Cancel culture is rife throughout our country today. Essentially, this is a contemporary form of ostracism, in which someone is eliminated socially or professionally, typically online, on social media, or even in person.
Last week, cancel culture took on a whole new meaning at a Florida high school. Upon receiving their highly anticipated yearbooks, scores of teenage girls found that certain parts of their bodies had simply vanished from their portraits. Primarily, these deletions were confined to bare shoulders and chests that suggested even the smallest hint of cleavage. Approximately 80 photos were obviously and clumsily “adjusted” by digital alteration. Another clever ploy was to place a black box on the photo, effectively canceling a female student’s chest.
School officials defended this action by claiming the photos were a violation of dress code policy. It appears that this administration is inordinately concerned with modesty, but only with the female students. With that said, no warning was given to anyone in advance of the yearbook’s release and no parent or student was given the opportunity to provide another photo option. In other words, these young girls excitedly flipped through the yearbook, only to discover their personal photos had been defaced.
Consider this: only female students were targeted, and shirtless photos of male students remained untouched. Even more egregious, the boy’s swim team was photographed in speedo swimsuits.
Does the term “double standard” or the word “discrimination come to mind? It is important to note that 78% of dress code violations district-wide went to female students.
For decades, adolescent girls have served as the official punching bag for those skilled in the art of shaming. Our perfection-driven society and the media are common culprits, but they are not alone. On every possible social media outlet, vulnerable, impressionable girls are daily told they are ugly, stupid, and pathetic. Fat shaming is a given. Bullies, who remain safely anonymous, relentlessly inform teenagers that suicide is their only recourse. Sadly, certain girls follow this instruction, thus ending the bullying forever.
This is precisely why countless numbers of females suffer with extreme body hatred and self-condemnation. In turn, depression, anxiety and certainly eating disorders are escalating at an alarming rate.
Although teenage girls are mercilessly criticized, according to school officials in Florida, the negative body-image list wasn’t quite thorough enough.
Now in addition to acne-riddled skin, unattractive hair and too much weight on the scale, these young students must be shamed for their burgeoning sexuality.
It is time for gender-discriminating, archaic rules such as these to be reconsidered and revised.
In a completely unrelated, but equally disturbing turn of events regarding children, last Friday Facebook revealed its new business venture. The company is hoping to extend their widely popular Instagram app to younger users, specifically those under 13. Currently, this population sector is prohibited from usage due to federal privacy regulations. Supposedly, this expanded app is intended to be a parent-controlled experience.
The announcement by Facebook, not surprisingly, was met with various degrees of outrage from those in the behavioral health field. And for good reason. Currently social media does far more damage than good when it comes to adolescents. Likes and dislikes, the advent of FOMO, reality vs filters and photo manipulation has created an entire generation of insecure, self-absorbed adolescents.
And now Mark Zuckerberg wants to infiltrate an even younger, more easily influenced group? His motivation is clear: start them young to ensure a life-long connection to Facebook-related apps. Developmentally, most children cannot even distinguish between real text and advertisements.
We at SunCloud Health hope this effort to expand the influence of Instagram fails. These young children must be protected from the inevitability of social media for as long as possible. Just let them be kids for a little longer—allow them to live in a child’s world of fantasy, make-believe, nature, and imagination. Give them just a little more time to interact with others face-to-face, instead of via a screen. Instagram, along with other apps, will get them soon enough.