Social media and body image will always be inherently linked, even though most of us would prefer that they weren’t. Social media content has changed from the written word of Tweets or Facebook statuses to visual content such as selfies on Instagram and clips on TikTok, meaning we show our faces and bodies to the rest of the world. But with internet trolls and anonymous users commenting on posts about how a person looks, it takes its toll. Self-doubt creeps in and people start to believe the horrible things these trolls are writing under their posts, and then their body image is distorted.
Body image is our personal perception of ourselves physically, and our consequent thoughts towards our bodies. There are four factors that determine our self-perception of our bodies:
- Perceptual (how we perceive ourselves)
- Affective (how we feel about our bodies)
- Cognitive (what we think about our bodies)
- Behavioural (how behave because of our body image)
But how we think about ourselves in all of these ways does not always reflect reality. How we see the self in our mind’s eye can be distorted, and social media is one of the major culprits causing this distortion.
Everyone is aware of what social media is. But recently, these sites have become an even larger part of most of our daily lives (particularly as it’s been our only way of communicating with others during the pandemic). Endless scrolling through post after post, seeing other people dressed up and seemingly happy all the time, makes us feel bad about ourselves. Especially on sites such as Instagram and TikTok that are comprised of photos and videos, making us visually compare ourselves to others and inflict self-judgement. These constant comparisons to social media stars and influencers make us feel negatively about our body image.
Social media is full of these posts: happy and full of life. You are unlikely to see the down days of people’s lives on their accounts. Everyone wants to show the best sides of themselves when they post a picture for the world to see. Therefore, we all have this view that the perfection we see on social media is how other people live their daily lives, and it’s us who aren’t following the latest trends or having the ideal body shape or size (or what society has deemed to be and made us believe is perfect!).
What we all must remember before judging ourselves and letting our self-esteem take a knock based on society’s definition of perfection, that you shouldn’t believe everything you see on social media. Social media itself has become distorted because of this constant striving for perfection. It puts pressure on us, the users, and makes us believe that we can only post content if we meet the criteria that has been set for us.
Post what you want to post. If any users criticise you or your appearance in the comments section, as hard as it is, try to ignore them, then delete the comment and block that person. It’s also important to follow accounts that have a positive effect on your mental health, not ones that make you question your own body image or self-worth; nobody has the right to make you feel any less than what you’re worth.