Lucy is an anti-diet culture personal trainer and empowers women to practice self love and body acceptance.
How often have you felt unworthy, inadequate, jealous of other people’s bodies, frustrated, or dissatisfied with your own, after scrolling on Instagram? How does this compare to the number of times you have felt empowered, inspired, and seen? Your answer has everything to do with how you use Instagram and nothing to do with your body itself.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” – we’ve all heard the phrase, but have you really paused to consider whether the current people you follow or the amount of time you spend on the explore page, is doing your self-esteem and sense of self-worth any good? Or how about the contributions you make to Instagram? Let’s take a moment to reflect now, by answering the following questions…
1) Does social media have a negative effect on your body image?
2) Do you compare your life to others based on their social media posts?
3) Do you pose in pictures, so your body conforms to body ‘ideals’?
4) Do you spend a lot of time refining a post that is meant to appear casual?
5) Do you delete posts if they have not received ‘enough’ likes/comments?
6) Have you posted a comment on someone else’s photo about their appearance/body,
even though it was not the focus of the photo?
7) Do you edit/photoshop your photos to ‘enhance’ your appearance?
8) Do you follow a lot of people who have the body type you ‘wish’ you had?
If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the above, the next few tips are for you! Because let me tell you something – you can and deserve to feel confident and comfortable in your body as you are, right now. Confidence is not about how your body looks. Confidence is embracing everything that you are, and not allowing a single thing to make you doubt your magic.
Step 1: Unfollow Party
Put aside 15 minutes in your calendar for an Instagram ‘unfollow party’. Click on ‘following’ and one-by-one unfollow EVERY single last person who makes you feel rubbish. Yes, even if it’s your friend. I promise that neither their world, nor yours, will burn to ashes because you no longer follow them. Chances are they won’t even notice, and a celebrity or influencer certainly won’t.
Step 2: Diversify Your Feeds
It is so easy to feel like Instagram is full of merely thin, roll-less, cellulite-less, stretchmark- less, spotless, tanned, toned women who seemingly have their lives together who wears a new gym set every day and sips on coffee with pretty patterns. Somehow, you have managed to follow the 1% of women whose reality that truly is. There is another 1% who edits their photos to appear that way, and the rest of us 98% whose reality is different – but no less worthy or wonderful. Step 2 is to expose yourself to that 98%, who vary in body shapes and sizes, who have children, who have a disability, who is not the same ethnicity as you. Because there is not a correct way to have a body, and there is not a correct way to be
a woman. Let this step empower and inspire you! Here are some amazing accounts:
Step 3: See the Souls
To improve your sense of self-worth and respect your body, you need to treat other people as more than their body too. We’ve all done it – “body goals!!!!!!”, “you look so pretty”, all the flames and heart-eyes emojis. And while this is often well-intentioned, it contributes to the idea that we are bodies to look at, rather than souls to admire. Not to mention that we will never truly know what behaviours we may be encouraging, as that person may be taking unhealthy measures to ‘achieve’ the body you are applauding. So instead, I challenge you to actively see their soul and not their body. Perhaps tell them that you love their humour, their style, their ideas, their passion, or comment directly relating to what the post
is actually about!
Step 4: Bed Is for Sleeping, Not Scrolling
This is essential. Stop scrolling before you sleep and first-thing in the morning. If this is hard, then it is even more important that you stop. This is your time to settle down, or to ready yourself for the day. Stop being over-concerned about what others are up to and how they are feeling. You are particularly vulnerable to negative body image thoughts if you see a triggering photo or post when you are tired (hopefully you have done step 1 by this point, but you are not safe from the explore page or from what other people share).
Step 5: Show Up as You
This step can feel scary, so take small steps in your own time. This is about resisting the urge to heavily edit or manipulate your photos. Trust me, we all love a cheeky filter. But if you feel the need to edit out your ‘flaws’ or would feel mortified if an unedited photo of you was shown to the world, you are not treating yourself with the respect and kindness you deserve. You have not failed to meet the ‘criteria’ of beauty, there is no criteria! And girl, you do not owe anybody beauty anyway. Your body is the least interesting thing about you, and if anyone should disagree – they are not worth your precious energy. When more of us show up as we are, we create a culture where a woman is free to be and look and feel however she wants.
Once you have completed the 5 steps above, Instagram should become a place to inspire and be inspired, to empower and be empowered, and to cultivate a healthy and peaceful relationship with your body.
This week's blog is written by our lovely guest blogger Lucy Day