67% of females say that social networking affects their mood and self-image.

That's according to my online survey, which invited females to speak about how they perceive themselves today in the social media age. My survey uncovered some fascinating, but heartbreaking facts about my participants.

Out of 40 respondents:

  • 34% said their mood and self-image depends upon the number of social media “likes” they receive.
  • 23% said their appearance is more important than others loving them.
  • Only three from the 40 respondents feel happy regarding their weight.

77% of the participants were millennials between 16 and 34 years old. This suggests that this age group is greatly impacted by self-image issues.


Emma Oliver, founder and CEO from the Friendly Development Charity, an organisation that delivers self-esteem workshops in Newcastle, UK, said, “Our appearance so far outweighs who we are as people and it's far too important.”

When survey participants shared which aspects of personal appearance make them most happy, answers were typically shorter than answers detailing the things they were least happy about. Many taken care of immediately this question with one-word answers, and something participant answered, “Nothing.”

Emma added, “Self-worth is so low, even in people who come from loving families, and I think it's all linked to posting filters and that validation we get when we do [post]. If we don't get that, then we feel like our worth is minimal when compared with someone who is… getting 300 likes each day when they post a photo and they're validated because of what they look like.”

When asked to describe which aspect of personal appearance people are most happy about, hair (29%) and eyes (21%) arrived on the scene on top. This may be because we are able to alter them instantly. However, weight and the body shape, which ranked lowest, need a longer timescale to change.

Using makeup to enhance how we look continues to grow in popularity, along with the streams of selfies and makeup tutorials on social networking.

Emma's experience running workshops with young females has found that how we look in makeup has turned into a huge part of our self-image. We often know people for their makeup, and taking out the “mask” causes them to lose their identity.

Nadia Mendoza runs The Self-Esteem Team, which delivers self-esteem workshops to British students. She believes that, “Social media is a bottomless entity. It literally never stops.There are always more selfies, more makeovers, more fitspos, more weight loss, more filters and transformations – meaning we can never switch off. This 24/7 loop causes it to be highly accessible, meaning we're constantly exposed to new images that feed a nearly innate impulse to compare ourselves to other people.”

My survey reflects Nadia's comments, as 21% admitted to comparing themselves to other people.


Glamour magazine also recently conducted a survey about self-image. It discovered that 55% of millennial women describe themselves as “anxious,” especially at the office. Additionally, 75% of women are anxious regarding their job prospects, while 74% worry about their finances.

My survey also found that people consider working minimal controllable aspect of life. due to a lack of involvement in decision-making processes, the number of hours they work, and temporary or zero-hours contracts, which in turn causes financial uncertainty.

Professor Catherine Donovan, social relations academic at the University of Sunderland, explains, “You're working, but they're never going to earn enough to pay your rent, let alone buy a house. Increasingly, young people are moving back in with their parents because they don't have any choice financially, and that brings with it a whole set of other pressures. Lots of people think zero-hours contracts are the way it is so you do with them as you can, however they are really new, and people should be campaigning against them and joining unions.”

In May 2021, there were an estimated 1.4 million zero-hours contracts in the united kingdom, over half occupied by women. A significant number of millennials also found themselves in this situation, with no guaranteed minimum working hours and reduced workers' rights.

Catherine believes the possible lack of workers' rights and government policies has impacted young people's independence. She said, “When my mother who's in her 80s was at school the leaving age was 14, now it's 18, so that you have to live with your parents until you're 18.

“There will also be all the different rules around benefits and when you can apply for them… They're all age limited. You do not even get an adult's minimum wage until you're 25, so that's another big factor [in] why people can't live independently.”

While this is usually a sign of having less control and independence, nearly all participants in my survey felt they had a high level of control and independence.

Catherine agrees that young adults have gained more control and independence in much of their lives and the choices they make. The ability to control fertility, for example, means that young people have greater freedom with relationships and intimacy.

While there are evidently some good aspects of living in the millennial age, there are definitely numerous concerning factors.

Nadia from the Self-Esteem Team, concludes, “Combine the relentless pressure of social media to be 'perfect' or 'living your best life,' pushy parents… the rise of unemployment [and housing prices], the prospect of leaving uni with gargantuan debts – then cumulatively, you begin to see that growing up nowadays is not the privileged life that critics [think it is], but an incredibly uncertain, unpredictable, and scary space.”