Every morning, the first thing I reach for is my phone. I go straight to Instagram and scroll through my feed before I have to wake up for my 8 a.m. This is not only a part of my everyday routine but a huge part of my life. Like many others, social media has become woven into who we are as people. It is a part of our identity. It's how we show the world an image of ourselves that we have curated.
Just as we use social media to promote ourselves, thousands of celebrities, models, companies and brands, we also use it to create an image of perfection. It's hard not to see a multitude of perfectly bronzed beauties with amazingly sculpted abs, legs that go on for days, and perky, perfectly rounded tushies. Thousands of Instagram accounts promote images of perfectly sculpted men and women.
There is an apparent problem within this fake shiny world of idealism. Thousands of famous people and models on social media document their workout routines, eating habits, and other aspects of their lifestyle that contribute to the way they look. There is only one problem with this industry; it's all fake.
An Instagram model can post a picture of herself in a bikini, showing off her amazing tummy while holding up a weight loss tea supplement. Her caption reads something along the lines of “Love this new detox tea! It's my secret weapon against unwanted fat!” This is sending a very dangerous message to millions of her followers. It is spreading the idea that supplements, diet pills and detox teas are the best way to achieve her body type, when in reality, it could not be further from the truth.
Her job is to look perfect and promote merchandise. This creates an unrealistic beauty standard for all of her followers who believe that this product is their ticket to a perfect body. In reality, a perfect body does not exist. An immense amount of planning, makeup and photo editing went into the final Instagram picture she posted. It's designed to sell a product, not support a healthy lifestyle.
This leads to low self-esteem and negative thinking towards food. It is incredibly important to teach young women AND men that social media is not real life. Every day, I see the hashtag “body goals” or “thinspo," which is supposed to serve as inspiration to acquire a thin body. I myself have experienced the pressure to look a certain way, as most people I know have. Social media tells us that we need to be a beautiful person in order to be worthy.
In a world where you are measured by how many likes you receive, it's not surprising that so many young men and women suffer from eating disorders, or disordered thinking towards food in general. According to The National Eating Disorder Association, "40-60% of elementary school girls (ages 6-12) are concerned about their weight or about becoming too fat." Over half of elementary school girls are worried about the way they look. I personally find this number extremely disheartening.
While so many accounts contribute to the harsh beauty standards of today's society, many aim to spread the message of self-love and acceptance. Amalie Lee has an Instagram account that preaches body positivity and a healthy attitude towards food in general.
She posts pictures of candy, ice cream and unedited photos of herself. She believes that cellulite and stretch marks should be celebrated, not erased. She has recovered from anorexia, which she states was made worst by the images she saw through social media.
Her goal is to flood the internet with realistic photos of healthy, happy bodies. Accounts like this are creating a safe, healthy place for people to understand the truth behind edited social media pictures and brand advertising. Instead of using social media to create a toxic breeding ground of negative self-image, let's strive to create a positive attitude towards a true version of ourselves!