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Tips for maintaining a healthy body image while using social media

Student Life

By Anuja Thapa

Have you ever found yourself scrolling endlessly on Tiktok or Instagram and unintentionally comparing your body to what you see online?

If so, you are not alone.

Studies show that 88 per cent of women and 65 per cent of men compare their body to images they see on social media.

While social media allows us to express ourselves and improve our relationships, it is also a perilous stage to navigate.

Growing up in the digital age can be detrimental to one’s self-esteem.

Social media has been criticized for taking a toll on our body image by over-exposing users to “idealized” body types.

Scrolling through social media is often the first thing we do when we wake up and the last thing we do before we go to bed, so it’s no surprise that we constantly compare ourselves to other users.

Four types

Body image refers to one’s perspective of their body’s appearance and how it compares to societal standards.

Body image has four aspects to consider: perceptual, affective, cognitive and behavioural.

The perceptual aspect is how one sees themselves.

The affective component of body image is how one feels about the way their body looks: this aspect focuses on appearance, weight, shape and body parts.

Cognitive body image is the way one thinks about their body.

Behavioural body image is the actions one takes that are related to their appearance.

An incriminating internal leak at Facebook revealed that the platform was aware of its negative impact of body image perception on its users, specifically on teenage girls, stating: “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls … Thirty-two per cent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.”

Body image has a direct impact on mental health, specifically on self-esteem.

It’s easy to forget that social media is highly curated and people only show the best parts of themselves.

“It’s normal to feel like you’re drowning in a pool of unrealistic body standards.”

I have fallen victim to the typical influencer’s “what I eat in a day” post and felt instant guilt for eating a cookie or not exercising on a particular day.

It’s crucial to remember that society’s ideal body type is constantly changing. For example, in ancient Greece, Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, is shown with curves.

However, since the 1920s society has demanded (unfairly, might I add) of women an hourglass waist, hip dips and a thigh gap.

In recent years, there has been a rise of body positivity on social media.

It’s definitely comforting to see a wide range of bodies on social media or reminders on how your body shouldn’t simply be reduced to a number on a scale.

Celebrities such as Lili Reinhart and Ashley Graham have slammed society, specifically social media, for its effects on body image and encouraged their followers to embrace themselves.

However, with the constant influx of content, it’s normal to feel like you’re drowning in a pool of unrealistic body standards.

Finding balance

So, here are some tips on how to maintain a healthy body image alongside using social media:

  • Take constant breaks, e.g. have a designated day off social media and try not to use your phone for an hour before you go to bed. I’ve found that adding screen time limits to apps is really helpful.
  • Be selective with who you follow on social media. If you notice anything that is triggering you or making you feel insecure, simply unfollow them.
  • Exercise for your health and to feel good, not as a punishment.
  • Keep in mind that what you see online isn’t always real life.

I’m sure we’ve all felt how difficult it is to balance a healthy body image with the hold that social media has on our lives.

I know it’s easy to get caught up in society’s expectations, but remember to take a deep breath, love your body and treat it well.

The older you will thank you for prioritizing your health above social media trends.


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