by: Dakotah Williams and Laryn Hurley
With instant access to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and other forms of social media linking us to millions of people with just a click of a button on a computer, cell phone, etc, it is no wonder that our lives have become a popularity contest based on how many “likes” we receive.
Numerous studies have reported that the average American spends at least 23 hours a week on some form of social media. What does this mean for eating disorders?
One study found that participants who spent more time on Facebook reported higher incidences of body image concerns contributing to appearance-focused behaviors further increasing the risk for the development of eating disorders. In addition, just twenty minutes of Facebook consumption contributed to the maintenance of a higher weight, shape concerns, and anxiety compared to those who invested less time on Facebook. And for those that currently struggle with disordered eating behaviors, “social media can be downright toxic (Mysko, 2014).”
Much of how we judge our own successes are dependent upon the comparison of ourselves with others. People generally only post their best pictures, most interesting thoughts, and most breathtaking adventures for others to evaluate and “like”.
Claire Mysko, who oversees teen outreach for the National Eating Disorder Association, says, “frequent users of social media can end up feeling as though they’re alternating between broadcast and comparison modes, which are both dangerous places to be if you are prone to believing that your self-worth is based on others’ approval.”
Although social media can amplify behaviors that contribute to eating disorders. Mysko reports, “it can also empower individuals to use their voices and resist mainstream media messages about beauty and thinness.”
If you must be on social media, be your own content creator of body acceptance for you and your friends. Delete the trigger images and contributors from your newsfeed and follow the pages that deliver encouragement, hope, and self-acceptance.
Here are some great facebook pages to follow for encouragement and recovery:
Mysko, Clair. Fight Eating Disorders with Facebook. March 7,2014. http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/07/living/eating-disorders-social-media-parents/