Social media got you feeling crappy about your body? You’re not alone – research proves that social media makes us feel less satisfied. Which is why I’m sharing a step-by-step guide on how to make your social media feed more body positive.
The average person spends two hours each day on social media. That’s over five years of your life spent on social.
For teenagers, it’s even more pronounced. According to a recent report, teens spend about NINE HOURS A DAY on social media. That’s more time than sleep, school, seeing their family, etc. For children ages 8-12 years old, they spend about six hours a day on social media.
Given the sheer amount of time spent on social, it’s no wonder that social media influences how we feel, think and act. And studies show it’s not making us feel any better about ourselves. One study a few years ago found that the more time spent on Facebook, the less happy and satisfied people felt. And we can thank the comparison trap for this. Social media only offers a narrow glimpse into people’s lives, showcasing the positive things, which makes us feel more isolated and less than.
And more specifically, social media is affecting the way we feel about our bodies and our relationship to food. New research shows that women are most heavily influenced about how they feel about their bodies by social media compared to other mediums. And 88% of women report comparing their bodies to other bodies on social media, with half reporting the comparison is unfavorable. And if you look at the types of content trending on social media, these statistics should not be surprising. Before and after pictures promoting weight loss, trending hashtags about fad diets like #IIFYM, unrealistic and unhealthy fitness portrayals like #fitspo, and the list goes on.
This is why if you are struggling with your body image and/or your relationship to food, you need to clean out your social media feeds.
And if you’re like “ahhh but if I stop following these diet gurus and thin influencers, I’ll lose my motivation to lose weight,” you’re not alone. This is a really common train of thought. But the reality is when we feel bad about ourselves because of comparitis, we’re really not in a motivated state to take care of ourselves and invest in health-promoting behaviors. If we can purge the accounts that make us feel bad, we’ll be in a better position to choose self-care.
When you follow people who align with your values and lift you up, you’ll be more motivated to invest in health-promoting behaviors.
To clean out your social feeds, you’ll start by unfollowing those people that make you feel worse about your body and then you’ll follow new accounts that are more in line with your values.
WHO TO UNFOLLOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
- Anyone who is talking about diets, weight loss, “lifestyle programs” like Whole 30, detoxes, cleanses, juicing, etc.
- Anyone who is talking about dieting under the guise of health and wellness – i.e. self care to change your body size is not self care
- Anyone who posts before/after pictures or pictures of their bodies that reinforce the socially acceptable thin ideal
- Anyone who promotes “clean eating” or posts pictures of only salads and smoothie bowls
- Anyone who posts their unrealistic workout routines and pictures of themselves “killing it” at the gym
- Anyone who you compare yourself to that makes you feel worse about yourself
Take your time, one social media account at a time, and unfollow the shit out of people. I promise you’ll feel a sense of freedom. Kind of like when you clean out your closet and get rid of all the clothes that no longer serve you, either because they no longer fit, have gone out of style, or you haven’t worn it in five years. You know how you just feel lighter after you clean out your closet? You’ll feel the same way cleaning out your social feeds. In the same way that you create space for new things when you clean out your closet, you’ll create space for new people to follow who align better with your values.
I’m compiling a list below of accounts to follow, on Instagram specifically, who promote messages of intuitive eating, health at every size, body positivity and body liberation. I think it’s really important to diversify our social media feeds with people of all races, genders, ethnicities, sizes, sexual orientation, and ability levels. By containing your feed to only include people that look like you or that look like how you want to look, that only perpetuates this narrow-minded, patriarchal definition of how we’re “supposed to look”. Being exposed to bodies of all colors, shapes and sizes will help to challenge some of your preconceived notions around people in larger bodies. It will help to shift your fat phobia. I’m not saying it will take you from body hatred to body love overnight; but it likely will create a subtle shift in how you perceive your own body and the bodies of those around you.
The first list is comprised of dietitians and therapists who are promoting anti-diet messages rooted in intuitive eating, HAES and body positivity. The second list is comprised of fat activists who are promoting body positivity and body liberation.
Intuitive Eating/Health At Every Size:
Body Positive/Body Liberation:
This is certainly not an exhaustive list so please feel free to mention others to follow in the comments section. Notice how you feel the first few days with your new feed. What’s your mood like? How do you feel about yourself? How do you feel about your body? Notice any small, subtle shifts that may have taken place. Again, cleaning out your social media feed is not a magic solution to heal your relationship with your body but it’s certainly a valuable tool.
Tell me, have you ever done a social media clean up? How did you feel after? If you follow these steps above, let me know what subtle shifts you noticed for yourself.
My Instagram doesn’t have any of the characteristics you listed of social media to avoid. It’s about finding the happy place between delicious, healthy and easy (in terms of recipes). I do mention grams of carbs every now and then because many of my followers have prediabetes or diabetes. But I NEVER mention anything about weight loss. I am a member of my local HAES group too. Just wanted to share my IG address just in case: @therecipedoctor
Thank you for sharing! These accounts listed don’t focus on recipes but instead on body positivity and intuitive eating.
I’m excited to see this featured on Today’s Dietitian – usually a pretty weight-centric source of information. Thank you for being the voice pushing through the noise! Keep up the good work.
I did a social media purge a few months back and started adding more diverse accounts. I felt lighter when I cleaned out the junk, but sometimes feel the weight (no pun intended) of following these radical dietitians because that means no break from activism. This has helped me reevaluate how often I want to be on social media or why I am even going there in the first place, which has been super helpful for mental health.
Thanks for sharing that this was on Today’s Dietitian! I would’ve had no clue! I have a client who shared similar sentiments about being flooded with activism when she logs on and she ended up unfollowing a lot of radical influencers in the bopo, HAES world because she felt she was in a good place with what she believed in and didn’t need to be flooded with it on a regular basis. As I always say, YOU DO YOU! You know what’s best for your mental health <3.
I am sharing this everywhere. Wonderful and refreshing post!!!
Thanks so much for sharing, Amanda!
Fantastic article! This is such an important topic for people of ALL ages! 🙂
Absolutely! None of us are immune to how social media can make us feel.
What a great topic! I think it’s so important to follow accounts that make you feel good and ditch the ones that get you in comparison/shame mode!
This is totally something I’ve been needing to do! Thanks for sharing!
Yes! Sometimes I’m shocked about what pops up on my feed, but the best thing for me is to clear house when it’s not aligning. Thanks for sharing Kara!
For sure! A simple move but absolutely a game changer.
This is great! It’s so important that the social media we consume is uplifting.
Couldn’t agree more!
I really love this post Kara! You’re so right, if you choose the “right” people for you, social media can be an enjoyable, educational and up-lifting experience!
Totally, Sara! Thanks!