Tackling The World of Social Media During Recovery
So much of our life centres around social media. It is an environment that heavily revolves around physical appearance, something that we have all become accustomed to. Therefore unfortunately, we have slowly become desensitised to the affects it is having on our own body image. Studies have continuously shown that those who are exposed to thin and unattainable models over social media suffer with negative body image and body satisfaction, while those who are exposed to ‘body positive’ content over social media develop a optimistic outlook on body appreciation (Slater and Cohen, 2019).
“In today’s digital society we own an existence in two alternate worlds. The online world and the real world. So, while it is so important to look after ourselves and our mental wellbeing in the real world, it is imperative that we do the same in the virtual world.”
With social media being a place that we spend hours a day on, it is our responsibility to make it a healthy and positive place to be. Sit back and think: do the people that I am following send me a positive message? Are they really people that I am interested in? Do I aspire to be them when I am older? If you are struggling to find the reasons to keep them on your social media page, then unfollow.
“You would unfollow unhealthy relationships in the real world, so why would you not do the same on social media?”
So many influencers make their money promoting toxic diet drinks, teeth whitening kits and tools to encourage us to change the way we look. And this is the issue I have with influencers. They have developed a platform where they have the power to ‘influence’ thousands of young boys and girls, and all they are doing is contributing to diet culture and the idea that should aspire to change who we are. For me, a real influencer is someone along the likes of Jameela Jamil or Stevie Blaine. Influencers who are actually using their platforms to raise awareness about the seriousness of eating disorders and to help transform a society to where we are valued for our accomplishments and personality, not by the way we look. It is influencers like these who are presenting to their followers an unfiltered and unmediated world. To prove that not everyone wakes up in the morning, goes for a 10k run and comes home to a smoothie bowl. They reinforce the idea that not everything is perfect. That everyone has bad days. That everyone cries.
“And that everyone, yes EVERYONE, is different and should be loved and respected for the beautiful qualities that make them, them.”
For me, It wasn’t until I was into my recovery from anorexia that I realised that my entire Instagram was full of unrealistic, photoshopped images from celebrities and influencers who promoted nothing other than ‘if you look like this and wear these clothes than you will be accepted.’ I was completely brainwashed by my entire Insta feed, telling me that I should have X size lip fillers and be X number of kg’s. I was sick and tired of what I was exposing myself to and it made my journey of recovery so much harder. I had expectations in my head of what I should look like in order to fit in and would continue further down the hole of anorexia until I felt like I achieved that.
The voices in my head were too strong and too irrational to realise that I had gone too far. However, I knew that I would not put up with these kind of messages in the real world, so why put up with it in the virtual world. On average, people spend nearly 2.5 hours a day on social media (BroadbandSearch.net, 2019). Scrolling. Tweeting. Liking and sharing. So, do yourself a favour and make that a place where you enjoy being.
“Especially during recovery, make that a place which makes you feel inspired, powerful and proud of who you are. You deserve it.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: CLARE Stephenson
Hello, I am Clare! I am a Multi-Media Journalism student and Blogger. I have been in recovery from anorexia, orthorexia and extreme exercise for a year. I use my blog (allyoucaneat.biz) to help raise awareness around the complexity of eating disorders and to help those who have no first or second hand experience in understanding them. My passion also lies in helping empower those around me to feel proud and positive in their bodies. I want to live in a world where we are valued for our personalities and achievements, and not how much we weigh.
Slater, A. and Cohen, R. (2019). 'Body positive' social media content can lift body image and mood, new study finds - UWE Bristol: News Releases. [online] Info.uwe.ac.uk. Available at: https://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/uwenews/news.aspx?id=3924 [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019].
BroadbandSearch.net. (2019). Average Time Spent Daily on Social Media (with 2019 Data). [online] Available at: https://www.broadbandsearch.net/blog/average-daily-time-on-social-media [Accessed 8 Sep. 2019].