Open Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram.
Scroll through who you follow and the websites you visit. The pages you like. The ads on the webpages. Any of these look familiar?
“Lose weight! New diet. Miracle weight-loss remedies…”
“Low-cal. Low-carb recipes…”
“Ways to Get Healthy Fast. Quick fat loss…”
“Get bulky in 10 days! Click here for the secret…”
Words have a powerful bearing on how we view others and ourselves. If these are the kinds of things we look at as soon as we open our laptops, even the most resilient person might give in to public opinions over time.
Think about it. You create an Instagram to document your healthy lifestyle. So “fitandthinamy” snaps pics of her grilled chicken and back/biceps workouts. That in-and-of-itself isn’t bad.
But what happens when “fitandthinamy” gains muscle from lifting and people make ignorant comments about her weight gain? What happens when she gets a busier schedule and can’t make it to the gym for three days? When her mom has her 80th birthday and “fitandthinamy” eats pizza and cake? When she travels overseas and can’t exercise or eat her prepared lunch boxes for 10 days?
When you have an online identity to live up to, sometimes we fall into the trap of making that our sole identity. Social media followers often expect one thing from each user, turning them into just “fit” or “thin” or “muscular”—instead of acknowledging the people are behind those usernames that have to endure the diversity of life.
“Fitandthinamy” then feels the pressure to conform to a role. One she might have initially wanted, but one that is not truly “Amy.” She becomes a physical object, not an unique collection of personal attributes. “Amy” may have a fit body, but will she see herself that way when she eats those cookies or misses a week of her regime?
Buzzwords like “diet,” “weight-loss,” and “low-carb” are everywhere. Just look at a news homepage and try not find a health-related article that preaches for weight changes (whether losing fat or gaining for muscle). Face it. There’s no such thing as a “real” woman or “real” man.
Body image is a person’s perception of his or her physical appearance, and can easily become distorted. As a society, we’re so focused on what others think of us. How they interpret our own “fitandthinamy” personas. If we fail to maintain their perceptions, then we undertake it as a sign of failure. That’s where eating disorders come in.
Young women reported being startled and experiencing increased heart rate when confronted with body words, versus neutral words. It was almost like they had to have a defense mechanism when confronted with subjects about body image. The results suggest these stressful and anxious reactions lead to negative thoughts about one’s own body, contributing to eating disorder symptoms especially in college-age students.
In order to have a better body image, we need to focus on the positives as well as the negatives. If we spend our time only praising our strong legs or healthy choices, then we neglect what makes us human. We are going to have mess-ups. We are going to have bad days. Accept what makes you strong, and don’t let your weaker aspects overshadow that. But acknowledge the bad too. Let it strengthen you. Embrace what makes you human.
Get on your social media again.
How many users do you follow that only post one thing about themselves? That girl who only shows her salads. That guy who only shows his best workouts. Now, after looking at those, how do you feel about yourself?
Maybe it’s the chance to make a change. To unfollow possible triggers, and find new ones that accepts us just as we are. Not buzzwords like “thin,” “muscular,” or “fit.” Not people who only eat “low-carb” or “low-calorie.”
Words are powerful, but there are so many of them. Why confine our existence to only one?
What body buzzwords annoy or trigger you?
What do you think about the Reebok “Be More Human” commercial?
What are you thinking about this Thursday?