Social media and media in other forms are not the root cause of eating disorders, by any stretch of the imagination, but their effects can be very powerful and damaging. Have you ever scrolled through your Facebook news feed, Instagram account, or merely flipped through a magazine or channel surfed and felt triggered by what you saw or read?
No one posts pictures of themselves on Facebook or Instagram on a “fat” day. They post pictures of themselves standing in the perfect pose, in the perfect lighting, with a well thought out perfect outfit on.
When you flip through the latest People magazine and see the movie stars in their designer gowns, with their bodies all shrink-wrapped in spanx underneath, do you think they just woke up and slipped into that gown? They spent weeks preparing (unhealthfully for most) for their moments in the spotlight.
Even when people take selfies, they aren’t posting the ones where they look like they just woke up. They post the ones where they look their best. They adorn the perfect smile or perfectly pursed lips, breasts beaming with just the right amount of cleavage. Stomach sucked in…
Looking at pop-up ads for a miracle skin cream, latest weight loss supplement or diet, clothing, etc. makes you feel like you literally cannot escape all the media madness. I often do research on weight loss fads to educate myself on the things my clients discuss with me, and then, sure enough, I get bombarded with diet ads.
And then, for those of you who are in a Facebook “recovery group”, how many times have people posted triggering comments or pictures in order to get support or attention? How does this make you feel? Did you join this group to be triggered? Of course not. You wanted additional recovery support, but sometimes you got more than you bargained for.
Youtube, Vine, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and on and on and on. There almost seems to be infinite ways to be bombarded…
So, is there a solution to all the media madness?
First off, if any form of social media or media in general is hindering your recovery, it NEEDS to be addressed. If you are sensitive to triggering images and words (like most people are), your recovery could be negatively affected by media, and changes need to be made. Remember, images and words “pop” up, and once you have seen or read them, you can’t “un see” or “un read” them. Once the damage is done, you then have to cope with all the subsequent negative thoughts and feelings that were triggered by the words or images. There is real danger here, danger to your mental health.
Take a look at the cost/benefit of what media you are involved in. What are you getting out of it vs what are its liabilities? How often are you logging off feeling worse than when you logged on?
What changes can you make? Can you un-follow some people or get out of some groups? Can you block or un-friend some people? Can you make a new account and be more selective about whose pictures you follow? Can you be more selective about which websites you visit? Can you “like” more reputable sites like Project Heal, NEDA, BeginWithin Center, and sites with positive, inspirational quotes or size friendly pictures and posts? Can you purchase or subscribe to only those magazines and apps that are non-triggering and supportive of your recovery?
Please take care of yourself in this media driven world. Remember, you are vulnerable and need to put all aspects of recovery on the top of your priority list.
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