New Feed, Who Dis?
Studies show the average person spends about 2 hours per day on social media.
The first thing most of us grab in the morning is our phone. We mindlessly scroll through our newsfeed on public transportation, as we're bored at work, while we eat meals alone, during television commercials, after the shower in our towels laying in bed avoiding responsibility, and the last thing we prime our minds with before we fall asleep.
2 hours suddenly sounds real easy when you break it down. As we gaze into our phones, we are inundated with messages, images, friends' highlight reels, and celebrities' luxurious lives.
We may think of social media as simply a way to keep up with friends, family, and life in general. The thing is, it influences not only how we see the world, but how we see ourselves.
The Fiji TV Study:
Harvard researchers studied a group of high school girls from Fiji a month after satellites brought television into the country. Before television, eating disorders were not even a thing in Fiji. In fact, it was the norm for women to be robust, it was a compliment to hear "You've gained weight," and it was actually an insult to have 'skinny' legs.
Just a few years after the introduction of the television, everything changed and eating disorders were on the rise. These high school girls didn't want to look like their mothers anymore, but rather like the women they saw on Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place.
"Girls who said they watched television 3 or more nights a week in the survey were 50 percent more likely to describe themselves as ''too big or fat'' and 30 percent more likely to diet than girls who watched television less frequently."
I truly believe as we shift away from television and move towards social media, these tendencies will only get worse. Instead of watching a couple episodes on television per day, we can constantly be on our phones.
As I became more aware of intuitive eating, an anti-diet perspective, health at any size, and body neutrality, changing my newsfeed had one of the largest impacts on accepting my body. I outlined below some of the things I did to change my newsfeed to make sure it was inclusive, and left me feeling empowered.
1. If it doesn't bring Good Vibez, Unfollow that Shit
Before I get into this, I want to make it clear that this doesn't have to mean unfollowing anyone that is thin. Just like curvy is a body type, thin is a body type. As we shift to a more body accepting society, we have to make sure we don't skinny-shame either.
Okay so for me this meant unfollowing anyone that didn't leave me feeling inspired, empowered, or that I wouldn't want to spend my time around IRL. I felt awkward at first, especially if I have been following these people for a while, but it's okay. Self-care is not selfish.
If someone only posted selfies that I could tell were photo shopped, or if they shamed people for eating food that wasn't deemed "clean," I unfollowed. Most of the time I can just be aware of comments like this and not unfollow them, but if they are triggering, they gotta get the boot.
2. Fill the void with positivity + inclusivity
I specifically chose the word inclusivity because I think once someone hears the term "body accepting," they solely think of plus-size or curvy women. While this can be true, and while we still need more of it in our culture, it's not all of it. For example, I started only following plus-sized models. All of a sudden, I found myself wondering why I didn't have more of a curvy shape, or that the curves I did have were in the wrong places, or that I didn't have the right to not like my body because I wasn't as big as these women.
So follow thin, curvy, tall, short, black, white, hispanic, athletic, slender, disabled (the list goes on) women. When you're used to seeing a vast array of women's body types, it makes it easier to be okay with your own since there's not this one prized ideal type.
I also started to follow more mindfulness and eating disorder recovery accounts. Again, I had to make sure I wasn't following too many because I also didn't want to constantly be reminded to think about my body, but it's nice to see a positive reinforcing image every so often.
3. This doesn't make everything rainbows and butterflies. That's okay
While making your newsfeed more inclusive can really help with your own body image, it won't magically make all negative thoughts disappear. There will still be days when you just aren't a fan of the way you look. That's okay! The more important thing is that you respond to it in a self-care manner instead of looking for the next diet or being extra restrictive the next day.
I'm also a huge fan of body neutrality, instead of body positivity. In a perfect world, I'd flaunt my bod all around town and be positive AF about it 24/7. The reality is, there are going to be days when I'm not just not feelin' myself. That's when I rely on seeing the body neutral and inclusive body types on my feed to remind me that everything is okay, and life is so much more than how you look.
So take a step back and think about how you feel after you scroll through Instagram and hit the lock button on your phone. If you're not feeling empowered, maybe it's time to switch it up a bit. We're told that the best friendships give us joy and push us to be our best selves. As we start seeing people face-to-face less, we have to make sure we're holding our virtual friends to the same standard.