‘Effortless perfection’ is a mirage negatively affecting young women’s mental health

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Although struggle is part of life, there should be no pressure to complete tasks without difficulty or to make most things seem like they have come easy. The expectation to be beyond reproach and to excel in all aspects of life is perpetuated by social media and is terrible for the confidence and mental health of young women. This idea of ​​achieving “effortless perfection” is completely unrealistic and does more harm than good to women in society. A solution to this problem starts with changing the way social media is used.

The idea that one can achieve “perfection” without having to work hard and face hardships along the way is unrealistic and detrimental to young women who seem to present this front. Young women, especially those using social media, are most affected by this mirage of perfection. Social media provides a stream of curated beauty standards and trends that compel young women to compare themselves to others. In a study as of 2010, viewing these types of images on Instagram has been shown to lead to an increased need for women to compare themselves to other women. The women considered themselves to be below certain stated standards.

The reality is that most content on social media is curated and fails to go below the surface. Perpetuating this idea of ​​effortless perfection online only exacerbates the problem and can have adverse effects on mental health. Researchers found that 29% of girls who spent three hours or more a day on social media self-harmed and 31% of girls who spent five hours or more on social media were depressed. While this idea of ​​effortless perfection applies negatively to beauty standards, it can have a similar impact on other areas of a woman’s life, such as academia or her career.

In academia, this idea of ​​effortless perfection is even more relevant and has led to the unfortunate suicide of many students across the country. In 2014, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, Madison Holleran, died by suicide, and her tragic story has fueled a new perspective on the myth of effortless perfection. Madison’s Instagram profile was filled with beautiful pictures that displayed a perfect life and you would never have suspected she was struggling. This is a widespread problem that is especially prevalent in rigorous and competitive universities where students are already comparing themselves to their classmates. Suicide rates among 15 to 24 year olds rose in 2007, and anxiety and depression are the most common mental health diagnoses among college students.

In order to compete and excel in male-dominated fields, women also feel the need to outperform their male counterparts. In the workplace, there is pressure for a woman to take on more responsibility and maintain an appearance of effortless perfection in order to be a substantial competitor. In one of the biggest studies done on this topic, researchers have found that men are 30% more likely than women to be promoted to leadership positions. The percentage of men and women is nearly equal in entry-level jobs, however, the percentage of women moving up the ranks and into the C-Suite becomes even lower, as women make up only 1% of the workforce. workforce at this level. The rate at which women are promoted to higher positions is disproportionately lower than that of men, which already puts the finish line further out for women.

Lasting struggle is part of growing as a person and unlocking potential. But, in the world of social media influencers, content creators, and celebrities, this myth of effortless perfection only contributes to that unattainable and unrealistic expectation that one should be flawless. While many factors contribute to the myth of effortless perfection, social media and idealized content are at the forefront. In order to combat this, there needs to be a change in the way social media is used as well as more honest and open conversations that stop the cycle of harm this myth is creating.

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