Topic Tuesday: Social Media

Strength in a Media-Driven World (By: Emily Jokisch, MS, RD, LDN, CSCS)
“Don’t read beauEmily Jokischty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly”.  I remember hearing that growing up.  Knowing the potential mental dangers that lurk behind the shiny pages of the latest Cosmo or Seventeen magazine.  But still people would buy them.  Usually spending a couple hours looking at the latest and greatest beauty and fashion trends, modeled by the beautiful woman of Hollywood or the modeling world.  Not realizing the subconscious messaging that happened looking through those pages.  Implanting an idea of what is beautiful and what is not.  Some social standard, that was compiled into “sexy summer skin” or “flawless fall fashion” trends that usually portrayed some very thin, tall model, wearing an outfit few of us could ever pull off, let alone afford.
Then came airbrushing, the retouching of every photo, to absolute perfection.  That these beautiful women, were somehow still not beautiful enough for the pages they were on.  That society now needed something better than beautiful.  We now needed perfect.  But in whose eyes?  And the magazines got more and more retouched, convincing more and more young women that beautiful wasn’t beautiful enough, and thin wasn’t thin enough.
Luckily, we hit a movement of people speaking out.  A time where Photoshop and retouching were put in the headlines.  “Before” and “after Photoshop” pictures coming out, seeing the supposed “flaws” of these seemingly flawless woman.  But somehow, it still hasn’t stopped. It has just grown, and it is something most of us are guilty of portraying ourselves.
It was easy 10 years ago to stay away from beauty magazines to help with your own body image.  I know that my parents didn’t allow me to buy those magazines, and so I never really got into that trend.  But then, when I started college, this amazing thing called Facebook came around.  Giving people the ability to communicate on a whole different level.  Social media.  And as we all know, from that stemmed other social media sites, like Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest.  Sites that have allowed us not only to connect with other people all over the world, but also post our pictures, opinions, likes, and dislikes.
At first it was all pretty harmless.  People posting a pictures from a birthday party, or a wedding, or of a new baby.  But it didn’t take long for it to become another form of portraying something that is just not the truth, just like magazines have done for decades.  Magazines try to focus on increasing sales by altering images, and similarly now people try to get more and more likes, and more and more followers by posting an image to bring out envy in others.  We are all guilty of it.  It makes you feel good when a handful of people like a photo you posted, but what we don’t think about is how it can greatly affect our self-esteem and the self-esteem of others.
Magazines are being called out on their Photoshopping of photos, but now there are apps that can do the same thing for our personal photos, to nip and tuck, and put on just the right filter to make it a “can’t miss” photo.  It’s kind of an amazing thing.  We’ve all become artists in our own form, but my concern is the constant stream of altered body images that now are directly at our fingertips. Continuous access to photo after photo that could potentially be a source of self-comparison and envy.  A thing that could possibly feed into our own insecurities of our bodies.
Here is my challenge to you.  When you use social media, just be mindful!  Be aware of the truth of what you are looking at.  A way of expression for people to show the world their lives.  But remember that most people only post the high points, the best photo of the 10 photos they took, a trip of a lifetime, etc.  Don’t compare yourself, just go out and enjoy your life.  And when you do post, ask yourself: why you are posting the picture?  Is it to share the joy you had in the moment?  Or is it in the hope of making a certain person jealous, or getting a certain amount of likes?  Be mindful of the fact that these photos are something we can constantly look at with direct access at all times on our phones.  So maybe you need to stop following the makeup artist or the fitness model.  If you find yourself comparing or in envy, it may be best not to feed that and walk the other way by unfollowing, before it becomes a source of self-insecurities about our lives and our bodies.
You are beautiful just the way you are.  Don’t let the stream of beauty posts or fitness ideas on Instagram let you think any differently.  You don’t need to buy into what they post as being the ultimate form of beauty.  You are beautiful just the way you are.  As we go into this summer season, I see on my own social media all the trends and posts about “Summer beauty” or “How to get a bikini body”.  But I will tell you this……the best way to get a bikini body, is to put a bikini on your body!  That’s it.  Now put the phone down, and go out, smile and live!
About the Author

Emily Jokisch is a Registered Dietitian from Madison, Wisconsin, now residing in Nashville, Tennessee. She went to the University of Tennessee where she graduated with her Bachelors in Dietetics and Psychology, and her Masters in Dietetics and Exercise Science. Emily is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. She currently works in corporate wellness as a Wellness/Engagement Consultant for Humana. In addition, she spends time writing and blogging for local wellness websites and works as a nutrition and exercise science guest writer for a cheerleading magazine.  Emily enjoys volunteering around the Nashville area, including the mentor program at the YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and now the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee.