Social media can make you feel ugly because it may promote toxic beauty standards.
Social media may also encourage people to be perfectionists — to only post their absolute best pictures. Those do not reflect reality, and can make you feel ugly.
I’m lucky: I don’t really use social media.
From time to time, I watch videos on YouTube, and promote some of my posts on Pinterest. That’s about it.
Now, it’s not like I avoid social media because I like to be different.
I avoid social media because I know it can be detrimental to mental health. It’s now a well known fact.
Worse yet, it’s addictive. I’ve met quite a few people who did realize social media had an impact on their mental wellbeing, but just couldn’t quit.
They wanted to, but they couldn’t.
Ever felt ugly, sad, or insecure because of social media? These are my thoughts…
Why social media makes you feel ugly
1. More is never enough
Pictures and videos posted on social media have become some kind of competition where more is never enough.
It doesn’t apply to everyone, of course. But I’ve seen it countless times, and I’m sure you’ve seen it as well.
In order to get likes and shares, some people are willing to do anything. This means the content they post has to get crazier and crazier in order to get attention.
Think of video thumbnails on YouTube. Each time I visit the site they seem to be more colorful, more weird, more, more, more. And the guy in the thumbnail always has a weird facial expression as well.
Why? Whoever uploaded the video wants clicks. They want your attention.
Which, in itself, isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
But the inevitable result of that is that perfectly normal pictures and videos seem insignificant now.
Normality has become boring. Normality has become unattractive.
And this is the first reason social media can make you feel ugly, even though you’re not.
If the goal is to get as much attention as possible, then everything has to be louder, more colorful, more extravagant. Including selfies and pictures of people in general.
2. Pics are carefully selected
Some of the pictures on social media are just plain fake — they’re photoshopped.
Or, the angle or pose of the guy/girl makes them look way skinnier than they actually are. I think we all know that.
But here’s the thing — even pictures that have not been altered in any way are still, in a way, fake.
They are fake because they are not indicative of what that person looks like in real life. Not all the time anyway.
A single picture, that may make you feel ugly, may have been taken ten times. And you only see the best picture. You definitely won’t see the worst.
No matter how spontaneous, how natural those pictures seem to be, know that virtually all content posted on social media has been carefully selected.
So really, you’re not looking at people. You’re looking at the absolute best pictures of them. Out of all pictures that were taken, you probably only see ten percent of them, at most.
And that’s why those pictures may make you feel ugly or unattractive.
3. Social media comments
It’s bad enough to be bombarded by pictures of seemingly perfect lives and bodies. But it doesn’t end there.
Because on most social media platforms, people (anyone) can leave comments. Or likes, or dislikes.
This means you are constantly exposed, you are vulnerable.
You post a picture of yourself and a complete stranger leaves a negative comment, and you feel ugly.
You post a picture of yourself and you don’t get as many likes as you thought you would, and you feel ugly.
Then you look at the profile of another complete stranger, who happens to have more likes or followers, or better pictures… and you feel even uglier.
It’s unfair (and bad for your mental health).
I’m sure that’s not what the developers had in mind when they created these platforms. But that’s what happens. That’s the reality of social media at the moment.
4. The cycle of comparison
Compare your life to that of others, and you’ll be unhappy. Guaranteed.
If you were looking for a way to instantly feel worse, then I’d say go on social media and compare yourself to a bunch of strangers.
You’re not supposed to compare your face, your skin, your body, your career, or your life to anyone else’s. That’s not how it works. It’s not a competition.
Sure, you can be inspired by others. But the cycle of comparison will always make you miserable.
The truth is that each and every one of us is unique. And our goal is to nurture our own uniqueness, our own special traits.
You are you. You’re not supposed to try and look like anybody else. And if you do, you may feel inadequate. And insecure. And ugly.
5. What is normal?
The fifth reason social media can easily make you feel ugly is that normality doesn’t really exist on social media.
Meaning: because of social media, we are moving toward a reality in which beauty standards are way too high. Obscenely, shockingly high.
The advertising industry is also to blame, of course. But I believe social media plays a big role here.
So you need to ask, what is normal? I’m pretty sure normality isn’t what you see on social media.
But the more you’re exposed to those perfect pictures, the more you’ll assume that is normality.
And guess what happens to normal individuals when they’re exposed to insanely high beauty standards, to doll-like models and physiques: they feel ugly.
Do you need a social media detox?
Breaking news: you don’t need to use social media.
No, seriously. Unless you’re using it for work. And the vast majority of people reading this will not need social media for work reasons.
Have you ever thought of going on a detox? And see if a few days or weeks without social media make you feel better?
Social media is very addictive, so it’s hard to take breaks.
But you need to realize, your mental health is at stake here. You may be developing an unhealthy body image and not even realize you are.
If social media makes you feel ugly (or if it triggers feelings of inadequacy, feelings that you’re not enough), then I encourage you to take a break.
Have a look at my collection of social media detox quotes. Some of these are quotes of people who quit social media and felt liberated.
Consider this: I don’t know a single person who quit social media and regretted it. Not one. I think it tells a lot about the impact of social media on our mental health.
Feeling ugly ≠ ugly
Let me tell you a secret.
You are beautiful. You are perfect the way you are.
But there are three things that can make you look ugly. These are:
- Feeling insecure
- Comparing yourself to others
- Not being yourself
And that’s why you need to take a break from social media. Or at least use it less frequently.
Most importantly, you need to focus on yourself. And yourself only!
I mentioned it earlier, but I can’t stress it enough — the cycle of comparison will only make you miserable.
Learn to love yourself. Surround yourself with people who appreciate you, who make you feel like a queen. Ignore anyone who doesn’t.
It’s time to feel beautiful.