How Social Media Has Impacted Black Girls’ Self-Image

digital footprint & identity digital safety digital well-being Feb 17, 2024
How Social Media Has Impacted Black Girls’ Self-Image

By: Janiyah Gaston, Seasonal Public Relations Intern | Digital4Good


Social media is a powerful tool that influences the way we see ourselves. For young Black girls, this impact is felt all the more strongly. Throughout history, women of color — especially Black women — have been underrepresented or misrepresented in various forms of media. Social media has made it clear that we are still struggling to acknowledge the damage this has on Black girls' self-image.


The Bad Side of Social Media

We often take for granted just how powerful of an influence social media can have on ourselves. Simply scrolling through influencers’, celebrities’, and even peers’ curated photos of their lives can elicit feelings of low self-esteem and self-worth in children and teens. For Black girls, these issues are amplified by systemic problems that they deal with on a daily basis, including racism, colorism, and misogyny.  


Unhealthy beauty standards

The Eurocentric beauty standards set by Western societal norms — and enforced by social media platforms — are incredibly harmful to Black girls. Dominant constructs of “beauty” often exclude certain hair types and skin tones, favoring features such as lighter skin and straighter hair. Not only are these standards pushed by Caucasian and non-Black people, but they are also promoted within the Black community. These unhealthy standards are internalized by Black girls, making them feel that they are unworthy of the love and appreciation they deserve. 


Lowered confidence

When Black girls share a personal experience online or try to highlight an issue Black girls go through, they are often met by backlash from other users. Receiving negative comments on a post is already difficult for a young person. Negative comments discrediting or questioning your personal experiences can significantly damage your self-confidence.


The Benefits of Social Media


Finding community and solidarity

Social media makes it easier to find other Black girls with common experiences. When you can connect with people who empathize with you and understand what you’re going through, this not only helps create a sense of community, but it can also be incredibly validating. 


The importance of representation 

When young Black girls are able to see themselves in popular media, this improves their self-image. Positive representation of Black girls in media, such as TikTok accounts run by Black influencers or TV shows starring young Black actresses, helps them see that they are worth enough to be seen enough in any form of media.


Social media is designed to find content that relates to your interest, so you may not be exposed to what different racial groups go through. By just taking the time to just listen to their experience you can be a better informed digital citizen. 


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