Is social media making you hate yourself?
Body dissatisfaction arises when we have negative thoughts and feelings about our bodies and this often surfaces when we suffer from a syndrome know as social media comparison-itis. Yep, I did make up the name but it is a very real feeling!
I know that I have certainly felt it when I have had some suggested pages pop up that show some fitness model with amazing abs and arms. And the thing is, I KNOW that they have restrictive dieted, dehydrated and done crazy things that I don’t want to do to get that body, but I still feel that little twinge of “wish I looked like that….”
And if we are being honest, then I will also tell you that I used to check and double check the photos that I posted on social media to make sure they looked good. I’m guessing I’m not alone here! (Nope, I don’t check them anymore – the more unflattering, the better). Interestingly, studies show that women tend to do that more than men do. It's sort of funny, isn’t it? We know what goes through our mind when we post things, but we don’t always apply that when we see someone else’s post - like the fact that things may not be as perfect as they seem.
Why is body dissatisfaction a big deal?
Well, when we feel this our body image takes a hit. And although you would think that disliking ourselves and having a low body image is the reason we might decide to change, studies have proven over and over again that people who are less satisfied with their body are less likely to engage in healthy practices such as eating nutritious food and moving their body. Makes sense though. You generally take care of the things in life that you like, don’t you?
Improve your body image through this one small action!
Take a good hard look at your social media accounts and follow or unlike any site that uses bodies to advertise themselves or their business or any person that frequently posts selfies of their body / body parts.
I’m not unique in this recommendation. You will find many psychologists recommend the same thing, and it’s for a very good reason – studies show that whilst we have become wise to bodies that are portrayed on print media and the touch ups that they undergo, our self-image still takes a huge hit from social media. One of the theories is that social media is perceived as more “real” than print media plus the comments that often follow the picture cement this perception of reality.
Whatever the case, kick those sites and people to the curb. If you want to change your feelings about yourself then it starts with reducing the symptoms of social media comparison-itis.
This is something I've gone pretty heavily into in my upcoming book, All The Things Every Diet Didn't Tell You. Don't worry, I'll let you know as soon as it's available! If you want to be the first to receive a free extract, just click here.
Wendy Burke (Nutritionist, Naturopath, and PT)