Social Media and

Beauty Obsession



media fuel (2) perfection
flabby judge (2) abundant
reward mutual comparison
tend buy into pressure (2)
fit in strength attractive
athlete respond phenomenon
pay off settle (3) pay attention
cult satisfied inadequate
mold fall short inspiration
fitness achieve encourage
ideal insecure destructive
forbid order (3) compulsive
choice anorexia subconscious
escape consume aesthetics
desire sediment fall out (3)
inspire freezing charming
suffer intense influence
limit floor (3) out of reach
advent tone (2) motivated
teem ironclad discipline
follow boom (2) temptation
stuck nutrition associated with
heel survival attainable
adapt plus-size deficit (2)
mood pleasure impressive
skinny degrade objectification
admire evolution perpetuate
rat race amplify monitor (2)
pride show off competition
trace aversion permanency
envy infinity in advance


Video (First 2:30, 4, 6 or 10 min)




Most women are dissatisfied with their bodies.

This is nothing new. But young women have come more and more insecure since the advent of social media. Something is always too big, too small, too thin. Too fat, too little, too short, too long, or too much (nose too big. Bust too small. Legs too short. Flabby).

On Instagram and platforms like it, those who are judged to be the most beautiful are rewarded with the most likes, emojis and clicks. Hours spent on mobile phones fuel mutual comparisons and evaluations.

Young women tend to focus a lot on what they are not or do not have. And they feel inadequate.

Helmut Leder, Aesthetician: “We cannot escape the power of images.”

Bettina Zehetner, Philosopher: “Of course, it’s causing insecurity — especially among women and young girls. It effects men too. But I think with all these pictures, social media is causing people to feel more insecure.”

Nicole, 22, Student: “In our society, you can only be too think or too fat: you can never fit in.”

Young Woman, Punk: “I feel beautiful the way I am now. I feel comfortable, charming and attractive.”

Eva, 23, Bikini Athlete: “Being a woman isn’t easy.”

Harriet Vrana, Psychotherapist: “Pressure on women is also higher because the female body has been central to the formation of women’s identity for centuries.

Paula-Irene Villa, Sociologist: “It’s not a completely new phenomenon, of course. But social media has certainly amplified the issue.

Helmut Leder, Aesthetician: “We are dealing with young people who are aren’t fully settled in their identity yet. These things have a particularly strong effect on them. I think we’re facing a real problem. There is no simple solution.”

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Never Enough!

The Cult of the Body in Social Media

Nicole, 22, Student: “I haven’t always felt comfortable in my body, but I’ve always been very interested in fashion. I used to pay a lot of attention to the media.

And I bought into its idea of beauty; my body just never fit into that mold.

Paula-Irene Villa, Sociologist: “When real people compare themselves with these norms, most of them fall short, and think they’re not beautiful enough or not thin enough or not toned enough. Or not this enough or that enough.”

Nicole, 22, Student: “Because the whole social media hype started on platforms like Instagram, people started thinking that not only supermodels look that way, but normal girls too.

I used Instagram for Thinspo. That’s the inspiration. I looked at a lot of photos of extremely slim models. There’s even a hashtag: #thinspo. It’s all about very skinny people posting pictures of themselves, to encourage others to lose even more weight, to work out even more, and to eat even less.

I’d wake up in the morning, and the first thing I do was look at pictures of thin models on Instagram. But they weren’t just models. They were also normal girls— just normal girls with anorexia.”

Bettina Zehetner, Philosopher: “That is a suit of perfection. To fit an ideal image can be be destructive. Then my behavior becomes compulsive. I feel forced to make myself prettier to improve myself.

Many speak of an inner voice — some even call it a dictator who forbids them from doing things. It’s no longer a choice, but an order to follow.”

Ulli Weish, Media Reseacher: “Many young people respond to that with depression. Their subconscious is fed with all these messages. And that settles in their thoughts, like a sediment of sadness because they can’t achieve what they desire.”

Nicole, 22, Student: “Once I spent the night on the bathroom floor because it had floor heating and I was freezing. I had no strength left. My hair was falling out.

That has nothing to do with beauty, of feeling good. You don’t feel good just because you’re really skinny. Your entire quality of life suffers from being that thin.

I wouldn’t eat anything for months. Only when I felt dizzy. That’s when I realized, I couldn’t do this anymore. Something had to change. I had to go to therapy.”

Harriet Vrana, Psychotherapist: “Any attempts to conform to beauty ideals are bound to fail. When I work with my patients, I tell them that if my image of myself isn’t correct, then I don’t need to change myself to fit that image. I need to adapt my image to fit my personality.

These girls are trying to fit their self-image and if that doesn’t work, it’s because that image is too far removed from reality.”

Nicole, 22, Student: “I started following body-positive influencers on social media instead, and deleted a lot of super waves from my Instagram feed.

Harriet Vrana, Psychotherapist: “Female role-models are very important, especially for young girls. The question is, ‘Which ones do I choose? Do I choose people who are beautiful and successful like Beyonce or Madonna?

They might seem out of reach.

Or do I choose role-models who are closer to me, who are more attainable, and who can inspire me to realize more of who I really am?

Nicole, 22, Student: “Now Instagram helps me feel more comfortable with myself. Now I follow a lot of people who have the same body type as I do, or are plus-size.

It helps to see their photos and see how pretty they are and to know they have a similar build as mine and are still attractive. Then I look in the mirror and feel beautiful again.”

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Strong is the new skinny. Fitness is booming, and no longer just for men. The internet is teeming with female fitness models who encourage other women to reach peak results.

All it takes, they say, is control and ironclad discipline.

Helmut Leder, Aesthetician: “Most people are doing pretty well. That means storing fat for harder times isn’t considered attractive. And that’s where this beauty standard comes from.

For most people, being skinny isn’t their natural state, but the product of hard work, especially given the temptation of our modern, abundant society where we can consume calories as often as we like.

Staying slim is associated with effort and stress, which makes it more of a status symbol.”

Eva, 23, Bikini Athlete: “My day-to-day life as a bikini athlete includes a lot of training, of course. I work out almost every day.

More important though, is getting the right nutrition in between. That means I always have to plan my meals. I can’t just go somewhere for a day without having cooked in advance.

So if I know I’m going to be out the next day, I have to buy and prepare everything the evening before. And in addition, I still have a lot to do o social media. And I also make my YouTube videos myself.

I was never that skinny. Look at that!”

Paula-Irene Villa, Sociologist: “Nowadays, many people think that being thin is really important. I doubt that. I think fitness has become the guiding principal for a good body, especially for young women, because fitness is an ideal, a norm that goes far beyond physical exercise.

There’s fit for fun, fit for work, fit for life, fit for sex — fit for everything. And that actually has a strong relation to the theory of evolution: “Survival of the fittest,” which feeds back into the concept of competition and success.”

Eva, 23, Bikini Athlete: “I have some competitions coming up. And that means I’m on a diet. I have to eat less calories than I burn, and well I eat really healthily.

At first, you’re really motivated, and you still have a lot of calories and with time, your calories drop as your body adapts and things become more and more difficult.

It’s hard for women to maintain a low body fat percentage. Toward the end it gets really tough: my deficit is at its lowest and I can’t eat a lot.

Of course I get very hungry at times, and that affects my mood.”

Eva, 23, Bikini Athlete: “Today is Monday, and I’ve got six days left. I’m feeling really down today. I’m so mad, and I don’t even know why. I feel like crying, and I don’t know why. I’ve somehow managed to force myself through my leg training and I did my cardio workout.

I’m not even hungry. That’s how angry I am. But I’m going to eat a little now anyway, because I still have to take in a fair bit of protein.”

Harriet Vrana, Psychotherapist: “I’d say this kind of aversion to pleasure is due to an intense body cult. It’s our minds’ response to our bodies’ objectification.

When we start seeing our bodies as little more than objects, things that we have no loving relation to or degrade them to tools to perform better, to be better, to be special, to be admired. Then we are ultimately separating ourselves from our emotions.”

Eva, 23, Bikini Athlete: “My motivation is to keep getting better. I don’t compare myself to others. I just want to improve myself.

Paula-Irene Villa, Sociologist: “In a way, there’s no upper limit to fitness. You can always get fitter. And that logic can perpetuate itself into infinity.

Eva, 23, Bikini Athlete: “All the work I do on my body pays off.”

Harriet Vrana, Psychotherapist: “I think there was a time when natural beauty was more desirable, but it seems like we departed from that a long time ago. These days, we prefer to acknowledge people who have invested a lot of work. Maybe even had an operation or have stuck to a strict diet and exercised a lot. We have monitored and measured and worked hard on themselves.

Eva, 23, Bikini Athlete: “For me, it’s all about pride. I go up there in my high heels. You’re standing there. You’ve worked so hard for this moment.

And now you get to show it off!

For me, it’s a moment of pure happiness!”

Harriet Vrana, Psychotherapist: “I have to admit without a trace of envy, that some people achieve really impressive result with their bodies. Whoever spends that much time, energy and money on their bodies can change it quite a lot.

But this idea of it ever being possible to reach a state of permanency or or that I’m ever done working and can be happy, I don’t think that ever happens. And I believe that is what keeps us stuck in this rat race.”

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Body, Figure. Young people are perfectly satisfied with their appearance . True or false? What do they wish to accomplish? Is there a sort of competition?

Head, Hair. Have things always been this way, or has social media added a new dimension? Has social media changed society?

Face, Eyes, Lips, Teeth, Nose. Everyone, particularly women, is judged (subconsciously) by their character and personality. Is this right or wrong?

Shoulders. Who do teenage girls admire more: female engineers, scientists, business leaders, judges, doctors and politicians; or pop singers, actresses, TV hosts and models? Who do they view as role models?

Arms, Elbow, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. Are women motivated to take action? Or they don’t care?

Stomach, Waist, Hips. If women can’t achieve “perfection”, they shrug it off and move on in life. Is this correct or incorrect?

Legs, Knees, Feet, Toes. Describe Eva (the bikini athlete). Is she motivated and enthusiastic about her hobby? How does she feel?

Eyebrows, Eyelashes.
Was there are bias in (the tone of) the documentary, or was it completely objective and balanced?

Social media is very popular in my city. The most popular activity is viewing, commenting and uploading photos and videos on social media. Yes or no?

Fingernails, Toenails.
Are some people infatuated or obsessed about how they and others look? Are they obsessed with their physical appearance?

Back. Is physical appearance very important in society? Should people be concerned about how they and others look, or it shouldn’t matter?

What might happen in the future?

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