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Instagram and Its Impact on our Body Image

Instagram is a fun way to share photographs with friends, family, and the rest of the world.  It features everything from pets, to food, to fitness and models in exotic locations.  It can be a great way to meet new people and fall in love with new places and things (finding a new favorite restaurant, for example).  But what happens if Instagram starts to impact out lives in a negative way?

Instagram Envy

Instagram can cause some negative emotions and feelings – including those of envy.  For example, say you see a fantastic meal at a fancy restaurant in a different country that you wish you could visit – you might feel a bit envious or wish you could be the one there, taking pictures and enjoying the sights, but you aren’t able to.

The same is true for body envy- It can be common these days to see people posting pictures of themselves wearing very small bikinis, showing off their abs or booty, or doing their makeup flawlessly.  Seeing these imagines over and over may make you feel that you aren’t thin enough or pretty enough, and despite how untrue that is, you might become preoccupied with it, causing stress and anxiety.


Unrealistic Body Image

Instagram can cause lots of people to have an unrealistic body image of themselves.  The pictures that are available to view, such as those of clothing and makeup models, might make it seem as though they are perfect, causing you to wish for that type of perfection in terms of body image, the ability to apply makeup, or even flawless curls in your hair.

When an adult or a teenager (because oftentimes teens are more susceptible to the negativity that is promoted via social media) browses Instagram feeds of popular celebrities, models, and makeup artists on, they are seeing filtered, edited products, and they can wind up comparing them to their own self images, forming an opinion that they are not as good as these other, famous people who have millions of followers, and they might wonder what they are doing wrong, and how they can change themselves.  This can often lead to body dysmorphic disorder, eating disorders, low self esteem – the list goes on.  These issues are quite damaging to not only teens, but adults as well, and it can affect the way they see themselves and how they believe others perceive them.

Social media can be a battleground for those who suffer from any of the above conditions, or those who are younger or more easily impressionable.  For this reason, many parents ban social media accounts, such as Instagram, from being used in their homes.  Once this type of damage occurs, it can be difficult to repair.


How to Change It

Let’s face it – it can be difficult to cut out social media from our lives permanently.  Often it can be our only way to communicate with friends and family, and it’s always interesting to see what those we care about are up to.  However, it is important to keep in mind that if you are going to spend time on social media each day, that you do not let it interfere with your life, or how you see yourself.

Spending less time on social media is a great start – if you usually browse Instagram for an hour each day, cut it down to a half hour, and eventually cut it down to half of that.  This gives you more time to focus on other things in your life.

Be more discriminating about who you follow.  If you are following lots of models and people who post pictures of their body, ask yourself how it makes you feel to see those images.  A lot of people think they are following them for inspiration and motivation, when what they are really doing is causing shame, frustration and an unhealthy body image.  Ask yourself how you feel when you see certain peoples’ posts and if it’s anything other than positive- UNFOLLOW THEM!  Make Instagram a happy and positive environment for yourself.

Make lists of what you love about yourself – nothing negative, just all positives.  Don’t be shy, either – if you can think of twenty things that you admire about yourself, then list them all.

Realize that many of the things we see on Instagram are edited with programs such as Photoshop.  Those models aren’t always quite that thin and chiseled, and that beauty blogger who posted the flawless makeup more than likely used filters and edited their shots to make their makeup look perfect.

Post your own photos on Instagram – and remember that it isn’t always about the followers.  Post pictures of yourself without makeup.  Post pictures of yourself having fun, even if they don’t appear to be perfect.  These are the real pictures that you should be looking for and they are pictures that others will appreciate you sharing!

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Dr. Candice Seti


California-licensed Clinical Psychologist, Certified Nutrition Coach, and Certified Personal Trainer

Dr. Candice Seti

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