Social Media & Self-Esteem w/ Cathya

Within the last few years, women’s accomplishments have given birth to a new kind of fearlessness. Tarana Burke’s #MeToo movement has cast light on the frequency of sexual assault while student-activist Emma Gonzalez is taking a stand against gun violence (following the massacre at  Florida’s Douglas High School). As we continue to make strides towards changing our overall narrative, social media has become a key tool through which we raise our voices. Users of all backgrounds develop online identities to spread their message and gain followers. And it’s  through these tactics that women are able to tell their own stories as well as share new ones.

However, a woman’s story begins long before she creates an online profile or even transitions into adulthood. It’s been said that a child starts to develop self-esteem by the age of five. And by the time, they enter high school that self-esteem starts to fade. So, at what age between five and fourteen years old does the average girl develop an online identity? And how does that identity begin to affect who she is “in real life”.

Cathya Belen Lopez was born and raised in Menlo Park, California, a bustling suburban city that is now home to expensive condominiums and flourishing social media companies. She grew up one of four sisters, raised by loving parents and a particularly strong-willed mother. Lopez credits her experience growing up in a predominantly-female home with helping her become the woman that she is today. 

“Growing up with sisters was a very unique experience. It made you want to be that go-to person when someone was in need.”

I met Cathya once I joined the Abuse Team as a Content Analyst at Twitter. For a year, we each analyzed user profiles determining whether their coded content was abusive to the online community. Sometimes this included inappropriate sexual content and other times it included young people trolling one another for the hell of it. In both cases, people were getting hurt.

“I have a love hate relationship with social media especially after working on the back end of it. Trying to make it an inclusive open platform has been in the back of my head while in these positions. A lot of the women I meet struggle with self esteem and if you’re already down in the dumps, then anything can throw you over the edge.”

With this knowledge, and as a member of the Casa de Gitanas quadfecta, Cathya actively advocates for and empowers women through the art of jewelry making and the social experience of clothing exchange.

Ashley Nash