Have you ever been scrolling through apps like Facebook, Tik Tok, or Instagram and seen someone that makes you feel less beautiful? This happens to more people than you can imagine, and that is why a lot of people throughout the world struggle with negative body image and eating disorders.
This happens in many different aspects of society, whether it’s around friends, in school, at the doctor’s office, on social media, or even shopping for clothes online. It has been known for a while that, especially on social media, there are so many unrealistic standards for beauty that women still try to meet, but sometimes, they are physically not possible.
Everyone’s body and mind are different, and when you try to copy and paste someone’s body on your own, it can cause serious mental and physical problems and can leave you with more than just a negative view of your body. Eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorders, and more are correlated with these high standards in our society.
There are many ways that society implements these standards and contributes to negative body image, here are a few ways how.
Friends and colleagues around you usually don’t mean to do it, but it may be inevitable that one may comment that you “look good today” or “look like you’ve lost weight”. With these comments, it may sound like they’re trying to help, but experiencing this first hand, I know that for some it makes you overthink how you look or have previously looked.
Although they don’t mean harm, doctors can have serious effects on you mentally, although they mean no harm. Doctors want to help you, but their standards for weight in relation to your height isn’t the only thing that measures if you are under or overweight. I’m sure I am not the only one who has experienced this, but as a child, I developed a lot quicker than other kids. Although the doctor was trying to keep me healthy, as a younger girl, I was always told to watch my weight, weigh myself and watch what I’m eating. What I noticed was that though I was a completely healthy weight, very active, and happy, I was never happy with how I looked, and always weighed myself and viewed certain foods as “bad” and “good”. These comments have had lasting effects on me.
The list goes on and on when it comes to the effects that social media has on your mental health. Although a lot of it can be really amazing, beneficial information, expecting yourself to look like the “natural” supermodel or “candid” pose is so difficult to reach and leads so many people with a feeling of failure. It has been found that when people go on social media “cleanses” they find themselves less worried about not only themselves but what other people look like and are doing. I am a firm believer that the brain isn’t meant to see and watch everyone else’s life. It makes one feel like they are missing out on something, or that their life isn’t good enough. These unrealistic expectations aren’t always natural or real, as well.
Last but definitely not least, online shopping. While clothing websites have been improving their diversity in different body types and sizes, there are still many websites that only have specific body types, which makes it really challenging to buy clothes online, for you don’t know how they are going to look on you. And on top of this, if it comes in the mail and you try it on and it doesn’t fit as it fits on the model, it leaves a lot of people disappointed, although there shouldn’t have been that unrealistic expectation in the first place.
With all of these things in society that impact our body image and eating disorders, it is easy to get discouraged. However, besides trying to ignore it, there are things that you can do to be proactive about these things. When it comes to social media, unfollowing those accounts that make you feel less of yourself can be really beneficial for your mental health. Along with this, try not to always start your day going straight onto these apps and seeing what everyone else looks like and is doing. To avoid using social media as much, when you wake up, try to journal or do some yoga rather than scrolling through these apps. Those small steps can lead you to feel so much happier and more confident in yourself.