Body Image and Social Media

Copy of The ugly truth about self love (5).pngSocial media has distorted the way we perceive real bodies yet most people are afraid to talk about it. Having an hourglass body with a small waist and big butt has become the new norm. There has been a drastic increase in people getting BBL (Brazilian Butt Lift) surgery or going to extreme lengths to photoshop their body in order to fit this standard. Instagram has become a hub for this body sculpting obsession and influences/ celebrities have played a significant role in creating this trend. These beauty norms are making some of us feel pressured to change our bodies. It’s undeniable that a lot of people especially young people are suffering from body dysmorphia and negative body image issues as a direct result of social media.

Before I delve into this topic, I want to send out a disclaimer that I am not against people getting surgery or using other means to change their bodies. If someone decides to change their body to make them feel more confident, that is their choice. They do not owe anyone an explanation into why they made that decision. I made this post to speak up on the pressures to look a particular way due to social media.

We can’t undermine the impact this popular trend is having on people’s psyche and their self-esteem. I have personally been affected by these pressures. When I started using Instagram, I became obsessed with losing belly fat so I can look more slim and curvy. I toiled with the idea of getting surgery to alleviate the pressure of having to stay a certain weight. I became super obsessive over my eating and spiraled into the crash diets to achieve instant results. Scrolling on Instagram and seeing these perfectly sculpted bodies made me feel worse about my body. Although I have agency over the way I feel about myself, constant exposure to these images changed my perception of my own body and I believe social media is partly to blame. After having conversations with a friend about my struggles, it made me realise that I’m not alone. People are scared to speak up talk about this endemic in fear of being judged. However, being honest and open about how we feel is very important for our overall well-being and to help others realise that they’re not alone. 

My two big questions when it comes to people changing their bodies, is WHY? and most importantly, Would you have this surgery if social media didn’t exist? I want young women to know that their bodies are enough already regardless of whether it fits the standard or not. A person who is well sculpted is no better than you or no more attractive than you. Being the best version of yourself and rocky what you have is what makes you unique. Even though the pressure is super hard to escape, remind yourself that norms change constantly. Choose to live by your own standards and remember that social media is just a snippet of people’s life. Just because someone changes their body, doesn’t mean it will eradicate insecurities or exempt you from life’s problems. Don’t get caught up in the trends now that are forever changing and that can have a long term impact.

For influencers/ celebs who do decide to sculpt their bodies, just remember that people are looking up to you. You probably didn’t ask to be anyone’s role model but unfortunately what you choose to do affects others. You have a lot of power over shifting the culture. I believe we all have a social responsibility to the younger generation and we have to make decisions or at least have more conversations promoting body acceptance.  

There’s no way to turn your nose up at your own body or to put these really small boundaries on what’s socially acceptable for body types that are displayed that should be celebrated and that you’re not turning around and turning your nose up at other people – Joulzy on Body Image and Insecurities.

To truly accept all body types, it’s important that we practice loving our own bodies. Believe it or not, having a negative self-body image has an impact on your perception of other people’s body types. If you are critical about your own appearance, for example; don’t like your bum size or belly, how would you look at others and genuinely think it’s beautiful? Practising self-acceptance is tantamount to loving others holistically.

Three tips help when getting overwhelmed over body image:

  • Social media break- Delete your apps or log out for at least a day every so often. Arrange social media free days. Taking a break is good for your mental and physical well-being. Being constantly exposed to these reel highlights of other people’s lives can eat away at your confidence if it’s already quite low. It takes the focus off what you look like and more into things in your daily life that are important.

  • Unfollow unrealistic body types & follow diverse ones- In order to feel better about your body, start following people with similar body types as your own or more diverse ones. The more you see yourself reflected online, the more you are inclined to accept yourself.  Remember, you get to choose what crowd you engage with and what people on Instagram you decide to follow.

  • Learn more- learn more about your relationship with your body. Ask yourself this; how do I feel about my looks? What is my relationship with food? Where do those thoughts about my body come from? When you become clear on who you are and your own positive/ negative habits, it will help you to start developing a healthier relationship with your body.

Questions to you:

Have you felt pressured to look a certain way because of social media?

Would love to hear what you think!


Love, Ash <3


Copyright © AshAlves 2019, All Rights Reserved

33 responses to “Body Image and Social Media”

  1. Ash, this is an extraordinary post! Thank you so much for it. Your post is so spot on.

    Sometime ago, I read of a study done by a team of sociologists who poured over girl’s diaries from the 1950s and then from the 1990s. They found a shift in content. The 50s girls were writing about their desire to become better persons. e.g. they wanted to be kinder, or learn sewing, or read more books. The 90s girls had all but dropped those topics and were instead writing about boyfriends and body issues.

    Today, my impression is it’s just gotten worse — and I personally put the blame squarely on the fashion and entertainment industries in combination with social media.

    A while back, a young friend of mine asked me to paint a nude of her. Her idea was that it might help her to view her body in a better light if she saw it beautifully portrayed.

    It was not an easy painting to do because I felt I had to get it right — no room for error. But she said she showed the painting around without telling anyone whose body it was (the face was a bit obscure), and got so many compliments on it that she “realized she had a decent body”.

    Of course, I could not have been happier — the first nude I’ve ever painted — but it makes me wonder why it took a work of art for her to realize she was beautiful?

    It just seems to get worse every year.

    1. That’s so interesting! What a shift there has been. I can imagine now girls writing about celebrities, their friends and social media. It’s truly a scary time for our youth who have grown up on social media. It worries me the amount of suicides & bullying that happens on it too. Celebrity culture is damaging our youth. Glad you’re attuned with what’s going on Paul! Thanks for reading this I appreciate it 😊🌷

  2. Thanks to the influence of social media and evolving trends, folks now seek social attention/acceptance at the expense of their inner peace. While we work at being better bodily, we should learn not to be uncomfortable with ourselves.

    1. Exactly! It’s become a space whether people are constantly seeking validation. It’s scary that people are changing their bodies to fit into this standard. It’s worrying what messages these are sending to young girls. So true, we need to work on our insecurities as opposed to concealing them. Thanks for reading ☺️

  3. Ash, I’m so happy that I’m past the stage of peer pressure. Our insecure younger selves already have enough challenges without the addition of social media pressure.

    1. Happy for you! It’s depressing honestly. There’s too much pressure for people who grew up on social media. Young people as young as 10 years old have Instagram. Such a scary place we are in. Thanks for stopping by Rosaliene 💜

  4. Another great post Ash!! I loved the fact that you mentioned the forever changing standard, that is something that keeps me in check, when you know that this current standard or ideal of beauty will eventually change it puts a lot into perspective.

    1. Thank you Saabirah! Same literally have to remind myself that these standards always change & we can shape our lives around them. Appreciate you reading this ☺️💜

  5. Surgery, no, no, no, but am all in for those who exercise their butts off to achieve a desired goal. 🙄🕵

    1. Haha see I don’t mind the surgery but there’s not enough thought gone into the after care & the maintenance that you have to put into maintaining your post surgery body. Surgery is the easy way out of exercising that’s why haha 😂🌷

  6. 😄😃😆😂 well played. But, but, easy ways ain’t always the best route, unless one is to keep having surgery after some time to maintain. Oh, and not forgetting about the expense? Exercise is free 🤔😉😆🙋🏄🏃💃🙌🙌🙌👊

  7. Social media plays extremely huge role in forwarding trends and it might be very addictive more especially to the youth of today as for people altering their bodies it would still happen even if social media wasn’t present but they wouldn’t be this desperate… Honey! Have a nice day.

  8. What’s actually happening is so sad and social media is affecting us in a negative way because we are comparing ourselves with others constantly! And these people are not always real…the tips you gave are very good and the most important is to love our bodies, ourselves, to never compare because each body is different, genes are different… and if we need to improve it will be great but without comparison with anyone!
    When I watch all the perfection on Instagram mostly yes I feel insecure and wish to have similar body but I fight this because regardless the healthy food and exercise there are genes and body types, so the comparison is really unfair and nonsense! But unfortunately everything is promoting for perfection and certain beauty specs so most women feel insecure and not beautiful which is so wrong!
    Thank you for this important subject 👍

    1. Yes! The comparison is crazy and it’s so easy to fall into that trap because we are constantly watching the highlights of people’s best moments. And that’s such a good point you raised about different body types and healthy eating / exercise. A lot of people are trying to emulate achieving certain body types however our bodies respond to exercise & healthy foods differently. Its very sad that it’s making people feel so insecure! Thank you for your insight and for reading this, I appreciate it 💞🌷

      1. It’s my pleasure and thank you for the addition as well 🙏🏻 it’s a very important topic 👌🌸

      2. Thank you Huguette 🤗🤗🌷

  9. It is those sweet lies that we tell ourselves that will serve to be our demise – what an insightful post, thanks for putting this out into the Universe!

    1. Very true! Can’t find from the truth for too long. Thank you for stopping by Shun and I appreciate your words 😊

      1. I’m honored to do so.

  10. I’ve been definitely pressured to have a six-pack body. But that was more than social media–that’s all media for me.

    1. Hey Brendan! Sorry to hear that- I can imagine that there must be body pressure that men feel especially with this gym wave. Hope it’s something you’re able to overcome 💜

  11. Thank you for sharing this! When I first joined instagram about 8 years ago, I must admit it was to follow ‘thinspo/fitspo’ accounts. I would blame myself for feeling bad about my body and thought it was all in my head. Yet like you said, it took me actually developing a relationship with my body to understand the effect outside opinions truly had on how I say myself. Another wonderful post <3

    1. So glad you don’t experience those negative thoughts about your body as much! Its so true, we end up taking on other people’s body expectations & internalize them as our own. The thing is trends are constantly changing. Once we hit a goal, we may not feel satisfied enough as another beauty standard gets introduced. Thank you for reading and for your kind words Deja! 💞🌷

  12. I have no social media accounts. IG wad too fake and Facebook was just people uploading the best parts of their lives. You are left feeling like your life is inadequate and Instagram makes you feel as if you like inadequate. Deleted the apps and moved on.

    1. That’s good that you removed yourself from something you knew wouldn’t be in your best interest. You’re right it’s very toxic and has such negative impacts on young people. Thanks for reading Sam 😊

  13. I don’t know how to edit a comment lol. That was meant to look inadequate.

    1. Haha no worries! It happens ☺️

  14. Happy blogging. Look forward to reading more.

    1. Thank you, likewise ☺️🌷

  15. Amen! This is such an insightful, timely and honest post. As a black woman, I constantly feel the need to have a curvaceous figure. In having conversations with coworkers, I’ve found that men, especially homosexual men, also deal with body image pressures from social media. So the question is, if everyone is chasing a body image that no one actually has, why are we chasing it? I’ve had low self-esteem for many years, have dealt with colorism in many forms and don’t get me started on finding the beauty in my natural hair. Trying to adhere to societal standards of beauty is like being in a hamster wheel. You work so hard and only accomplish an exhausted mind and bank account. I now know I should focus on developing qualities that Jehovah God values. “But Jehovah said to Samuel: ‘Do not pay attention to his appearance and how tall he is, for I have rejected him. For the way man sees is not the way God sees, because mere man sees what appears to the eyes, but Jehovah sees into the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7)

    1. Your words! I resonate with it deeply. It does feel like being on a constant hamster wheel and these standards of beauty are so temperamental. It’s always changing and it feels like you can never keep up. It’s also so disheartening to see people who you thought would not succumb to these pressures do so- it kinda makes you question whether it’s something that we all should be participating in. And yes you’re so right- it’s even with Natural hair and colorism. As a black woman especially if you are dark skinned it’s a constant battle with our confidence and self esteem. We live in a world which tells black women that we are not good enough. Thanks for sharing that bible verse- it’s so important that we see people for who they are & qualities, not what they look like. Thank you for engaging with this post it’s much appreciated and all the best to you 💜

  16. So nicely written. 💜❤️

    1. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Have a great day 💗🤗

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