Were you one of those kids whose Mom would drag you, begrudgingly, to the grocery store? Maybe your parent would hype you up with the promise of getting your favorite treat or you’d be the one who would get to pick out a side for dinner. Ooo, very exciting. But perhaps you didn’t care so much about the food as much as the chance to pick out some reading material. Huh? You might be thinking, reading material at the grocery store? Magazines, we’re talking about magazines.
The media landscape has changed drastically since the advent of smartphones, searchable media hubs, and social platforms like Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Individuals, especially young people, are no longer sporadically exposed to altered images of what the country views as ideal beauty. Today, global images that have been photoshopped and filtered numerous times over are at everyone’s fingertips. Similarly, unaltered and unapologetically real images are more available for consumption now than ever before. So how does all this affect body image? BAWDY looks at the dichotomy that is social media and body image.
Body Image is in the Eye of the Beholder
When experts talk about the media's effect on body image, it can really be boiled down to a Rorschach Test or, basically, people will see what they want to see. If an individual is drawn to the overly filtered, unrealistic images with nipped waists and smoothed skin, they will continue to be fed and consume this kind of content. Alternatively, if someone appreciates unapologetically real images that include cellulite and stretch marks, they too will have a steady stream of this available imagery for consumption.
OK, let’s start with the bad news because everyone loves to end on a good note. If you’ve had the chance to watch The Social Dilemma, a documentary recently released on Netflix which explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, you might have seen the statistics on how the astronomical rise of self-harm, eating disorders, and suicides in females coincide with the advent and availability of social media. Yikes. But how does media affect body image negatively?
Firstly, unrealistic images give us a standard we cannot reach. Previously, these images were solely of models and celebrities, or individuals who possess a given perception of unattainability. Social media, coupled with accessibility to filtering and photo editing apps, allows our peers to seemingly achieve these elusive standards. A recent study found that when we perceive our peers as more attractive than us, our self-esteem drops, resulting in a negative body image.
The good news, and it’s very good news, is that you’re in control! Yass, queens and kings, you control what kind of content you consume. And there’s a lot of content out there that promotes positive body image, self love and acceptance, and being confident in your skin and body. Celebrities from Demi Lovato and Danielle Brooks to Kesha and Hilary Duff post unedited and candid photos of themselves. It’s not all about looks, though, they accompany these posts with captions expressing appreciation for their freckles, stretch marks, cellulite, and muscles. High f’ing five.
How to Cultivate Those Good Feels
OK, so now that we know we’re in control (which often doesn’t feel like it), what are some ways we can promote a positive body image and self-worth?
- Make social media work for you: social media platforms deliver content to you based on your behavior, or what you engage with most often. Therefore, in order to curate a body-positive feed, try following some positive role models and unfollowing or blocking individuals who cause you to doubt yourself.
- Be grateful: your body is amazing! It allows us to do things like walk our dogs, play with our kids - heck it makes kids - and takes us to socially distant brunches where we laugh uncontrollably with friends. Our bodies are a hell of a lot more than a number on a tag so think about what your body does for you each day that you’re grateful for.
- Get moving: physical activity isn’t just good for our body, it’s good for our minds and emotions as well. With consistent activity you can positively transform everything from your butt to your brain.
- Love yourself: hydrate, moisturize, eat well, stretch...care for yourself! Love, when in a relationship, isn’t just about words or thoughts, actions count. Take time for acts of love for yourself, you never know, you might even end up with a killer sense of confidence and glowing skin.
The Bottom Line
You are the editor of your life. You get to keep all the beautiful, positive things you want while cutting out everything that doesn’t serve you or the life you want to have. And be unapologetic in these decisions because, good vibes only. Let us know how you edit the media around you by sharing with our community @bawdybeauty.