Let’s talk about bodies! With social media sites like Instagram and Facebook blowing up, there has been a very interesting conversation around the topic of body image and societal influences. Of course, people have been influenced by media portrayals of beauty long before these sites existed. However, Instagram and Facebook put the “Average Joe” in the limelight. Now anyone can gain clout through some simple squat videos and bikini pics. With that also comes the “body acceptance” trend we’ve seen where women express that their curves and rolls and all that in between are beautiful.
This week Hayley and Kayli are going to dive into their own relationships with their bodies and how Instagram has influenced that relationship. Check out these episodes of our podcast were we talk about a similar topic! Let’s Face it: We’re Ugly Boys Don’t Buy Us Drinks
I often wonder what it would be like if I grew up in an era where technology wasn’t the center of society. It’s funny to think this era was not too long ago. Just ask your parents; they will tell you all about life without social media and the pressure of an anonymous online crowd. Hell, I might as well ask myself. Growing up I didn’t have these things either but now it’s hard to imagine a life without it. The social online world has its perks, like connecting people from all over the world. However, like all things, it has its downside. Social media is a breeding ground for aesthetic comparison as it is composed of images and perceptions.
As social media gathers information from the masses it conceives its own standard of beauty. The popular trend for women (as of now) is obtaining an hourglass figure, having sharper than knife cheekbones, and filling your lips out of proportion. Because of this obsession, entire careers are built off having a fat ass and a great angle. Since this image is ingrained over and over again it is hard not to feel inadequate when comparing myself to some of these women.
All my life I have been on the slimmer side. It also didn’t help the fact I towered over most of the kids my age until high school. Even though this may not sound terrible, all the boys, and some girls, would make sure I knew just how thin and unattractive I was. A group of boys once said if I gained 20 pounds they would date me. While all the other girls were filling out bras and getting a “womanly shape” I remained as I was: tall and skinny; the exact opposite preteen boys were going for. As I grew older I have gained a little weight and don’t feel as stick-ish as I once did. Even so, you can imagine my disappointment when I found out the new trend was a tiny waist, fat hips, and a large backside. Even though 90% of these women have had surgery it seems this is still what is expected to look and feel beautiful.
One of the most popular solutions for this body image dilemma is to start showcasing “natural” bodies of “real” women. Companies have started using “real” women in their campaigns that are nevertheless handpicked by a group of picky talent agencies. These “real” models still manage to have beauty standards that seem unattainable.
So what’s the solution? I have thought about how we as women, and I’m sure some men, can feel better about ourselves. But then it hit me: no one is responsible for my happiness and self-acceptance. This is not something that can be handed over or bought. Instagram models and big corporations don’t know, or care about, who I am and they never will. It is our job as individuals to ensure we are happy with who we are and our identity. Instead of focusing on everyone on Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube, you should pay some attention to yourself. Maybe if we spent the amount of time we do on social media sites as we did ourselves we might just feel a little better.
I don’t think I’ve ever been comfortable with my body. I think now that I have gained a few extra pounds, I’ve become a lot more self-conscious and insecure but I don’t remember ever feeling confident. Back in the day I used to be pretty athletic. I ran track, played soccer, and was shooting them hoops boy! Even though I was in shape, I just didn’t really like my body or other people looking at it. Wearing a bikini or something that was a little tight always made me uncomfortable. In high school, I wore some jeans that made my booty look poppin! As I walked past a group of boys, all I heard them talk about was my ass. It made me feel so weird that I picked up the pace. It was the unwanted attention that made me uncomfortable. Now, I am super uncomfortable with my body. After high school, I stopped playing sports. College was rough and I just kind of stopped taking care of my body. Now I am at the heaviest I have ever been and the relationship with my body has gotten worst.
Since I have gained weight, I really don’t post on social media anymore. To be fair, I never really liked taking pictures to begin with. I just felt like if tried to be pretty and failed, that would be the most hurtful thing. Like here I am really feeling myself in this picture and it turns out I look hideous. But I have noticed that if I do post a picture or a Snapchat rant, I have a filter on it. I use them as a crutch to make me feel like I look better. Even though I don’t post on social media that much, I’m still looking at everyone else post. Not only is everyone living their best life, which is way better than mine, but they all look better than I do. I don’t follow like super famous people, but I do follow some YouTubers and social media influencers. It makes it easier for me to feel like I’m accomplishing nothing when everyone posts their highlight reels. I can’t blame social media for making me feel bad about how I see my body. Clearly I’ve never felt great about what I looked like. However, social media does make it easier for the average person to gain some sort of following. It just feels like, why not me? Why can’t I do that?
The key to social media is definitely moderation. If it is constantly making you feeling bad, ween it out of your system. It is really easy to compare yourself to others when that’s what you constantly feed yourself. I try to remind myself that everyone is on their own journey. That everyone is going through their own thing. But it doesn’t always work.
Well, after reading that I realized how bleak and sad I sounded. My bad! When it comes to the relationship I have with my body, I’ve come to think about it like any other relationship I have. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take compromise. It’s going to take love. If you’re struggling with your own body issues, I don’t think social media is the place to turn to. In my own personal experiences I’ve never felt better after scrolling through Instagram. Find what does make you happy, that keeps you motivated to reach those goals. It’s going to take work my dude, but shooooooot what doesn’t?