Jewish teens lack influence on social media

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Shira Laserson, a junior community health major, has a large Instagram following on her Instagram account, @feedyourselff, where she shares recipes and support for those struggling with eating disorders.

Meera Sunil
For Mitzpeh
@meerasunil

With the rise of new social media apps and content comes the rise of influencers. However, one missing aspect of these influences is preventing some from idolizing and following them: representation. The majority of young people reaching fame through social media tend to lack ethnic, racial and religious diversity. Jewish social media influencers are almost non-existent, which leaves many Jewish youths feeling unhead and out of place in the social media world. 

Freshman marketing major Brooke Orenstein, who doesn’t know any Jewish influencers, feels underrepresented in comparison to other groups. 

“Anti-semitism is at an all-time high right now and I just feel like compared to other social activism movements, this issue is not nearly addressed as much as others,” Orenstein said. 

This begs the question: how can we help Jewish adolescents feel more comfortable in the digital age?

Orenstein’s sentiment is shared by many of her peers who are heavy consumers of media. Freshman biology major Noah Glaser also knows no Jewish influencers, and he believes the lack of such representation stems from politics.

“Israeli companies [feeling] inclined to pay [influencers] to advertise their products,” he said. “These influencers would get lots of hate for promoting an Israeli company.”

Specifically, Orenstein fears that ties to Israel may inhibit Jewish influencers’ reach, as many people shy away from the conflict between Israel and its surrounding countries.

“An affiliation with Israel is often overlooked and seen as a negative thing,” he said. “Many people’s relationships with Israel are completely independent of conflict with other countries and religions.” 

Despite the small number of Jewish influencers, there are some at this university. Shira Laserson, a junior community health major, publicly utilizes Instagram as a platform to share positivity through healthy cooking and eating. Laserson’s page, @feedyourselff, has over 3,000 followers, in the Jewish community and beyond. As a survivor of anorexia, Laserson said she was motivated to create the account to reach people who struggle with eating disorders or disordered thought, an issue she believes has specific significance within Jewish communities.

“Eating disorders are not talked about much particularly in religious Jewish communities,” Laserson said. 

Laserson wanted to make sure many Jewish recovering survivors have healthy kosher options as well as general inspiration. 

To some, a social media presence may seem shallow, or unimportant. However, as Orenstein said, anti-Semitism is at an all-time high according to the Anti-Defamation League. Representation in the media may help Jewish students not only represented in their day-to-day lives, but comfortable and safe in society, too.