The Impact of Social Media on Body Image: Don’t Be so Sure You’re Not Affected

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If you almost can’t scroll through posts without making comparisons between the image of the woman you’re looking at and yourself–that means one thing:

You are caught up in social media hysteria.

Social media, being a large part of today’s culture, has created an illusion of the so-called ideal  “good looks” that appraises certain body types and looks as a result, it impacts how you see yourself, and automatically, you’re pressured to present yourself in the perfect light because of the way you see other people. With all this feeling of low self-esteem, it is eating at you more than you realize.

Is Social Media to be Blamed for Body Image Issues?

Partly. Social media might have had a major role played in this, and here’s data that points out the negative impact of social media on body image, and eating disorders, affirming undoubtedly its negative influence.  

When it comes to how much the media is to be blamed for body image issues, both Instagram and Facebook might give a vague study of how it has affected their users. Still, chances are, some of these people could already be dealing with some body image issues—Maybe social media added gasoline to the fire— and that could open doors to some vulnerability to be easily influenced by what they see on the internet.

This is a common problem among teens and young adults, for many of us, accepting the changes in our bodies takes some getting used to, especially when there’s more pressure to fit in.

What Role Has Social Media Played on Diet and Body Misinformation?

So, how do you know how social media has influenced you?

Following Unhealthy Diet Trends

Chances are, you’ve started considering a diet and exercise regime due to what you saw online

One of the most common influence is dishonest and dangerous, idealized diet information. One example is the trendy fad diets. These trends often promote thin and muscular standards, idealizing unrealistic expectations of how your body should look which often leads to disordered eating and rigorous exercises.

Making Comparisons

You might sometimes find out you hate yourself whenever you’re exposed to these supposed ideal body types. It’s no coincidence that this causes you to have an unattainable image of yourself based on what you see, and head first into distress or depression when you realize you can’t meet those expectations. 

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But what you might be missing is—comparing yourself to photoshopped and filtered images from people you don’t even know, people who probably have a team of photographers, make-up artists, and editors in place to make them look their best isn’t worth the stress you’re going through. 

Photoshopping Your Photos

 According to this poll conducted in 2017,  two-thirds of people edit their posts before posting. Photoshopping and filtering are responsible for raising the bar on what people perceive as the ideal way to ‘live’ or ‘look.’

Aside from editing to correct image lighting, the process of editing your own picture plays a huge role in how you see yourself.  Another data shows how harmful it is to edit your pictures, more than posting them because it lets you focus more on your flaws and you try to fix them.

So-called Guru Social Accounts

A US survey shows how 10% of college women created social media posts related to diet, exercise, and body image, over a period of one month. 

Some of these women who wanted to lose weight spent more time on social media and ended up with disordered eating symptoms which led to weight comparisons and negative feelings about their bodies.

Is Social Media Solely to Blame for Body Image and Mental Health?

Just because it plays a huge part in distorted body image doesn’t mean it’s the only cause for it. It’s been in existence long before the introduction of the internet. There are circumstances and experiences such as; cultural differences surrounding body image standards, gender, sexuality, social dynamics, and friends and family comments concerning your body, among others.

How to Protect Your Body Image

1. Set Out to Unfollow and Clean Your Social Feed

Pay attention to accounts that make you feel bad about yourself, and instead replace them with accounts, hashtags, and communities promoting body image positivity that is going to make you feel better about yourself.

2. Go Easy on Yourself

Self-acceptance always takes time. You have probably spent years hating your body and comparing yourself to others. You need to exercise a lot of patience because changing the way you’ve always seen yourself may take time. Focusing on body neutrality is a great way to start.   

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3If You Must Lose Weight Do it in Moderation

 There are a lot of ways to eat and exercise without sacrificing your health. Find and follow healthy diets and exercise regimens that let you lose weight the right way. Avoid schemes and short trends that promote rigorous diets and exercises with high-risk factors.

4. You Might Need a Break

 Give yourself a break, whether that requires a few hours every day, or even weeks long. If that’s what it takes to boost your mood and increase your happiness. Don’t be afraid to put your phone away for a while, you might just need to create as much time for other things in your life. 

Closing Thoughts

If there are other profound body positivity trends I find meaningful exposing idealized body image issues, it would be the Instagram Vs reality movement.

The side-by-side comparison of Instagram-edited images of the same person, Vs their real unedited image showing their imperfections. For women and men alike to see, it’s a good reference to show that social media is a facade after all. 

Through this trend, there have been several reports on its positive influence on women feeling better about themselves. 

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