As summer kicks off, we anticipate buying new swimsuits for the season, grabbing a beach towel, and laying out by the pool all day long. To some people, this consists of pure excitement, but for others, summer comes with insecurities. Males and females alike struggle with body image issues, but it occurs more often during the summertime. One source that often contributes to this self-consciousness is social media.

The negative effects women face with body image has grown steadily over the years as social media grows in popularity and usage.

People of all ages now use social media to post, tweet, or communicate with others. Though social media does have some positive aspects, like connecting with friends and sharing photos, there are some negative parts to it as well. All types of social media platforms can be seen as extremely powerful influences, explaining its monumental effect on body image.

As different hashtags, such as #fitspiration and #thinspiration, establish themselves as the norm on social media — this may be on common fitness accounts or posted on the accounts of well-known bodybuilders — they can endanger others and their bodies through the use of diet pills, cleanses, and food restrictions that are ultimately unhealthy. Because the majority of images women see on social media are of thin, toned individuals, their desire for a thin body can oftentimes take priority over the desire for a healthy lifestyle.

This phenomenon must come to an end.

Women who devote more time to social media may be at risk for developing eating disorders, which affects not only their physical health but their mental health as well. Seeing such images causes a downfall for women in all aspects of mental and physical wellbeing, establishing this problem as prominent in society.

Women will continue to body-shame themselves while under the domination of Instagram's hashtags and ideal body Instagram accounts, which is why the hashtags must change from negative to positive.

If our community replaces negative hashtags — #thinspiration and #fitspiration — with #selflove and #bodypositivity, we can redefine what it means to be "beautiful" in today's society. As a result, this improves the negative effects that body-shaming hashtags relay to our culture. By changing the tone and messages depicted through these hashtags, women are given the opportunity to understand that their bodies are unique and individually made, just as they were taught at a young age. The perfect body should not resemble a thin, tight, and tucked figure that women often strive to achieve, but a figure that is individually perfect and unique in its own way.

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Not everyone in today's society obtains or even has a body such as the ones seen on Instagram. In fact, 94% of female actresses in the United States appear much thinner on television than the average American woman, proving the images women see in the media are not even realistically attainable. The media portrays unreachable standards for women through the use of makeup, airbrushing, and editing. By posting #fitspiration and #thinspiration hashtags with photos on Instagram, women get the idea that they are supposed to be thin without any exceptions. However, replacing those hashtags would cause women to learn to embrace their bodies with the knowledge that each individual is different with a different figure, weight, height, and appearance. We must take it upon ourselves to make this change. The mental and physical health risks would lessen, establishing a healthier and more positive society for all.

Take care of your mind and your body. You deserve the love you have been depriving yourself of.