The Daily Mail is reporting on statements made by Tanya Byron, 49, at the recent Vogue Festival in which she cites a penchant among stars such as Kim Kardashian and Rihanna to post over-sexualized pictures of themselves in skimpy clothes and sultry poses on their Twitter and Instagram accounts – all of which teach young girls worrying lessons about sexuality.
Byron, who is well-known for her work on British television, says there has been a 70 percent increase in the number of self-harming teens who presented themselves to emergency rooms in England over the last three years. She attributes this rise to the impossible beauty standards being pushed by celebrities on-line.
“One of the things that bothers me – as almost a 50-year-old woman – is the pressure on women. As much as we say, It’s brains not breasts,’ there is that pressure,” Byron said.
“ . . . [W]hen you look at these curated images you look at these young women [celebrities] who are posing in a way that is so overtly sexual and these [viewers] are kind of minors. These are under-16-year-olds. These are people for whom it is illegal to have any sexual interaction with, and often there are celebrities who are ‘selfie-ing’ every five minutes in their pants and their bras and I just kind of think ‘What is that about?’”
She continues: “What are we saying to young women about what image do you show of yourself? It is overtly sexualized. It feels like the feminism my mum was involved in, in the 1960s, it’s dead now. We are back to ‘What cleavage have you got?’ I just feel really uncomfortable with that.”
Although she didn’t name any stars in particular, photos of Kardashian, Rihanna, Rita Ora, Beyonce and others were shown on the screen during a panel discussion in which she participated. In the discussion, entitled, “Your Social Media: What’s Real Now?” Byron reminded that stars pick out the best images – which are sometimes edited – and post them as if they’re a candid look into their everyday lives.
But they’re not, and most fans, who are young girls, don’t realize that a lot of what they’re seeing is photo-shopped. As a result, many teens are nearly killing themselves trying to replicate the polished beauty of the stars.
“It is no accident that we are seeing a massive increase in eating disorders and self-harming in young people with the increase of social media use,” Byron said.
“I do think they are linked and it does need to be thought about seriously and the curating of images has to be seen to have a massive social responsibility. In the wrong hands it can be incredibly damaging.”
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