By: Jenna Najjar

The new year is an excellent time to check-in and evaluate our practices, habits, and thoughts. If you are like me, every time I open my phone it feels like being bombarded with messages and advertisements geared towards health products, weight loss, diets, and exercise equipment. How can we feel more confident in our bodies and increase our self-esteem in this current age of social media? How do we move away from being at war with our weight and size and move towards being at peace with it?  

Learning to feel more comfortable in your body with less self-criticism and more appreciation takes time. One helpful step while on this journey can be evaluating your social media feed and the accounts you follow. These videos and images could be sending you messages that are stalling your progress towards body positivity, acceptance, and celebration and keeping you stuck in comparison and judgment. 

Diet culture is deeply rooted in our world today and based on the toxic beliefs of body shaming and weight loss. Diet culture can be defined as falsely equating health with thinness and promoting the calories-in/calories-out myth, and has warped the connotations of certain foods and activities (ASDAH). Unlearning these ideas takes time and working towards practicing and living out body positivity can be a journey that does not happen overnight. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, Diet Culture is dangerous and harms people of all sizes, as well as perpetuates eating disorders (NEDA). Diet culture is harmful to everyone and is reinforced by the media.

Instagram pictures, Tiktok videos, and Facebook posts are all part of the social media diet that we consume based on the accounts we follow. When we think about the media messages we consume, so many can center around weight loss, diets, what a celebrity eats in a day, and exercise regimens. These messages range from subliminal to downright triggering when it comes to our bodies and food. 

Understanding and identifying weight stigma is the first step in the process. Weight stigma also known as weight bias or weight discrimination is discrimination or serotyping based on a person’s size (NEDA).  Weight Stigma also can also be referred to as fatphobia, the dislike or fear of being fat (NEDA). These messages are not hard to find when it comes to the before and after’s, diet tricks, and tips. Considering all the attention celebrities get when they gain or lose weight, there is a clear message here fat is bad, and thin is good. 

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, eating disorders can affect all kinds of bodies and you cannot tell by looking at someone if they have an eating disorder (NEDA). Understanding body diversity is a very helpful step in the process of unlearning these stigmas and moving towards body acceptance. Each person’s genetic inheritance influences their bone structure, body size, shape, and weight differently and we should appreciate those differences, encourage healthy behaviors, and treat every body with respect (NEDA). Every person has a different ideal body weight and your “ideal” body weight is the weight that allows you to feel strong and energetic and lets you lead a healthy, normal life (NEDA).

The National Eating Disorders Association’s annual national eating disorder awareness week, happening this year from February 21 – February 27, 2022, is an excellent time for reflection on the social media messages we consume related to food and bodies. There are so many brave and inclusive accounts and communities out there doing the hard work of dismantling these oppressive systems of weight basis, fatphobia, and diet culture. Consider the account you follow on your social media and if they are perpetuating diet culture and body shaming or helping you to move towards acceptance and appreciation for your body. The takeaway here is not to stop using social media but to engage and take charge of your social media diet by clearing out the accounts that don’t match your values. 

By using social media in a way that matches your values and vision for yourself and the world you want to be a part of you are reinforcing a message every time you look at your phone. What do you want that message to be? Consider taking inventory of the accounts you follow and consider following activists, communities, and digital spaces that already exist. 

Action Steps 

  1.   Take an inventory of the social media account and profiles you follow. Do you notice weight stigma, fat-shaming, diet culture? 
  2.   Reflect on how you feel when you look at this content. Consider unfollowing accounts if they do not match your values. 
  3.   Consider following accounts that celebrate body diversity and or dismantle diet culture, weight stigma, and or fat-shaming.

Instagram Accounts 

  1.   https://www.instagram.com/thebodyisnotanapology/?hl=en
  2.   https://www.instagram.com/jennifer_rollin/?hl=en
  3.   https://www.instagram.com/bodyimagewithbri/?hl=en
  4.   https://www.instagram.com/virgietovar/reels/

References 

https://asdah.org/health-at-every-size-haes-approach/

https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/size-diversity-health-every-size

Resources 

Recommended Posts