The Social Media Trap

I’ve blogged before about body image and social media, but I can’t seem to say it enough. With the birth of social media has come an increase in body dysmorphia, unhealthy dieting and exercise, bullying and depression. Social media allows the whole world to have an opinion on your self-worth. Right there you should see the warning signs.

Humanity can be altruistic and kind, especially in times of crisis, but you only have to watch the news to recognize that people also tend to love pre-judging and putting people into categories. It’s a way for the brain to determine who is ‘us’ and who is ‘them’ with the least amount of brain effort.

This was a very handy skill when survival depended on that kind of information and efficiency. But just because a behaviour was once useful, doesn’t mean it still serves a purpose. And even though it’s a cognitive behaviour that tends to feed the emotions that lead us to war, it doesn’t seem like we’re going to wipe it out any time soon.

When we post a photo on social media we are usually hoping for an ego boost from ‘out there’, from someone other than ourselves. We feel we have no value unless others express approval and support. We are willingly putting our self-esteem out there at the mercy of people who have their own agendas and may only be there to take advantage of our vulnerability to boost their own self-esteem.

The other way that social media stomps on our self-esteem is through the accounts we follow. We may subscribe to certain people and sites looking for motivation and encouragement. We often seek these outside sources to help us find answers, set goals and visualize the body and lifestyle we want to have. It sounds like a great idea. It seems to make sense.

But, here’s the quicksand in that behaviour…

We are all different. Period. Genetically, we are each one of us unique. We were not all built to have a thigh gap, big breasts, or a tiny waist. These are anatomically determined by genetics. No amount of exercise or dieting can give you these things. Your bone structure, body fat displacement and muscle construction determine such things. Just as genetics determine our height and skin colour. There are some things we just can’t change. At least not in a healthy way.

Constantly striving to be your role model is a recipe for failure and shame. It will interfere with you living a true authentic life and probably damage your wallet too. Don’t forget that many social media accounts are businesses, in or out of disguise. They’re not really there to help you, they’re looking to keep you spending so they can stay in business.

The only way to begin to love yourself is to first accept that you are you. You are not Angelina Jolie, Beyonce, or Scarlet Johanssen. No one else is. You are you. Body positivity and self-esteem is about loving yourself and working on being the healthiest and happiest you that you can be.

Looking to social media is only going to send you into a roller-coaster of self-love and self-hate. Every like will lift your mood, every nasty comment can ruin your day. Do not give this power to other people. First determine what healthy and happy looks like for you, and then don’t let anyone else have the power to set a value on that.

Stay focused on self-care and creating the best life for yourself.

In a article on Health Vs Aesthetics Forbes Magazine suggests

  1. Delete the social media accounts you follow that use their bodies to sell you products or services.
  2. Follow accounts offering balanced and scientific information on health and wellness (fully clothed).
  3. Explore the world of Body Positive influencers.
  4. Speak nicely about your body, especially around others.
  5. Find a way to eat and be active that feels like pleasure, not punishment.
  6. Take notice of all the normal bodies around you and know that you’re normal too.

Don’t let social media break you.