There’s been a lot of talk recently about how social media and the role it plays on our self esteem and self worth. While the media platform has a lot of positive aspects, it can also be so detrimental to someone’s well being, especially when it comes to beauty standards.Recently, an Instagram model named Essena Oneill shared the reality of being an Instagram ‘model’. All of her pictures have been altered, filtered, endorsed by brands, and taken 239857 times before she got the ‘perfect’ shot. She changed all her photo’s captions to explain how much she got to wear a certain outfit and how much pain actually went into getting the perfect shot. And she did this to show everyone that none of her photos are real. She created unrealistic thigh gaps and a flat stomach so others would idolize her and envy her, and maybe even purchase brands she’s wearing to look the way she did. While there are many people who understand the power of a filter, a lot of people don’t understand how fake a social media post about yourself can be.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think every person intentionally makes themselves a completely different, ‘better’ person on every media platform. However, how many people do you see posting photos that are in the least flattering, simply because they want to share a normal occurrence in their life, or ‘what’s on their mind’. People share photos for attention. And social media platforms make it so easy for us to get attention by letting us share things about ourselves that may or may not even be true to make ourselves look like the person we actually want to be, or believe we should be. While I think it’s great that we get types of attention from others through the internet, people need to realize that the portrayal of a fabricated life can make others who are vulnerable feel insecure and that they need to achieve more in life in order to be accepted. This is the bad side of social media.
This brings me to Instagram models, and specifically, fitness models over all social media platforms. For years I have followed various fitness models through Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, you name it. While they do post a lot of helpful articles, fitness plans, meal plans, and tips, they also know that there is some marketing they have to do in order to fulfill a desire of their own – which is usually to make a sale.
In order to have a relevant presence on a social media platform that is already flooded with competition from all around the world, you need to stand out. While everyone is unique and can use that to their advantage, I see time and time again excessive editing, extreme dieting, and hair & makeup teams to make a fitness professional or model look a certain way so others desire to look that way as well. This works, and will usually sell any meal or fitness plan these people have created.
However, these fitness models are setting unrealistic standards of what you will look like when you buy their products. Most of the time they have naturally thin figures, workout once, twice or three times a day, basically starve themselves, and filter the shit out of any photo you’ll see of them online. We all have unique bodies, schedules, likes and dislikes and these standards are so unrealistic and extremely unhealthy. This isn’t anything new. We are teaching women they need to look a certain way to be happy and desirable to others.
Even in my life, I struggled with the bad of social media. It took me a while to realize that I had to love the body I had. However, I also knew I was unhappy with always feeling a little too chubby, sluggish, and unhappy every time I looked in the mirror. I was even unhappier when I would compare this to other fitness models and public figures who have unrealistic ways of looking the way they do every time there’s a camera around.
It wasn’t until I took care of my body with proper nutrition and exercise when I started to lose unwanted weight (which wasn’t really a lot at all but still made a huge impact on me), gain energy and feel ultimately happier with myself. This is also when I realized that you cannot compare yourselves to anyone else, especially a fitness professional, model, or any public figure. Their job is to look how they look, which comes with a lot of pressure in itself. We lead lives with regular 9 – 5 jobs, travels, social gatherings, and stresses of our own. Once you stop comparing yourselves to unrealistic standards of beauty, and understand that you must take care of yourself in order to look and feel as happy as they seem in photos.
Work on your health and your body and walk around in the skin you’re proud of. Something that you have worked so hard at that people will notice and something that you can be proud of every time you look in the mirror. These models can’t be fully proud of how they look, solely because they’ve been told exactly what to do, how to do it and they’ve followed these orders. They’re unhealthy mentally and physically, but filters, editing and style teams won’t show that.
Use social media for encouragement in reaching your goals. Follow reliable nutritionists, trainers, experts and professionals who’s main end goal is being healthy and happy. These will keep you motivated and educated on what’s a fitness fad and whats reality. Lastly, use social media to post your achievements so others can encourage and learn from you. What’s better than getting attention for something you’re really proud of and worked hard at. This is the good side of social media.