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How Social Media is Affecting Your Body Image

Nancy MacGregor MA, ATR-BC, LPC, ACS, Clinical Director

Social media is a significant part of today’s culture, with approximately 3.6 billion users worldwide. It’s used for a number of reasons today – connection, keeping up with friends and family, influencers, workout tips, food recipes, photography, makeup tutorials, gardening hacks, and the list goes on and on. With all of the good that comes with social media, there is also bad. Between Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and even Facebook, there is an increase in social media’s negative effects, especially when it comes to body image.   


In 2018, a small study found that time spent on social media correlated with negative body image and eating disorders. According to the study, disordered eating is rapidly increasing, especially in women in their twenties, due to beauty ideals that are touted on social media.   


Negative feelings towards your physical image are not only felt by young women. Young men are feeling the pressure from social media too. According to a N.Y. Times article, many teenage boys are feeling pressure to build muscle and hit the gym. One of the reasons? So they can start creating gym TikToks of their own.   


It’s been said that comparison is the thief of joy and social media sites can easily become the breeding ground for comparison if you’re not careful. Here are some ways that social media is negatively affecting your body image and how you can change the narrative and make it a more positive place.   Social media is a place where people want to portray their best selves. The reality is that everyone has some form of the following: scars, acne, stretch marks, cellulite, wrinkles, and blemishes. This is natural and something you don’t often see on social media, unfortunately. According to a 2017 poll that surveyed over 2,000 U.S. adults age 18 and up, nearly two-thirds of Americans edit their photos before posting. We see this all the time with influencers and celebrities, and it comes to the forefront when people are quick to point out a “Photoshop fail.”   When you go on social media, you might notice that there is a common body type that is “ideal” or on trend right now. It’s human nature to compare yourself against others, and if you don’t have that “ideal” body type that all of the Instagram models have, you might feel less than. It’s understandable to feel that way – everyone does at one point or another. But it’s extremely important to understand that this “ideal” body type is just a trend. If you look at “ideal” body types over the decades, you’ll notice it’s always changing.   If the content you are consuming makes you feel inadequate or upset, then it’s time to change things up. Here are some ways to take your power back on social media.   As you scroll through your feed, take note of what accounts bring you joy and what accounts make you feel bad about yourself. Keep the good and unfollow the bad. If you really want to see that person’s post, you can go back to it another time. But if looking at it is filling you with negative feelings about your body image, or anything else, it’s time to get it off your feed.   


Instead, fill your feed with accounts that make you laugh or feel empowered. You don’t have to disconnect from social media completely – you just need to create a different experience for yourself.   Most things online are carefully curated, and it’s important to remember that when you come across someone’s posts that seem “perfect.” There is no such thing as perfect, but there is such a thing as filtered. You can’t see everyone’s flaws – inside or out – all the time. Remembering this can give you a bit of solace as you make your way through your feed.    On social media, there are communities everywhere, and it’s likely that you’re not alone in negative feelings towards your body image that have been ingrained through unrealistic social media standards. Surround yourself with others online that are supportive and understand the worth of your values, not just your likes and shares.   

If social media feeds have left you with feelings of depression or disordered eating, it may be time to get help. There are plenty of programs to aid in healthy eating and nutrition. At Harmony Bay Wellness, we offer nutritional therapy services to help you overcome disordered eating and develop a healthy relationship with food and nutrition. You’ll work with a registered dietician who will formulate a treatment plan based on your desired goals while providing you with ongoing nutritional education and counseling.   


For more information on nutritional therapy services with Harmony Bay Wellness, contact us today at 855.765.6399 or take our nutrition and diet assessment.   

Published on 8/10/2022 | Written by Harmony Bay Wellness

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