Topic Tuesday: Social Media
“Dear Millennials” (By: Alana Agnone)
We are a very special generation. We post, snap, tweet, pin, blog, and everything else in between. We are obsessed with selfies, recording our every move, and proving to the world that we lead the coolest lives. If you’re like me, you have almost every social media platform and probably frequent them more times a day then you care to admit. It’s a sickness really, checking Instagram or Facebook while watching TV, riding an elevator, sitting in class, and every other spare moment you have.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I genuinely care what everyone else is doing 24/7, it has just become a habit. How many of you check social media the moment you wake up and right before you go to bed? Well, maybe you aren’t like me and maybe you don’t have this problem. If that is the case, GOOD! Stay that way. Because I am here to tell you it’s promoting body image issues in ways you probably don’t even notice and if you aren’t careful, it could seriously inhibit your recovery process.
Our culture is already obsessed with objectifying the female body. It’s become subliminal nowadays. Ever notice that your favorite female lead character in your TV show is seen eating a salad at lunch while her male counter-part chows down on a burger? Have you noticed how all of these weight loss or lower calorie product commercials feature mostly women? Don’t even get me started on movies or pop music. It’s become so assimilated into our culture that we hardly even question it anymore.
It makes me sad to scroll through Instagram and Facebook and read comments from guys AND girls that post on a friends’ picture, only commenting on their appearance. I can’t tell you how many times I read a comment like “omg so skinny” or “wow bod goals” on a picture of a girl in her bikini. We get it, you look thin, but isn’t there anything else you could comment on? Why is it that people feel the need to validate themselves through likes? Why is someone’s weight even something to be commented on? Why is being thin something to be praised?
Again, it’s a part of our culture but without even realizing it, we are promoting poor body image and perpetuating the stereotype that only thin is beautiful. Young girls and boys see this and think “this is what I need to look like” or “this is the kind of girl I want,” as if these goals are even attainable let alone healthy for most women. I can’t tell you how many times I have put down my phone after scrolling through social media only to feel worse about myself and anxiety about needing to change.
It’s probably one of my biggest triggers when it comes to my disorder. I have found that I am my worst when I am most invested and it wasn’t until recently that I decided it wouldn’t control me anymore. It was hurting me, every single day; and despite the idea that social media is supposed to be a creative way to connect and express yourself, I’ve come to find that all is does is feed or starve the ego. Because let’s be honest, if the person wasn’t thin or fit, would anyone comment on their appearance at all? So I guess my question now is, why is it only okay to lift up a person when they are complying to your standard of beauty?
This issue is one that hits close to home for me and maybe it does the same for some of you reading this. I know this a topic that I could expand on for hours but my main goal here is to bring awareness. Anyone who has lived with an eating disorder knows just how crippling it can be. I would never wish it upon anyone, ever. It scares me to think that someone else could develop one from something as insignificant as social media, but I know it happens.
That’s why I challenged myself to only open social media 3 times a day. I know that may still seem like a lot to some of you, but I also limited the amount of time I can spend on there. I also promised myself I wouldn’t engage in posting or commenting anything that may trigger myself or someone else. I am now making a conscious effort to notice what it is I am posting, what I am reading, and who I am looking at. It becomes mindless to stare at a screen day after day and think to myself “ugh I just want to look like her,” but I know millions of other girls are doing the same.
That is why I challenge you as well to try limiting your screen time too. Whether that means social media, TV, or just the internet. If you think these things are in any way making you feel worse about yourself or discouraged during your time of recovery, I highly recommend cutting back and just unplugging for a while. There really is a certain peace that comes along with being so disconnected from everything. If for some reason you don’t have that luxury then just try limiting how much time you can spend. I promise you, the feeling is liberating and incredibly therapeutic.
Until we live in a society where we stop allowing such open objectification of the female body both by men and women, then we must learn to ignore the lies they feed us. The truth is healthy is beautiful, no matter what that looks like. I have a mantra I use whenever I start to feel anxious about my body or self-worth and it’s “life’s too short.” No matter how much I change about myself, I’ll never be truly happy unless I just embrace my flaws and let go. My recovery process has been an extremely long and bumpy road but along the way I have learned so much about how to heal.
Find what is stopping you or hurting you and beat it. You are so much stronger than you think.
About the Author
Alana was born and raised in Ormond Beach, FL with her four siblings and parents. She attended the University of South Florida and majored in Public Relations. She moved to Nashville in August of 2016 and plans to go back to school to study Nutrition at Lipscomb University in the fall of 2017. In her spare-time she loves to hike, bike, read, and do photography. She wants to become a Registered Dietitian in hopes of someday working with eating disorder patients and those with other mental illnesses. She also loves to cook and believes learning about food and nutrition has been her biggest tool in her recovery process.