If you’ve ever seen the words ‘social media’ and ‘body image’ together in a headline, chances are they were accompanied by a scary statistic about how platforms like Instagram can make us feel bad about our bodies.
While there is some research to back this up (especially when it comes to comparison between peers), it’s important for us to know that this isn’t the full story.
Social media is what we make of it. As consumers, we choose what we fill our newsfeeds with and how we use these platforms. Following accounts that portray a very specific beauty ideal and comparing our bodies to others is a sure-fire way to make us feel bad about the way we look.
Following more inspiring body positive accounts, reading self-compassion quotes and even trying your hand at creative self-portraits could all help to encourage a more positive relationship between you and your body.
Widen your view of ‘beauty’ with body positive accounts
The world around us is a pretty diverse place. The problem is, our social media feeds often don’t reflect this. We might fall into a bubble, following a certain type of person (usually people who look like us). We might follow celebrities, influencers or even companies whose job is to sell us their brand of lifestyle.
When we diversify our feeds, we get a taste of other cultures, other experiences and other body types. The body positivity community is full of inspiring people, each proving that you don’t need to look one certain way to be happy.
A study published in SAGE journals found that when young women aged 18-30 were exposed to body positive posts, they experienced improvements in positive mood, body satisfaction and body appreciation (relative to thin-ideal and appearance-neutral posts).
What to do: Give your feeds a refresh. Unfollow or mute anyone who makes you feel bad about your body image and seek out more positive and diverse accounts to follow. We love @bodyposipanda, @tess.daly and @gracefvictory.
Encourage self-love by reading inspirational quotes
It may sound a little cliche, but reading empowering quotes can have an effect on the way you view your body. A 2017 study looking into the effects of ‘fitspiration’ compared to self-compassion quotes found that the self-compassion quotes had a positive impact on both body satisfaction and mood.
A good tip here is to find quotes that speak to you. If you find yourself reading along while rolling your eyes, you’re not likely to gain much from it. Seek out words that you can relate to and that genuinely inspire you.
What to do: Search for accounts that encourage self-compassion in a voice that feels relatable.
Gain acceptance of your own body by taking creative self-portraits
Whether you’re striving to reach a place of body neutrality, or are after full-blown self-love, the first step is to accept your body as it is. If you struggle with this, you may find you avoid looking at yourself in pictures or even avoid mirrors. Getting to know your body, as it is right now is key.
One way to do this is by taking self-portraits. Instead of a standard selfie though, try to get creative. Take pictures of different parts of your body at first – even shadows and reflections in windows can be a good starting point. Then work your way up to incorporating your whole body. Play with props like flowers and books, or use unusual angles and perspectives. This can help you accept your body and see it in a new light.
What to do: Experiment with self-portraits, get inspired by searching ‘creative self-portraits’ on Pinterest. Bonus points for posting your photos on Instagram!