Social media can impact the way we think about ourselves, positively or negatively.

Instagram

Today, people are constantly compared to others through social media and the photos that they upload. All the selfies, the photoshoots that go on behind closed doors to get the perfect picture for the gram… this is what is so important to many young people today. This includes myself. In 2017, Instagram was found to be the worst social media for body positivity. The pictures of thigh gaps, and flat tummies, but also have the voluptuous big booty everyone wants, it seems impossible. Therefore, this leaves a lot of Instagram users feeling inadequate and not quite good enough.

Girl using Instagram on a smartphone

Image from Pexels.com (no attribution required).

My Story

I was known as the chubby kid. Being bullied and called hurtful names all the way through school. Because I was a child, I didn’t care about my weight because I didn’t think about what I looked like. What people thought of me wasn’t an issue – until they said it out loud.
I was 13 when I decided to lose weight. Becoming more interested in boys made me want to do something about it. I didn’t know anything about dieting, I just knew I was eating too much. So, I started to eat healthier, and within 3 months over summer, I turned 14 and lost 1 stone. I was starting to get compliments. This was a completely new experience as I never received compliments on my figure. I liked how it felt and so continued to lose weight. 3 months later, I had lost another stone and a half.

How I lost Weight:

How I did this, was extremely unhealthy, although I thought it was correct and realise now it wasn’t at all. I didn’t understand anything about how I was affecting my metabolism or what strains I was putting my body through. This resulted in me cutting my calories dramatically, on an average day it was 700/800 calories and some days when I became obsessive, I cut it down to 400 calories. This lead to me having no energy, I would go to sleep sometimes at 8pm just so that I wouldn’t think about how hungry I was.
For the next 4 years after this, I maintained my weight fluctuating between 800/1000 calories a day depending on how much I wanted to diet that week.

Black and white picture of a woman measuring her tummy circumference with a tape measure

Image from Pexels.com (no attribution required).

Today

Eating healthily is still very important to me, and I generally don’t calorie count (although I know roughly what’s very calorific and what isn’t due to calorie counting for such a long time) and I now go to the gym. I feel stronger and happier than I have done since I started my weight loss journey. Although I am not the same weight as I was when I originally lost the 2 and a half stone, I’m happier now. Today, I work on feeling stronger and looking more toned rather than what the scales say. One of my favourite youtubers to watch for inspiration on this is Grace Fit UK, who eats plenty of food, but eats healthily and works out regularly and I take tips from her all the time and she motivates me to think positively about myself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWuWsy_pOZI

What this has to do with Social Media…

Personally, Instagram would feed my unhealthy addiction with dieting. I would see girls posting pictures of themselves on holiday in bikinis looking really slim, and I wanted to be the same. The satisfaction I got when people would tell me how slim I looked, was the best feeling in the world. They were so jealous of my figure and I felt I had achieved what many girls on Instagram share on their profile.
Obviously, I am still a regular user of Instagram like lots of other young women. However, today, there’s much more positivity about eating more and therefore exercising more. At the end of the day, the more you burn off the more you can eat, and that maintains a healthy lifestyle and keeps your fitness up.

What Changed…

I decided to buy a work out guide. Again, on Instagram, I followed many girls who went to the gym regularly and saw their progress pictures. So, I decided to buy Taylor Kaytee’s work out guide. When I go to the gym, it’s a break from social media and everything else going on around me, and I feel as though I’m just fully focusing on myself and making me feel happy. I would recommend it to anyone, as it has made me more confident in myself which I never had when I dieted.

What you have to remember

I started to read around the subject. In order to improve my mental well-being around the topic of social media and body positivity, I needed to stop constantly comparing myself to others. There is always going to be someone who looks better, who works out better, or who has nicer clothes and fashion taste.
At the end of the day, you need to do what makes you feel beautiful. Not what you think would look beautiful for Instagram.