Is Health and Fitness Culture Helping or Hurting?

Adviser’s Note: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this opinion article belong solely to the author and do not reflect the view of The Colt Chronicle Staff, Kinnelon High School, or its students and staff members.

When scrolling on social media, whether it’s Pinterest, TikTok, or Instagram, the “clean girl” lifestyle is promoted and encouraged. The life where you make healthy overnight oats, and have your bloom juice before a long gym workout. Post by post, people see edited bodies, and filters that make your eyelashes longer, and contours your nose, and they are becoming brainwashed to the point where they have lost reality. It only takes one video to then look at yourself in the mirror, and wish the face looking back was the one with a filter. This lifestyle is extremely popular, but is this truly helping or is it hurting? 

According to the New York Post, 68% of people are dissatisfied with their looks, and have body image issues. When social media paints a picture of an hourglass figure, and tiny noses, those who don’t fit the picture believe that they are just scribbles, while everyone else is a work of art. 

Although social media includes topics related to purely this aesthetic, who says people have to listen? It is argued that it’s not the creators fault, as some people want to see that, and the others can skip. But when stores like Brandy Melville where the “one size fits all” stops at a 28 inch-32 inch length which is considered “oversized” it is hard to feel that your body is good enough when you’re labeled as oversized. Brandy Melvilles jeans have a waistline of 26 inches which is over five inches below the average waistline for a teenage girl. Social media says the shopper needs to change instead of the standards. 

“Nothing tastes better than skinny feels.” Words like this are the reason that around 70 million people worldwide have eating disorders. The people who give this advice create a portfolio online of their “perfect” bodies, and their poreless skin. But what these same people don’t tell you, is that 71% of photos posted online are edited. When over half the population (4.9 billion people) have social media they think they must look like the filter to be pretty. When social media surrounds people with standards that can not be naturally achieved, but passes it off as a result from a cardio routine, it makes people think they just aren’t trying hard enough. 

Over 28.8 million Americans will develop one. Only about 20% of these people will make a full recovery unless paying for an eating disorder clinic with a 60% success rate. Since social media, eating disorders have been climbing up every year. In the year of 2023 eating disorder diagnoses have risen up to 7.8%. Social media presses the constant pressure to change yourself, instead of the standards. Out of every mental illness, eating disorders have the highest death rate.

Everyday it is becoming normalized to make unrealistic bodies normal.When something completely unreachable is becoming normal, it makes it impossible for people to feel like their filterless face is good enough. Instead of telling people it’s normal to workout for 3 hours, start normalizing to fix the standards. How can the standard problem be changed, if no one can acknowledge the issue?