017) state that young people have the highest online social media usage, therefore it is understandable why many studies have also focused towards how the younger generation are affected by social media. Particularly investigation has been into the physiological and vulnerability of the younger age group and how social media can influence individuals who are already unhappy with their body image to develop eating disorders. Kim & Lennon (2007) examines the relationship between media, body image and eating disorders discussing how viewing thin and beautiful models may lead to comparative issues, while Tiggemann & Slater (2013) discuss the internet accessibility factors and time spent on social media platform Facebook viewing content relating to the ideology of thinness.
With the rise of the ‘strong not skinny’ idiom, social media has had a huge over hall in comparison to previous fitness content. With being physically fit the current trend rather than the previous focus on thinness. Recent studies looked at the trend of ‘fitspiration’, describing how hashtags and the ‘fitfam’ has now dominated all media platforms. Tiggemann & Zaccardo (2015) highlight that the positive change in the message may encourage better lifestyle habits but there is still body image negativity due to the same previous unrealistic presentation of body types.
What has been significantly noted is that there is little focus on diversity of fitness representatives, whether that’s body type or quite noticeability age range. The forgotten generation of the over 50s are barely presented in the current fitness market or trends. So how do they identify with today’s age orientated society and does social media influence their perception of what is acceptably fit and what negativity does this present, if any.