Time to hop in our time machines and go back 4 or 5 years…
Remember how much of an influence the media seemed to have over us during that time? Models and celebrities were not only expected to be thin, they were praised and idolized for it. Tabloids were filled with pictures of them in bikinis and details on the extreme fad diets they were following to maintain their “figures”. Eating disorders were common and “healthy” became synonymous with “skinny”.
It was rough. I remember it clearly and I remember how much it affected me and all of my friends, even at such a young age. We were convinced that we had to look like those celebrities in order to be considered beautiful and we were willing to do whatever it took to attain that. Scary? You bet.
Thankfully, things have definitely changed. More and more actors and actresses are embracing their “normal” body shapes and too-thin celebs are no longer praised for their unhealthy lifestyles. Their influence on our self-image will never completely disappear but society has definitely taken a step back and realized that what we see on TV and in magazines isn’t reality. Thank goodness.
But with this improvement we seem to have fallen into another trap…
The trap of social media.
Between Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogs, etc. we’re constantly comparing our lives with the lives of other people. Whether we think we are or not, that’s the reality of it. We see the pictures that people share and we automatically assume that their lives are summed up in just those images.
That’s not how it works.
The beauty of instagram, for example, is that we have the ability to only share the photos we choose to. On top of that, we’re able to edit them until we have a “perfect” finished product. It’s an awesome concept but it’s dangerous if we let ourselves get too caught up in it. That’s what’s happening.
Unfortunately, hashtags like #fitspo, #leanbody, #girlswithmuscle and #eatclean have begun to take over the world of instagram. We’re constantly bombarded with pictures of girls with six-packs, bragging about how many calories they burned and snapping a picture of their heart-rate monitors to prove it. While hours and hours of exercise may be okay for some people (read: athletes & figure-competitors), it’s not normal. The second we start comparing our bodies and our meals to the ones we see on social media sites, we’ve fallen into a very dangerous hole.
What scares me the most is how much it seems to be affecting young generations. It breaks my heart when I see 12 or 13 year olds with accounts that boast about “eating clean” and “training hard”. Um, I’m sorry, you’re in middle school– you should be carefree and enjoying life, not stressing about the number of macros you consume or how many hours of exercise you get. Just let yourself be young.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about finding and maintaining a healthy lifestyle and social media sites like instagram and pinterest can be extremely helpful in that regard. They can serve as inspiration and a place to monitor progress and hold yourself accountable. We just have to remember that we’re all unique and stop comparing ourselves with one another. What works for me probably won’t work for you and what works for a figure-competitor definitely doesn’t work for most of us. That’s okay.
Being “healthy” is a matter of perspective. It’s about finding a balance between diet, exercise and life. It should never become an obsession or a game of comparison. You’ve been given one body and it’s your job to take care of it and embrace every single thing about it- quirks and all. Love your body.
Heather (For The Love of Kale) wrote a beautiful post a few weeks ago about cleaning up our instagram feeds and getting rid of anyone or anything that makes us feel negative about ourselves. I do that on a regular basis and it’s an amazing feeling. It’s okay to use those accounts for inspiration but as soon as they start making you feel inferior, it’s time to move past them and find something new. Once you start filling your life with positivity you’ll truly be able to discover your inner bliss.
Here’s to embracing our bodies and escaping the comparison trap…