Survey suggests that reality TV and social media is damaging to body image

  • img Harvey Cawdron
  • POSTED ON 31 Jul 2018
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A survey has suggested that over half of 18-34 year olds believe that social media and reality TV have a negative effect on how they view their own bodies. 

The ComRes survey done for BBC 5 Live had a sample size of 2,000 British adults, and suggested that younger people were more likely to consider getting plastic surgery. 

Around 35% of people blamed shows like Love Island and The Only Way is Essex, and this figure increased to 55% in the 18-34 age group.

Recently, ITV defended the advertising around Love Island, after it was scorned by the head of the NHS after viewings of cosmetic surgery adverts.

The survey asked whether people would consider having plastic surgery or a cosmetic procedure, and more young people said they would than any other age group. 35% of the group said they would, compared to the 20% average. 

Kirsty and Montanna, both 27, spoke to BBC Radio 5 Live. After she had a baby, Kirsty had breast implants. She said 'After the baby my boobs just went like scoops, like witches' scoops, they were so horrible. They had no volume in the top and I thought 'I'm not going on holiday and wearing a bikini like this, I'd have to put chicken fillets in. It's the best thing I've ever done'.' Kirsty claimed that she refused to let her boyfriend see her without a top on before the surgery, saying 'He adores me no matter what - he was never a boob man before I had them done, but now he's completely changed.'

Montanna has not had surgery herself, but is considering it after seeing Kirsty recently on holiday. She said 'I just felt completely flat-chested, and you just looked so glamorous and happy and free. I've wanted a boob job since I was about 16. I've always put socks down my bra. I think I'd just be happier in myself, I could just wear different clothes, I wouldn't be conscious of them, I could just relax a bit more.' 

It is suggested by the survey that a quarter of British adults have either had plastic surgery or a cosmetic procedure, or know someone that has. 

Montanna claims that both her and Kirsty know plenty of people who have gone through such a procedure, and highlighted the role that social media plays in this. She said 'A lot of people have just put themselves into debt for it. They get it on finance, and rather than thinking 'my priority is to get a nice house', they'd rather look good for a nice Instagram picture.' 

Melinda Messenger began as a glamour model. When she was 24, she said she had breast surgery to increase her C-cups into D-cups. She said 'It was so personal that I didn't tell anyone, I needed to make an adjustment to feel more like myself.' In hindsight, she wishes she'd realised how unnecessary it was, saying 'There's a bit of me that goes - I wish I'd recognised that I was fine as I was.' However, she added 'But in fact it was maybe a bridge of confidence that I needed'.

Messenger has 3 children, and despite how she feels about her own experience, she said she would support her daughter if she wished for a breast enlargement. She said 'As long as it was thoroughly talked through and understood, and all the risks and consequences understood, then I would support that.' 

Montanna thinks the pressure to look good is high, saying 'Especially up here where we live, every girl is pretty much perfect. They've all had their boobs done, they're all really thin. I think if you said to the majority of girls, 'I'll give you a free boob job', I think you'd be hard pushed to find people who'd turn it down.'