Thoughts on Body Image and Social Media
A few weeks ago, while scrolling through Facebook status updates I noticed a self-portrait, or a “body shot”, of girl who was a friend of a friend (she had tagged my friend) taken from the hips to the shoulders revealing a very smooth flat tummy. I’ll be honest the flat tummy caught my eye long enough for me to read the caption that said something about wanting to lose weight and fight fat.
My first thought was “what fat?”. (I should also say that she didn’t look to be at an unhealthy low weight either.) Then I remembered that I have been there and can understand wanting to lose a few vanity pounds that only you notice. Nothing wrong with that.
Then, I thought a little more about the body shot and wondered how it might make other people on FB feel.
Were people motivated? Good for them.
Were people annoyed? Get over it.
But what if they were hurt? Did she have truly overweight friends who felt bad about themselves after looking at her photos what our culture might call a “perfect tummy” and declaring to her FB world that it’s time to get rid of the “fat”. Should we even care about other’s people’s feelings or should we take a “hide me then” attitude?
Would her flat tummy picture had been different if there would have been a “before” picture along side it? It wasn’t a “look at my progress!” picture. I was an essentially “before” pictures as she was claiming it was time to get rid of the very very little fat she still had clinging to her waist.
My thoughts were complex and confused.
Why did she post it?
Did she want attention?
Did she really think she was fat?
Was she another woman comparing herself to the unrealistic pictures in the media? Did her perfect tummy not look so perfect because it was taken in bathroom lighting instead of studio lighting?
Body image is so complicated.
Couple it with social media and it’s a recipe for angst rivaling that of politics.
I’ll admit it, I treat my Facebook profile differently than I treat my blog or other social media platforms.
For one, like most people I have a wide range of friends I personally know on Facebook that I don’t have on other social media platforms. I have church friends, friends from my acting class days, high school friends, taekwondo friends, college friends, ect. While I never “add” kids, sometimes a friend’s child will ask to be my friend and I accept. Because of the wide variety of “friends”, I feel a certain sense of responsibility to only post “family friendly” updates. I also make an effort to keep things positive. (If there is one thing I despise on FB, it’s passive agressive updates. Updates that you know are talking unfavorably about someone but you aren’t sure who. I’m surprised by how many adults I see doing this. GROW. UP.) While I can’t control how other people feel, I do try to be conscious of how my posts and pictures may affect my friend’s positively or negatively.
On the other hand, I assume people coming to my health blog are looking to read about food, fitness, and body image. If not they can easily click away. In the past, I have posted “progress pictures” or “body shots” on my blog without giving it much thought. On my personal Facebook page, I haven’t posted a “body shot”, a picture that was taken with the sole purpose of sharing my body composition with anyone who hasn’t hidden me. Seeing that over half of our population is obese, it’s likely that while my current body composition won’t land me on the cover of Oxygen magazine my current composition might be someone else’s, a friend’s, goal composition. Or it might very well be a body composition that a friend on FB can only emotionally “dream of” at the moment. If I show dissatisfaction with my body at a healthy body weight on FB what am I saying about my friends who are at an unhealthy body weight? And what is “healthy” and “unhealthy” anyway?
It’s all so complicated.
This post feels like a muddled mess. Welcome to my brain.
How do you feel about “body shots” on Facebook? On blogs? Is there a difference? How much sensitivity should we show others on social media? Should it change from outlet to outlet? Don’t you love the “hide” feature!
Hugs and High Fives,
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