As with any university student, the thought of picking a dissertation topic that you will put blood, sweat and most definitely tears in is a daunting prospect. I know I wanted to pick a topic that firstly I found interesting and secondly one that is a current issue in today’s society. With much thought, I decided to research the effects that social media has on our self- esteem and body image.
One of my main inspirations for researching this topic was through watching a BBC Three documentary, called ‘Jesy Nelson; ‘Odd One Out.’’ We all remember Jesy as being on the X Factor in 2011, one of the four members of the girl group Little Mix. As a 12-year-old girl, I was in awe of Little Mix, an all-girl group filled with ‘ordinary’ happy go lucky girls, who had just won one of the biggest TV shows in the UK. Being thrown into fame and fortune and not being able to walk down the street without everyone knowing you, is probably a dream for many. However, for Jesy Nelson she quickly wished she had never entered and desperately longed for the life she once had.
Watching the documentary was genuinely heartbreaking; seeing someone in the spot light who seems to have everything you could possibly want in life so depressed and dispirited. It is completely beyond my comprehension as to why anyone can fulfil pleasure through being an online troll and bringing others down for their own satisfaction. These trolls hide behind keyboards and don’t take a second to think about the impact their words have on the individual. The tweets circling about Jesy were truly repulsive: ‘The fat ugly one.’….. ‘Go kill yourself.’…… ‘Wide load coming through.’…. ‘4 members 5 chins.’ …. ‘Saggy, baggy, rough and don’t get me started on her face.’
Controversial Katie Hopkins added further unnecessary fuel to the fire tweeting: ‘Packet mix have still got a chubber in their ranks. Less Little Mix more pick n mix.’ Jesy gave an authentic, distressing account to the consequence of the sheer level of hatred she was receiving, as she began starving herself which led to her attempting to take her own life in 2013. We are all guilty of putting celebrities on this unrealistic pedestal, I know I do! Celebrities tend to have a god like status with a human face, however this documentary highlighted just how ‘human’ celebrities are, with the same emotions any sane person would have in this situation.
Jesy Nelson’s documentary aired on 12thSeptember 2019, breaking the BBC Three record with 3.3 million views, 64% of which were 16-34 year olds. The film tackles mental health issues and appears to have made a real difference to those going through similar experiences. One fan tweeted: ‘The #OddOneOut Jesy Nelson documentary is one of the saddest and scary things I have ever watched. This needs to be shown everywhere to teach people the devastating effects their words and comments have. Be kind. Always.’ Another fan tweeted: ‘My favourite from day one. The girl I saw so much of myself in. Please know that not everything you see on social media is what it seems. We are all human beings.’ The amount of support Jesy has received following the release of the film has been staggering.
I really do recommend everyone to watch this documentary, I have a lot of admiration for Jesy Nelson, in being so brave and for sharing such a deeply personal and inspiring message. The influence that mass media has on self-esteem and body image, can be devastating. This particular case showed just how impactful vile comments can be, leading to body dissatisfaction and other health concerns including; eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression. We all come in different shapes and sizes and shouldn’t let the opinions of others bring us down. I know that this film has empowered women from all over Britain and here in Ireland to embrace the body they’ve been given and not to let petty comments from petty people affect you.
If I haven’t bored you and you’ve got this far please if you can take one thing from this blog post; be nice to people, no matter WHO they are, everyone’s fighting a battle others know nothing about. Now on that note off I go to start this dissertation.
Hannah Colgan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-colgan-b65179166/ and Instagram – @Hannahcolgan890