It can be hard to tell what is real and what’s not when you see photos on social media. People want others to like them, and they want to feel good about themselves. But trying to live up to unrealistic expectations of what “looking good” is can wreak havoc on a woman already struggling with her body image. In addition, it could be a trigger for those dealing with an existing eating disorder or for the start of an eating disorder.
Social media can influence many aspects of one’s life, including eating disorders. The right kind of content can lift people up and promote a positive body image. However, the wrong content can promote disordered eating through low self-esteem, extreme food restriction, and an overall unhealthy relationship with food and appearance. Through treatment at an eating disorder treatment center, you can learn to manage your own expectations and triggers on social media. For more information about the treatment options available, please contact Crossroads today at 877.978.1667.
The Link Between Social Media and Eating Disorders
Most experts agree that people of all ages can spend too much time on social media. It can make you feel good or bad about yourself, depending on how you compare yourself to others. “Keeping up with the Joneses” can make you set unrealistic standards. How you measure your beauty, diet ideals, body image, and more can either positively or negatively influence your eating disorder. Taking social media images at face value can be setting yourself up for failure. Social media channels like Instagram include posts highlighting “thinspiration,” weight loss, body shaming, and fasting. These can quickly influence your emotional and mental well-being.
Here are some ways that social media can influence others and set unrealistic body image expectations for women.
Comparing Yourself to Others
Judging yourself and comparing yourself to others is human nature. Social media takes these comparisons to the next level in the digital world, where they live forever. For someone struggling with an eating disorder, this can be incredibly triggering. These toxic images are often not reality. It’s all too easy to photoshop a picture or alter it to reflect an idealized reality, influencing women to develop unrealistic expectations when it comes to body image.
Seeking validation through social media is dangerous. Likes and comments on your posts and photos may show how others view you at that moment. However, it shouldn’t lead to how you treat yourself. Engagement on social media does not define your beauty, nor should it affect your eating, exercise, or beauty habits. Still, sadly it does, especially for those that struggle with an eating disorder.
Setting Triggers Off
For those battling addiction, eating disorders, and mental health disorders, recognizing and avoiding triggers is an integral part of recovery. Social media can be a notable trigger for those in recovery from an eating disorder. Triggers that encourage disordered eating behaviors can include:
- Posts about weight loss or working out
- Diet trends like fasting
- Unrealistic altered body images like before and after photos promoting a weight loss product or regimen
If you’re at risk of relapse for an eating disorder, finding support at a women’s eating disorder treatment center may be a helpful step.
How to Avoid the Pressures of Social Media
If you suffer from an eating disorder and you are going to use social media, then you must take precautions. Take the following tips into consideration to best avoid the negative impact social media leading can have on an eating disorder:
Be Mindful of Peer and Cultural Pressures
Visual social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tik Tok, and Snapchat offer the content most likely to trigger an eating disorder. It may be necessary to avoid photos and videos glamorizing and promoting body perfection. Social media algorithms are built to serve you more of the same content in different ways. So watch out for advertisers just trying to capitalize on your weaknesses. Keep your feed clean and try to be an observer rather than an active participant. Better yet, avoid image-heavy content channels altogether.
Be Careful Whom You Follow
While you may want to follow accounts dedicated to food and fitness, they may not all promote positive body image. So, review the pages before you start following them. And if you find you’re following an account that turns out to be a negative influence, don’t be afraid to unfollow them. There’s no need for messages that aren’t good for your mental and physical health.
Be Mindful of Your Social and Emotional Well-Being
Keep yourself in check. Emotional and mental health problems may be the cause of your eating disorder. While social media can be a great platform to create online communities and provide entertainment, it can easily exacerbate mental health conditions. If you need help supporting your mental health, you’re welcome to reach out to Crossroads for help.
Contact Crossroads Today
At Crossroads, you can escape the pressures and triggers of your day-to-day life and social media in a peaceful and therapeutic environment. We often recommend reducing or eliminating social media use while in recovery. However, surrounding yourself with the right support system in person and virtually will help you achieve lifelong recovery from your eating disorder. We provide a wide range of treatment options, including:
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Trauma therapy
Every woman deserves a second chance, and no one should be alone in their struggle with an eating disorder. The caring and compassionate team at Crossroads is here to help you every step of the way on the road to recovery. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or an eating disorder, contact our team today at 877.978.1667.