#BoPo: How to Curate Your Social Media Feed for More Body Positivity

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If you’ve ever killed time by browsing through Instagram mindlessly, even for a few minutes, you might have noticed that it left you feeling considerably less good about yourself than when you first logged on.

If that’s the case, you are not alone.

In 2016, a team of Australian researchers confirmed a link between spending more time on social media platforms (or engaging with more appearance-related content on social media) and greater body image concerns and disordered eating amongst young men and women. Because social media relies mostly on visuals, it reinforces our focus on appearance for validation. It also encourages self-objectification, the idea that the way our bodies look (for others to view) is more important than the way they function and operate to support our larger goals in life. Couple this with the omnipresence of a (largely unattainable) thin ideal and you end up with increased body dissatisfaction, which in turn leads to more anxiety, depression, lower self-esteem, and a higher risk of developing eating disorders and social impairment (not showing up in real life because we feel we don’t look good enough to be seen).

A lot of it is also related to our natural, human tendency to compare. We are aware that comparing ourselves to people appearing in traditional media, like magazines, makes little sense because celebrities and models featured have been subjected to heavy editing and photoshopping – on top of having the support of trainers, makeup artists, and professional photographers. But when it comes to social media, it’s a different ballgame.

Our social media feeds typically feature many people that we tend to consider as our peers, or people that we see as influential. Despite appearing as genuine and authentic as possible, images posted on social media undergo a strict selection (think how many attempts you need to post that perfect selfie), are heavily retouched and largely edited, or are staged. But that’s something we struggle to record, because when our peers appear to have it better than us, we just can’t help but feel inadequate.

All of this confirms how crucial it is to develop self-awareness and a deeper consciousness surrounding the social-media content we consume.

The good news is that we can also tailor this content to benefit our mental health and open up to virtual communities that are more nurturing of our self-acceptance goals. Indeed, a recent study from the UK’s Centre for Appearance Research found that women exposed to #fitspo images reported poorer mood and enthusiasm when compared to women exposed to images featuring self-compassion quotes.

It’s high time to replace the #fitspo with #bopo and curate your social media feed to leave you feeling empowered instead of deflated. Here are three simple ways to do this.

1

Every time an account showing up in your feed leaves you feeling inadequate or less than, unfollow or mute it.

Be ruthless about it. If unsure, ask yourself who profits off your insecurity right now. Stay critical of the messaging being sent out by influencers or celebrities.

2

Look to open your social media feed to a wider range of bodies.

Increase your visual exposure to bodies that are typically underrepresented in traditional media: overweight bodies, people of color, and various genders and abilities. Open up to what these accounts have to say about discrimination, justice, visibility, and representation. The more exposure you get to (typically under-advertised) bodies, the better you’ll become at recognizing that body diversity is simply human. Over time, seeing beauty in a wide range of bodies can also help you learn to appreciate your own. A more diverse social media feed will also foster a sense of community and bring moral support during your “body positive” journey, especially if you lack such influences in real life. In your posts, keep challenging the view that bodies are objects to look at, and start following accounts that promote critical thinking and more social justice. Below are a few recommendations, and you can find many more by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Every time I get my period (which is still not every month) I make an effort to celebrate my bloat… I know, weird, right? Why would I celebrate feeling uncomfortable, feeling like my hormones are out of control and being overwhelmed with emotions that came out of nowhere? • Here is my why: I lost my period for years due to over-exercise and endless dieting. Having it back now means that my body feels safe enough, well-fed enough and taken care of enough to bring on the ol’ bloat. Go body! • Of course it doesn’t feel amazing to be bloated – whether it’s due to our period or not – but a little change in perspective can go a long way. I try and see bloating as information my body is sending to me, without attaching my self worth to it… It doesn’t mean I have failed at taking care of myself. It doesn’t mean that my day has to be bad because of it. It’s information. Nothing more, nothing less. Are you with me? 🙌🏻 #celebratethebloat . . . _____________________________________________ #bodyacceptance #selflove #selfcare #hypothalamicamenorrhea #bodyimage #bekindtoyourself #edrecovery #honoryourbody #recoveryispossible #bodylove

A post shared by Rini Frey (@ownitbabe) on

 

 

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DON’T BE SO SOFT. . Is it just me, or does it feel like we are constantly trying to strip women of their softness? . That in our quest as women to be equal, respected, successful, and strong, we subconsciously and consciously try to rid ourselves of the softness that makes us unique in an effort to mimic the masculine? We’re told things like: . Don’t cry, it’s weak and unprofessional. Don’t be too kind, you’ll get taken advantage of. Don’t reveal an inch of skin, no one will take you seriously. *my favorite* Don’t be a pussy. . It’s ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ taken to every possible extreme. Any ounce of Feminine is associated with softness, which we think is weakness. So we rid ourselves of any trace of it. We work to diminish any squish on our bodies, we hide in shame when our eyes fill with tears. We learn how to ‘man up’ enough times and before we know it, we rid ourselves of any trace of womanhood in an attempt to be accepted. . In psychology there are ‘FEMININE’ and ‘MASCULINE’ archetypes (some call them ‘energies’). Both exist in EVERYONE, but in today’s world we elevate one while we abuse the other. We revere logic, cold thinking, analytics, and aggression while we shy away from and dismiss emotions, presence, acceptance, and empathy. . It is a form of oppression that devastates Women AND Men, resulting in a world that preys on the Feminine and idolizes the Masculine. And, Ironically, it is exactly the traits we are told to suppress in order to succeed that the world so desperately needs right now: Understanding, emotional awareness, embodiment, EMPATHY. The world needs soft. BE SOFT. Tell me, what does that look like for you?👇🏻

A post shared by Jessica Rothley (Demasi), EPC (@whollyhealed) on

3

If all else fails, carve social media breaks in your routine.

Do this as an act of self-care and spend less time online, especially when you feel emotionally vulnerable.


Florence Gillet is an Eating Psychology Coach, a ‘Health At Every Size’ practitioner and the founder of www.beyondbodyimage.com . By opening up about her experience with eating disorder recovery and low self-esteem, Florence hopes to spread awareness about pervasive fatphobia, self-acceptance, mental health issues and raising body-confident kids in a culture engulfed in body hate. 

 

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