Social media has caused a revolution in the lives of both adults and teenagers. It allows people to come together with others who live in town or across the globe. But is there a connection between social media and eating disorders? Social media and body image have become interconnected in many ways, and some of them prove negative in nature. Trellis Recovery Centers provides residential care for women and men that helps restore a healthy body image alongside healing a person’s body. We include as part of our program guidelines for how people can create a positive way of using social media in their lives.
How Social Media Causes Issues With Body Image and Eating Disorders
Social media and body image can be inextricably tied together for many users of different platforms, particularly those that focus on visual images. While most people are aware of ways to manipulate photos, including programs like Photoshop and other filters, many do not understand how often they are used by account holders. This happens on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and more. Anyone from celebrities to unknown people with just a few followers often alter their photos to appear thinner, have no wrinkles or cellulite, enhance their makeup or hair, appear more muscular, and more.
As a result, viewers often believe this type of perfection exists and feel bad in comparison. For someone with an eating disorder, it can mean always feeling that they don’t measure up to the images they see, which can increase their usage of behaviors such as restricting their food intake. In addition, many people who discover how to use filters begin to alter their own images, thus contributing to the cycle of false ideals no one can achieve.
How Does Social Media Affect Eating Disorders?
There is a connection between social media and eating disorders. Constantly viewing social media accounts that include photos and videos of people who uphold, through reality or altered images, the pursuit of achieving physical perfection can cause a lot of damage. For someone who has an eating disorder, looking at Instagram and other platforms can trigger their behaviors. Even following so-called lifestyle accounts that include diet and exercise tips can cause a person to exercise compulsively or consume fewer calories.
While eating disorders are about the underlying psychological causes rather than just trying to have the “perfect” body, image does factor in. Many social media accounts seem to exist solely to showcase a lifestyle unattainable by others. Many celebrities and others post filtered images that add to the idea that objectification of the female and male body in particular is acceptable. This can encourage impressionable people of all ages, but particularly younger ones who grew up in the age of the Internet, to focus on how they look above all else. They can end up spending years trying to look like reality show personalities or Hollywood stars but never achieve their goals.
Does Social Media Directly Cause Eating Disorders?
Using social media may not be realistically pointed to as the sole reason someone develops an eating disorder, but it can certainly contribute to this happening. For many, there is an established pattern of usage of social media and disordered eating behaviors. This pattern can begin before a person even enters high school. Also, a study showed a greater tendency to have symptoms of orthorexia nervosa in users of Instagram.
What to Avoid on Social Media
While accounts that create a dangerous intersection between social media and eating disorders usually cannot be stopped, a person can use common sense to help avoid sites and accounts that contribute to poor mental health. Tips for what to avoid on social media include:
- Avoid accounts for people who are known for filtering their images so that they appear impossibly thin, young, and perfect-looking.
- Do not follow accounts that leave you feeling bad about how you look or what you have accomplished in your life.
- Only follow fitness blogs that encourage healthy dietary changes and types of exercise. Avoid fad diets and examples of compulsive exercising.
- If a person initially likes an account or wants to give it a chance, then finds out it’s negative or makes them feel bad or overwhelmed, unfollow it.
Can Social Media Help People With Recovery From Eating Disorders?
Can a person enjoy a positive link between social media and eating disorders? Absolutely. When someone follows or creates an account that provides a positive voice in the digital community, it can help many people. Examples include social media accounts that focus on positive body image, recovery from eating disorders, and fighting back against body shaming and sexism. Some accounts encourage people to post unfiltered pictures of themselves, often with minimal or no makeup and wearing everyday clothing, to show that everyone has their own beauty without any kind of enhancement. When someone finds a social media site or account that provides positive messaging, they can share it with others and help build up that community.
Begin Your Recovery From Eating Disorders at Trellis Recovery Centers
Do you have a love/hate relationship with social media and want to know how to stop allowing it to negatively influence how you view yourself? Trellis Recovery Centers helps you explore the connection between social media and eating disorders and stop letting sites like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok keep you rooted in staying sick. We provide a homelike residential center for adults who need help overcoming their eating disorders. We create a schedule of therapy sessions that help empower you and result in healing your mind and body together.
Contact us now and talk to one of our friendly admissions staff members. We can help you become the healthy,