Hello my lovely readers! I know, I know, I’ve taken a loooong hiatus from writing, and I wish I had a more exciting excuse for you other than “overwhelmed with school” but c’est la vie. Ironically enough, it’s been on my heart to share with you something that I’ve been researching for one of my classes. What am I talking about, you ask? Drum roll please! I’m talking about social media and the impact it has on our body image. I've learned a lot from the research I've done and it's too much to cram into one blog post. So today, we'll be exploring one piece of the puzzle: how we can feel good about ourselves while we are scrolling through social media.
Social media has become a part of our daily lives, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it’s going away anytime soon. With that being said, we need to learn to use social media the way it was intended: as a means of connecting to friends and family. A lot of us are probably aware that it's common to feel worse about ourselves after viewing social media than how we felt about ourselves before viewing it. This is because instead of using social media as a way of communication, we're using it for validation.
Like every other person on this planet, I’ve battled with body insecurity for a good chunk of my life. It didn’t reach its climax until eighth grade, when I gained a lot of weight in a short amount of time. After visiting multiple doctors, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Good news: I now knew the cause of my freakish weight gain, but bad news: I tried countless diets and exercise plans to lose the weight with no success.
In-between all of this, my parents allowed me to get social media accounts. Before I knew it, I was following Pilates instructors and The Biggest Loser contestants, drinking in all of the motivational posts that I could find. I spent hours scrolling through before and after photos and posts explaining different exercises that could slim down my muffin top. Little did I know that viewing this type of social media was one of the factors that drove me into depression.
Growing up, I was the definition of a happy-go-lucky kid. Dancing around in my room to Shania Twain songs and laughing off a bad test grade were normal occurrences. I was never afraid to see the good in any situation and I didn’t shy away from proclaiming my happiness to the world. So having depression and needing to go to a counselor on a weekly basis was something I was ashamed of.
It wasn’t until I went on my first retreat my junior year of high school that I realized that depression wasn’t something I should be ashamed of. In fact, it was a blessing in disguise because that experience taught that I didn’t need to change, that I was beautiful despite the weight I’d gained. God doesn’t make mistakes and creating me the way I am, was all part of His plan.
When I was first diagnosed with Hashimoto's, in the height of my sorrow, I spent hours scrolling through Instagram and Facebook posts. It was the absolute worst thing I could have been doing because I was viewing social media in the most vulnerable state. I was looking for validation that I was worth it, that I was just as beautiful and slim as the girls I saw on social media. I wasn’t going online to look at what my friends had been up to but to reassure myself that my face wasn’t too round, that my thighs were small enough and my stomach fat was normal.
Okay, so let’s say that we find ourselves in a vulnerable state-of-mind. What can we do about it? For me, the best thing I can do is to delete the social media apps on my phone for a couple weeks. I know deleting social media is hard but think of what will be better for your future self. In my experience, deleting the apps help me to really face my insecurities head on instead of turning to social media to fill that void. But then the question becomes, how do we face our insecurities when we’re in a vulnerable state of mind? The answer is different for everyone but I think it comes down to doing activities that remind you of your self-worth. So for me, the most important thing I can do is to go to the adoration chapel, to visit the One who never fails to remind me of my beauty. If you find yourself in a vulnerable state, I encourage you to visit Jesus in the chapel and drink in all of the things He says about you. Listen to the truths He speaks to your heart and push away the lies you’ve been telling yourself.
Talking to someone who you trust is also a good tactic. Sometimes all we need to do is unload the burdens of our heart to a friend or family member who is willing to listen. And if you don’t feel like you’re in a talking mood, journal! As gross as it sounds, word vomiting all of my emotions is one of the best things I can do when I’m not realizing my self-worth.
Social media aside, if I could tell you anything, I’d say that happiness won’t come when you lose those 10 pounds. It comes when you confront your insecurities and learn to love them, knowing that although your appearance might never change, your perspective can. You can change your perspective to view yourself as beautiful, as a creature worthy of love. Embrace your body and go out and live! Experience what this life has to offer, because God gave you one body, and the world’s not going to wait for you.
I didn’t lose any weight to regain my happiness and self-worth, but I lost the lies I was telling myself and the lies I was receiving from social media that I wasn’t good enough. I’m praying that you lose those lies too, that you start to see yourself the way that God sees you.
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