Social Media and Body Image

Written by Emily Gargis MS RD LD and Dietetic Intern Mackenzie Harrell, MUSC

Social Media has become a part of our daily routines since it first came about in the early 2000’s. It can be relatively easy to log on and stay glued to our smart devices for what can seem like hours each day, often scrolling for brief satisfaction as we look at other people’s feeds. But what role does social media play in your journey towards healing your relationship with your body and food? Is it harmful or helpful? There are a few things we need to remember when we log on to social media, and if it starts to feel negative or detrimental towards our goals, it’s probably time to implement steps to changing that. 

Don’t Compare Your Behind-the-Scenes With Someone’s Highlight Reel 

Do you ever find yourself comparing your life, body, food, or goals to someone else on social media? It might be good to remember that most of what we see on social media is someone’s highlight reel, not the full story. We can never truly know who that person is or what they might be going through by looking at a screen for a couple of seconds. Let’s strive to not compare ourselves to anyone, but rather look inward at who we are and what we are thankful for. 

“Before and After” Photos

Social media is another place we might see body before and after transformations. These posts can lead to playing the comparison game over different types and levels of “progress”. Most before and after photos seemingly say- this body is better now than the one I had before. FALSE. Your body is GOOD and has always been good. Rather than feel the need to change your body, how can we show kindness and love towards our body instead? After all, we don’t expect our cute furry friends to look alike, so why should we expect this from ourselves? 

Social Media Isn’t All Bad 

Now we know not all of social media is bad. There are many aspects of it which are inspiring, fun, and can build connections/community. But we have to know our boundaries also. You have to know when you specifically need to put the phone down or you may just be at the start of this journey, but if you feel like it is harming your mental health, put it away and do something good for yourself. Practice self-compassion, journal your emotions, or do mindful exercise. The phone will still be there when you get back! 

Steps We Can Take To Make Social Media Better For Ourselves 

  • Unfollow or unfriend unhelpful accounts 
  • Follow accounts that lift you up and are encouraging 
  • Turn off or block unhelpful hashtags or similar posts 
  • Limit the amount of time you spend on social media each day 
  • Schedule times to use social media, as well as times to step away 
  • Be clear and intentional about why we are logging onto social media platforms 
  • Be sure to express gratitude towards our body – practice mindfulness
  • Spend time with people offline