It is a familiar site: Young people taking selfies to add to their Snapchat or Instagram stories. Generation Z has seen the ability of “normal people” to become overnight sensations through social media, perpetuating the growth of Brand “Me.”
Yet this seemingly self-obsessed behavior hides some dark patterns regarding body image, which we uncovered in “We Are Gen Z” report. Negative body image among large percentages of the population born between 1995 and 2015 has the potential to develop into very real mental health issues.
Body image is keeping a large segment of Gen Z from participating in social activities. According to our research, 35% say they won’t go swimming and 32% say they won’t go to the beach. Another 43% say they won’t go dancing and 56% say they’re not willing to dress provocatively if they don’t like how they look, physically.
Generation Z knows images snapped while out with friends will get shared and they even seem to anticipate those activities that might set them up for ridicule or further harm the view they have of their own bodies. The potential for cyberbullying – which is more prevalent with this generation – and even face-to-face bullying only add to this anxiety.
Equally disturbing is the high percentage of Gen Zers who say they are generally stressed. Overall, 64% say they are stressed with this number even higher if broken out for white non-Hispanics at 71% and 66% for Hispanics. They worry about the massive competition for achievement in school and for employment along with the rapid changes from globalization. Additionally, the realities of this past recession remain vivid and real in their households so they internalize it.
On a positive note, when asked if they are willing to get help from someone outside their inner circle of family and friends, most of Gen Z is open to this. The leading group is Hispanics at 88%, followed closely by Asians at 87% and African-Americans and White Non-Hispanics at 86%. Let’s hope they avail themselves of the resource that can help them cope with some of these troubling issues.