BY ELLEN ROCKSON
Jasmine Jennings, 20, is an average young woman. She has a part-time job and is a full-time student, studying Social Work at Sheridan College.
Also like many other female adolescents, she is a heavy user of social apps such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook. As much as she enjoys many aspects of the sites, her perspective of herself has been damaged in many ways from it.
“Social media almost made me change who I was and for me that was a big eyeopener,” she said.
Growing up she struggled with her self-esteem a lot. One of the main reasons being her weight. She weighed about 130 pounds in Grade 11, 140 pounds in Grade 12 and now she weighs 165.
“The biggest I’ve ever been is 165 pounds so it’s crazy to think I wasn’t even confident when I weighed only 130 pounds,” she said.
In Jennings’ eyes the majority of her girlfriends all have perfect bodies and pretty faces so a lot of the time she feels alone because she doesn’t think they can relate to her.
“Sometimes I hate going out with my friends because I feel like I don’t fit in, or that I am the odd one out,” she said.
Angel Anderson, Jennings’ close friend since high school, is one of the friends she admires most.
“I always tell Jasmine that I do relate to her because just like her I don’t fully love myself either. I wish I had a bigger butt and a tinier waste but I try not to let it affect me,” Anderson said.
Registered nurse Rianna Pinto has seen many cases of young women with self-confidence problems while working at River View Hospital for mental health patients in Vancouver.
“I saw women that had severe cases of mental health problems that started from them just hating their body which led to anxiety, eating disorders and continued to get worse,” Pinto said.
Anxiety is also something that Jennings has struggled with for years due to a variety of reasons, but media has increased her anxiousness over the last couple of years. Her anxiety mostly comes from the amount of likes she gets on her photos.
“When I post a photo, my anxiety kicks in right away. My likes have to hit a certain amount. If not I feel like crap,” she said.
Jennings has also felt envy toward other young women when it came to how social media started to shape how she viewed herself.
“I would look at other girls’ photos and be like her body is so nice, I wish I had it,” she said. “I hated myself more because I was bigger.”
This summer she had the confidence to play mas at the Caribana parade in Toronto.
“I never thought I’d show that much skin at once. My friends were so proud of me and most importantly I was proud of me,” she said happily.
She continues to compare her photos with others and occasionally gets unsatisfied with the number of likes she gets but does not shame herself how she did in the past or allow it to take a toll on her self-confidence.
“Social media will always be there you just have to learn how to cope with it,” she said.