Can Fashion Influenced Social Media Be As Unhealthy as Pornography?
My self-esteem or more exactly my body confidence has taken a hit recently. Sure, I slap on a happy face and put pretty pictures on the internet. But, after evenings scrolling social media, I realized I was going to bed every night with a pit in my stomach feeling like I could barf up every shred of body acceptance and self-esteem I’ve worked so hard to build. It got me to wondering if fashion influenced social media is unhealthy for my self-esteem or do I just need to go on a diet? The answer to both is YES, but maybe not the way you think.
This is a long post and if you read to the end you’re either gonna love me or hate me. No, it’s not because I’m using the “F-word“… FAT. But I’m going to spill about something that has been bugging me for a while now. I’m really not sure how to say it without sounding like a whiny-butt so here goes:
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Is It Just Me or Do People Love Skinny People More than Fat People?
Why is it, if someone says they’re on a diet or has lost any weight at all or puts a photo of themselves half naked on the internet or in real life for that matter, they get a bazillion “likes”? Maybe I’m just jealous, but…
No wonder the average Jane who is struggling with her weight or who simply don’t have the genetics or the time to be super buff-n-stuff feels less-than when comparing herself with those images. You’re likely saying, “We shouldn’t compare ourselves with other women.” You’re right. But, we all do it! (If you don’t, tell me how you manage it.)
I’ve noticed that the most popular posts seem to be those who over-sexualize themselves either in their attire (or lack thereof) and/or poses, those who are touting their weight-loss success or are embarking on a get-fit plan. And I’m not just talking about women my size or larger who may actually need to lose weight. I’m talking about skinny women getting skinnier.
Social Media Contributes to Body Dysmorphia
In these instances, are we, yes we, the “like-ers” reinforcing their body dysmorphia by “you go girl-ing” their hollow checked selfies? Is their “cheering section” perpetuating this idea in their head that if skinny is good, skinnier is better?
And, is it further instilling in us fluffy girls that there is something less attractive about being bigger?
Don’t Value Yourself Through the Diet Industry’s Eyes (or Anyone Else’s)
Every diet guru and their brother are literally banking on us feeling horrible about ourselves. There are new fad programs going around, and most aren’t even new at all.
One popular plan is a regurgitated carb cycling diet very similar to the Fast Metabolism Diet. They’ve only added intermittent fasting to the regimen and wrapped it up in a new bow with a different name and an abundance of slim online influencers marketing it for them. This is only one of a slew of diet protocols being branded as THEE way to health and happiness.
The diet industry barrages us with the idea that fat = unhappy. They’re counting on it all the way to the bank with billions of dollars. I know of one everyday Jane with no degree in nutrition or health nor medical experience who created and branded a “program” that mimics, to the letter, another popular diet method. They then created meal plans and sold them for a reasonable amount of money at first. Then, based on few successes, tried to pass the program off for over $150 a month (no food was supplied)! Weight Watchers doesn’t even charge that much!
If It Were Truly About Being Healthy
I have no problem with making choices that help us get healthy. However, I’ve watched as thin women, who may really only need to tone up, talk about needing to lose weight to feel happy. I’ve seen them get thinner and thinner and continue to spread the dangerous message that this is what we might need to do too. It’s a lifestyle you know. ;-(
Right about now you might be saying, “But Paula, you’ve admitted your struggle with body acceptance, maybe you need to try one of these programs.” Maybe so, but I won’t. Why?
I Was THAT Skinny Girl Getting Skinnier
As they say, “been there done that”. I bought into their thought process, and I’m still trying to shake it. I was THAT GIRL, on every diet who thought if only she could get down under into the next 10’s spot, it would be enough. I have religiously power walked in the rain, cold, and even once in a blizzard. My internal clock had woken up on vacations, before my family during the wee hours of the morning in a dark hotel room and laid blankets on the yucky floor so I could do a Pilates routine (or what my boys called, “Mom’s Farting Exercises”). I made diet and exercise an obsession.
And, I was her, the skinny girl standing next to her fat friend saying, “I just HAVE to lose this weight”. Yes, once upon a time, I was part of the problem too. But the tables have turned and now I’m the fat friend. And you know what?
This is really a post about saying that the perfection we ourselves chase, “like”, and envy, has made it so the human body in it’s unadulterated, unfiltered form seems less-than.
Being overweight is not the worst thing in the world like I thought it would be. Life happens and there were bigger things to worry about than my weight. Would I like to be thinner? Yeah, but there are other things that have to get fixed first, sleep and hormones are the top on my “fix-it” list.
Ladies, this is getting really emotional for me and my thoughts are rabbit trailing. I don’t want you to think this is a post about justifying my overweight body.
This is really a post about saying that the perfection we ourselves chase, “like”, and envy, has made it so the human body in it’s unadulterated, unfiltered form seems less-than. We don’t see a fluffy, dimpled body as beautiful as we see the slim, smooth body.
Is Fashion Influenced Social Media Like Porn?
Once upon a time, before the prevalence of social media, we weren’t inundated with images of all the “everyday beautiful (skinny) people” except those celebrities on screen and in print. But now we’re viewing these images possibly for hours a day.
Maybe it’s kind of like porn. (Oh goodness, did I say that on the internet?) When someone is constantly looking at pornographic images, they develop a distorted impression of not only how a normal body looks but what true intimacy is about. The more those unrealistic, sexual images are viewed, the more they begin to distort a persons thought processes which can lead to all sorts of personal issues and relationship breakdowns.
The same is true with all the beautiful, thin and probably retouched bodies we’re visually consuming online. We like them because they’re pretty. And maybe we like them because they offer us hope beyond our current reality. But the more of those type of images we see, the more distorted we can become about our own body.
Could the constant (social media) diet of perfect bodies with tans and thigh gaps be ruining the relationships we have with our own bodies?
You won’t see me strutting around in a bikini with my rolls hanging over the top to prove any “body positive” points or to garner “likes”. However, I did decide to post these photos even after I showed them to The Hubs and said I didn’t know if I could post these “unflattering” shots of my drumstick-thigh looking like it’s ready to sag at any minute (Eeks! He kind of agreed).
But these photos are for me, for you and for our sons, daughters, and grandchildren.
Last year I was featured in SheSpark magazine and was asked why I pose in bathing suits when other people shied away from it… I said, “the more we see imperfect, unretouched bathing beauties in swimsuits we would realistically wear, the more that becomes the vision of accepted beauty in our own mind’s eye.”
Picking Myself Up
It stings a little to be putting myself out there at this size. The sting is even greater when my already skinny friends and sisters talk about their diets and how much weight they’ve lost. To be honest, I’m not sure if it burns so bad because I’m envious or because I’m sad because their happiness is size dependent. But, if they’re bodies are unacceptable to them, what must they think about me?
I might get down in the dumps on occasion, but I have to ask myself this: Would I get discouraged if I saw more “me’s” represented in a beautiful way? How much more lovely and valued would I feel if current culture saw bodies like mine as beautiful? I’d like to think all our body images would be better for it.
If Social Media Is Ruining Your Self-Esteem, Here’s THEE Diet to Try
I’m not telling us to unfriend or unfollow all the skinny peeps, but if these images are bringing us down, instead of trying a fad diet, we’ll feel better a whole lot faster if we go on a social media diet.
Just like with food, in social media, moderation is key. There’s a little room for treats but mostly feed yourself the things that visually nourish your heart and mind.
And definitely limit or eliminate social media consumption after dinner. You’ll only go to bed with “heartburn” of a different variety. 😉
I’m Still Figuring Out How to Deal with Certain Negative Triggers
And I’m at a loss as to what we’re supposed to do about our real-life friends and family who obsess so much about all things diet/workout/weight related it makes you want to shove fists full of donuts in your mouth while lovingly rubbing your stomach right in front of them. I guess you can do as I do until I come up with a better solution – swallow that lump in your throat, put on a full of confidence facade while going to a happier place in your mind.
I hope I didn’t come across as a “mean girl”. I’m definitely passionate about the subject but mean wasn’t my intention.
Most of how we think about diet and weight are based on what we’ve seen and heard. So, if we want perceptions of average bodies to change, it starts with each one of us and how we talk and think about our bodies.
Let’s Talk Nice To Ourselves and To Each Other
Well, do you hate me? I hope not but if you have any thoughts on the matter, let’s open up a friendly dialogue.
Keep shining bright, living happy and nourishing yourself with all the good things you need.
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