You Don’t Have to Be What You See on Social Media

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Social media has such a defining impact on our society, despite only increasing in popularity within the past few years. This is particularly true when it comes to young adults and eating disorders.

A study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine revealed that young adults who use social media a lot are more likely to develop negative body images and eating disorders.

When I read this, it really hit me. We have become so harsh to ourselves that we take what other people say as the norm and base our values on it. But what is the true norm? Who says that we need to be a certain size?

No one.

The study made me think of all of the young adults who use social media thinking of the pictures posted online as the “ultimate” body type–when really, we are each perfectly made the way we are.

I wanted to write about this subject in hopes of encouraging young people, who are continuously looking at social media, to understand and hone in on who they should be.

Whenever you find yourself comparing yourself to someone else, take a step back. Realize that you are beautiful and perfect just the way you are. Everyone is unique. Don’t allow your uniqueness to be scrubbed away because you are trying to tap into becoming someone who you are not. 

I’m not saying it’s time to take a social media diet or to get off of all social media platforms completely. But I am suggesting that we interact with social media differently. Social media can have such a great power when we allow it to; it has the power that to help us to accept ourselves and love who we are. Unfortunately, the platforms don’t impart this positivity upon its users; therefore, we need to create positivity for ourselves in each experience and interaction that we have on these platforms.

Be careful about what you read and see. Be careful with what you allow your mind to take in. Take more time to appreciate your beauty and all that you are, for who you are. Don’t ever let someone make you feel any less beautiful than you are. I think if more people took this approach, negative body image and eating disorders would subside.

When it comes to social media and its impact, I think we simply have to be willing to change what we take into our minds and what we believe about ourselves. Don’t you agree?

A version of this piece originally appeared on Proud2Bme.org, NEDA's website for young adults.