Generally speaking, social media plays a huge part in our lives and is considered an important way to stay connected and relevant within society. Social media usage is associated with many positive benefits such as staying in touch with friends and connecting to the wider community, it also comes with its fair share of negative effects.
In more recent times, research has shown there is a strong link between increased time spent on social media and disordered eating among young women. Appearance related content, particularly Instagram has the ability to have young women compare themselves with what they are exposed to online. This is especially prevalent with fitness influencers pages that are intended to motivate their audience to exercise, however though it can often lead to negative body image and self esteem issues amongst followers. It is important to remember that these images are often cherry picked and edited to create the most attractive image possible. It is not always a real life version.
If you find yourself making comparisons to online personalities, remember this might not be a healthy or sustainable body weight for the long term. They may have dieted down to have this photo shoot, or are at the tail end of a training and nutrition program for a bodybuilding competition. It is important to remember that females aren’t designed to survive on a low body fat percentage and in the long term it can cause serious damage to your metabolic system, fertility and vital organs.
In short, body fat percentage does not dictate health. A skinny looking women on instagram might have an array of health issues going on under the surface. Similarly, an average or slightly overweight woman might be as healthy as they come. Body weight does not indicate overall health and function.
If you find yourself making negative comparisons, or feeling down after scrolling through your feed there are things you can do to help improve your mental health. First and foremost, unfollow any pages that trigger comparisons and negative self talk. You don’t need to be seeing this content each day, especially if it is taking a toll on your mental health.
Secondly, take action and monitor the time spent on social media. Try to limit aimless scrolling and reduce the time spent on applications across the day. Instagram actually allows you to set daily reminders in an attempt to manage your time effectively.
Lastly, find pages that inspire you, make you feel worthy and improve body image and confidence. Make your time on social media worthwhile!
It is important to note that this information is relevant to all demographics and certainly not limited to young women. If you concerned for a friend, brother or family member they may also find this information useful.