Friday, March 15, 2019

Body Image and Social Media: The Double-Edged Sword

Living in this digital age, most of us are well connected on social media platforms. But how do all of these hours spent behind the screens influence our own self-image? How much of a correlation is there between social media usage and mental health?

Recently, the office of Student Engagement and Support hosted an event to address various body image issues featuring speaker
Mackenzie Fox from Renewed, an eating disorder support system in Davidson County.

“We are faced with a lot of media … We are seeing a very narrow point of view of what people look like … On the flipside, social media can also be used for good, to create a supportive community … I think it can work both ways. It’s quite the double-edged sword,” Mackenzie said.

I personally quit social media a few years ago because I became consumed by it. I allowed my self-esteem to plummet as I was constantly comparing myself to others online. It really seemed to worsen my depression; I wasn’t using it to my advantage. This is ironic now considering that I work as the social media writer for Vol State. I plan to return to it soon for various reasons, but with a new mindset.  

Social media can be a place to build a sense of belonging and community, and that’s how it should be used. It’s an essential tool for networking, but it’s important to keep in mind that social media isn’t reality.

“I’ve struggled with my body image my entire life, I’ve had multiple eating disorders and it caused long term health problems for me … Maybe it’s just the people that I follow on social media, but for me it’s really empowering to see so many different body types on social media,” said a student who wished to remain unnamed.

“I think as a society, we tend to focus on the negative more than the positive, so we look at it like, ‘oh social media is tearing down women,’ but I think women tear down women in general, social media is just a tool to exacerbate it quicker,” said student and model Charika White.

So, if you’re struggling with your own body image when you log onto social media, perhaps those whom you choose to follow are not in alignment with your own best interest. Try following people who inspire you instead. It’s up to us to be conscious consumers, follow wisely.

-By Rachel Keyes

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