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Is Social Media Making Me Feel Bad About My Body?

The truth about social media

The world is at the tip of our fingers, which means comparing ourselves to others can be a slippery slope. The problem with comparison on social media, especially when it relates to our bodies, is that so much of what we are seeing is perfectly curated, or even fake. Social media is often someone else’s “highlight reel”.

People can easily edit photos and videos with apps which means people rarely post an unflattering angle of their bodies on social media. People choose what gets posted, so of course they are going to post a photo or video of themselves where the lighting is “just right” and the angle is “the most flattering”. It is so easy to get caught up in comparing our body size, shape, color, texture etc. to someone else’s on social media because it’s all we see when we are scrolling through. 

Is social media really that bad?

It’s not that social media is “bad” – it’s that it’s out of our control. Yes, you can control who you follow or don’t follow, but we also get posts that we never set out to see in the first place. On Instagram you have the “Explore” page, Tik Tok features the “For You” feed, and of course, all platforms liberally use suggested and sponsored posts and paid advertisements designed to reach specific target markets. Even the people we choose to follow can post about whatever they like – regardless of whether it’s what we signed up to see, forcing us to give up our control of what we’re taking in. Even for the most confident person in the room, comparisons creep into our minds and create doubt. We see how many likes a post gets, the comments on a post, or how many followers someone has and compare our own results.

For many, these factors start to determine how pretty, relevant, or successful we think we are. But what we think about ourselves, is not based on what the reality actually is. Social media has us convinced that we need to constantly be picking our appearance apart because it is not “good enough”.

Your body type is not a trend, but social media makes it seem that way. 

So what do I do now?

As mentioned previously, social media is not all bad. Like anything, we need to set healthy boundaries before a good thing has negative side effects. Before you rush to delete your social media accounts, there are steps you can take to make social media a more positive space in your life. 

If you feel like your energy is depleted after spending time on social media, or you notice yourself checking the mirror a little more often, or maybe feeling down about the way you look, start by checking who you follow on social media. 

  1. Start by unfollowing accounts or people that make you feel bad about yourself after seeing their photos. Start following accounts that are representative of your body. Here are just a few accounts to get you started, but I encourage you to find accounts on your own that represent YOU and make YOU feel good.
  2. Start setting a social media timer. The American Psychological Association suggests that reducing social media consumption by 50% can show significant improvement in the way we view our body and overall appearance. Set a social media timer through the settings app on your phone to a reasonable and achievable limit to avoid overconsuming content.
  3. Practice If-firmations. If – firmations can feel a little more hopeful and believable than affirmations. Try these out the next time you notice that “icky” feeling comes up after scrolling social media for too long: 
  • What if I appreciated all that my body does for me?
  • What would it feel like to love the skin I’m in?
  • What if I tried speaking kinder towards my body, just for one day?

At the end of the day, remember that how you look is the least interesting thing about you.

“Stop trying to fix your body, it was never broken” – Eve Ensler

Picture of Mackenzie Stanke
Mackenzie Stanke

Mackenzie works with clients with anxiety, depression, and self-esteem issues using CBT and Person Centered methods to create a safe space for her clients to express themselves and heal. In her free time she can be found shopping for new home decor, cooking and going on long walks with her partner and her dog Lexi.

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Searchlight Counselling provides in-person and virtual therapy for individuals and couples in Burnaby, Vancouver, and across British Columbia. Specializing in BIPOC & 2SLGBTQIA+.