I think by now we are all aware that social media is harming our mental health and yet our impulses ensure we keep on going back to scrolling through our feed.
How many times have you seen a post from a friend or celebrity and thought to yourself ‘I wish I was there’ or ‘I wish I had that life’ or ‘I wish I looked like them’? I’m guessing more than once.
Now with that in mind consider this: how many times have you seen someone post their flaws and negative experiences on social media? I’m guessing not a lot, if at all.
Social media basically makes us wish we had a life that no one has. No matter how many times someone posts their ‘perfect’ lifestyle or body the fact still remains that they have had negative experiences and struggles, they’ve just chosen not to post them on social media. We looking at a small section of people’s lives (their highlights) and comparing them to our entire lives — I’m hoping you can now see the issue.
Social Media and Body Image
The way that social media is impacting our body image is one of its biggest issues especially since editing apps have become easy to use. Editing apps promote unrealistic body types which have to lead to us becoming more self-critical of our appearance. It also makes it very different to filter between what’s real and what isn’t.
Alongside the images of the ‘perfect’ body, celebrities, influencers, and brands continue to promote weight loss products and cosmetic procedures. Instagram has introduced policies to try and restrict these however it can be hard to regulate especially when the images are posted without any negative intentions.
How can I craft a positive social media experience?
Step one is the easiest of them all — open up your social media feeds and whenever you see a profile that makes you feel negative about yourself, unfollow, or block them. We want a feed filled with positivity and creativity. It’s also important to remember that just because someone is your friend in real life, doesn’t mean you have to follow them on social media; some people’s social media facade is very different to what they are actually like.
Step two may seem difficult if you find yourself constantly on your phone, but after a few days, you will fall right into a routine. Try to limit your social media use — perhaps only look at it during your lunch break or maybe just limit the amount of time you are on each app. Most phones have a build-in screentime app which is great for this! The aim of this isn’t to make you feel disconnected but instead, to help you to realize what’s going on in the real world around you — social media can harm our mental health without even realizing it.
And finally step three: stop seeking validation from your posts. Hands up if you’ve ever deleted a post because it didn’t get ‘enough’ likes. Well if your hand is up then I’m talking to you. Getting loads of likes on your latest post feels amazing but you need to start posting for you so that you feel comfortable in your own skin, instead of posting for the approval of others. Would you go and ask all your friends and family in real life if they liked your outfit or makeup that day? No! So why ask for the same approval on social media?
An ongoing trend on Instagram is #instagramvsreality where people post two photos — one which has been edited or staged, and another that reflects the reality of their lives. Search for the hashtag and take a look!
The aim of the trend is to celebrate all body types and these two posts do exactly that. They also prove how easy it is to make yourself look different from the reality of social media. It’s time we celebrate all body types and everyone’s beauty instead of promoting body types that fit into society’s narrow version of ‘perfection’.