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Social Media, Body Image, and Body Diversity
When our social media feeds are filled with people who align with “ideal beauty standards” we aren’t accurately representing the diversity of bodies that exist in the world, and we’re often setting unrealistic standards for ourselves. These pressures and comparisons can lead to poor body image, dieting, and even disordered eating. While the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) emphasizes that there is no single cause of body dissatisfaction or disordered eating (many factors are often involved), research is overwhelmingly stating that media does indeed contribute.
If you’d like to reduce the negative impact that social media may be having on your body image, and your mental health in general, the good news is that you don’t necessarily need to stay away from it altogether. Social media isn’t all bad; studies, like this one featured on Psychology Today, are showing that by exposing ourselves to more accounts that promote body positivity and body diversity, we can impact our body image and mental health in positive ways!
Before I talk about diversifying your feeds, it’s important to note that the body positivity movement was a product of the fat (which is not a bad word) liberation movement, which was led by fat, Black, queer women and femmes. It is meant to be a movement by and for marginalized bodies, and as expressed by Chelsea Kronengold, the manager of communications at NEDA, “particularly fat, Black, queer, and disabled bodies.” Its roots in social justice, the body positivity movement is one that fights against fatphobia and systemic oppression against fat people. However, the #bodypositivity hashtag has often been infiltrated by thin and straight-sized (a term to describe those who fit into typical sized clothing, versus plus sized) white, able-bodied women. Do these women still struggle with body image and harmful societal expectations? Absolutely! However, there are plenty of other hashtags we can use that don’t take away from the voices of those who are discriminated against because of their body.
Now, back to diversifying your feed. Jes Baker, known as @themilitantbaker on Instagram, explains wonderfully in this blog, on themilitantbaker.com, why creating diversity on your social media is beneficial for tackling fatphobia and improving body image. To help you get started, I’ve listed some of my favourite Instagram accounts that promote body positivity and/or body diversity:
- @meganjaynecrabbe (formally known as @bodiposipanda)
As I wrap this up, it is important to point out that the fatphobia and body-shaming that exist today are largely, if not entirely, due to colonization. That being said, @dineaesthetics is the only Indigenous-led account that I’ve been able to find, so far, that regularly discusses decolonizing diet-culture. Please reach out to us if you know of others!
Now, we challenge you to check out at least a couple of the accounts listed above and give them a follow. Together, let’s work to unlearn the harmful narratives we’ve been taught about our bodies and the bodies of those around us.
Scarlett started as a volunteer with mindyourmind in 2012 and was a member of the staff team from 2016 to 2023. As a Psychology graduate from King's University College at Western, she is passionate about all things related to the subject and is a proud mental health advocate with lived experience.
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