I touched on the subject of body image, and how body positivity can turn sour in my post Girl-On-Girl Hate At The Hands Of Victorias Secret. Since then, I discovered a whole new aspect to social media in which women support other women being put down in the name of body positivity and confidence. A particular account (which I won’t be naming) boasted a huge following of 152,000 people (and undoubtedly many more who scroll through each day). The accounts sole purpose was to ‘reveal the truth’ on celebrities and women who have a large presence and following on social media, by posting their best pictures and their un-edited ‘worst’ pictures side by side, in order for other women in the comment section to ridicule them and subsequently feel better about themselves.
Whilst it was instantly something that I identified as wrong, I was shocked at the amount of girls and women, including ones that I knew personally, who believed that the account boosted their confidence and acted as a reminder that even the women who they compare themselves to have their imperfections. But was the public scrutiny of these women really necessary to understand this basic fact and knowledge?
Accounts like these do not promote body positivity, and supporting these practices only exposes the internalised misogyny that women are continuously battling with; the idea that you have to compete with these women in the looks department, and the justification that tearing others down is a great way to feel better about yourself, is the real problem that we should be dealing with. In a world where we have to deal with men and the rest of society determining our worth according to our looks and assets, we as women should be doing better.
We all have our flaws, some may be more obvious than others, but everyone is battling heir own insecurities whether they want to do so openly or not. What’s not okay is calling women out on the ways in which they go about disguising these flaws. Of course it’s wrong to be dishonest, particularly in regards to surgical or non-surgical enhancement procedures when you have impressionable girls and women looking up to you, but it shouldn’t be anyone’s job to go around exposing the very insecurities, blemishes, or features that people want to hide. The harsh truth is that these women aren’t responsible for the way that you feel about yourself; of course they can do their part to empower and uplift you, but your wellbeing is in your hands, and your hands only.
We’ve all edited pictures before, we all know which angles and lighting presents us in the way that we like, a lot of us also wear makeup and suck in our stomachs. Wear push-up bras to give ourselves better cleavage, pose so our waist looks skinnier and our hips look bigger, we all have pictures on our best days and worst days- so why is it that we’re entitled to do all of the above, but women who have more of a spotlight on them aren’t? It’s these women who are arguably under more pressure to do so. If they don’t look their best in pictures, we along with the media are the first to mention it- and if they do look their best in pictures, no matter what they did or used to enhance the photograph, we’re quick to tear them down and claim they aren’t real; they can’t win either way.
Of course the practice of women comparing themselves and their bodies to other women, and proceeding to shame those women for looking the way they do, is only fuelled by our internalised misogyny that has taught us that we ought to compete with each other because there isn’t room for all of us to be beautiful. Your worth isn’t measured by the the size of your waist or the prettiness of your face, but unfortunately we’ve been taught otherwise. Confidence does not come from the destruction of others. Beauty does not come from being surrounded by those less beautiful. Intelligence does not come from being amongst those who are less intelligent. Confidence comes from within us, and no amount of physical change to our exterior will cure our insecurities- only mental change will.
No amount of fame or status shields you from insecurities, mental health issues and body issues. Before deciding to be in favour of such social media accounts, think about how you would feel if there were 152,000+ people commenting on your pictures that are being compared. How would you feel if others were tearing you down, critiquing and ridiculing you to the same extent? We’re aware that very little of what we see on social media is real, yet we still allow ourselves to obsess over it and let it affect our lives and wellbeing. Instead of exposing yourself to material that’ll only upset you, surround ourself with positivity and content that’ll empower and inspire you.
HEALTHY SOCIAL MEDIA HABITS
- Stay away from the consumption of celebrity endorsements e.g. ‘skinny teas’ and ‘detox’ products- a majority of the time, the celebrities themselves have never used the product and are only promoting it to make some money. A lot of the time, these products aren’t healthy means of getting in shape/losing weight.
- Be honest with yourself- if you find yourself endlessly analysing and editing your pictures, ask yourself why you’re posting it, who you’re posting it for and what you want to get from posting it.
- Be kind- don’t leave any comments on pictures that you wouldn’t be happy to receive from someone else. Consider the effects of your words- yes it’s only social media, but it still counts as cyber bullying no matter how many followers the person has.
- Take a break- scrolling through social media for hours at a time or hours throughout the day isn’t healthy… you probably already know this. Use Apple’s screen time feature to monitor your usage.
- Unfollow, block, delete- whatever you need to do. Don’t expose yourself to any accounts or individuals that make you feel bad about yourself. There are a multitude of body positive accounts that’ll not only inspire and motivate you, but simultaneously empower you and remind you of your worth.
Positive Instagram accounts that I follow;