Fuinneamh, Opinion

How Social Media Has Impacted My Self Image

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Imagine a life where you roll out of bed, throw on any old thing, and off you go about your day. You’re not fixated on how many calories were in your breakfast or wasting time squeezing a beauty blender under the tap to apply foundation to cover any flaws.

When I reflect on my life before social media was part of it, that’s how I remember it.

With each new version of the iPhone comes a new version of myself, one with more insecurities and more worries centred around my appearance. We have been conditioned to scroll idly and look at flawless supermodels all day long and not bat an eyelid, and we somehow expect it not to affect our subconscious.

Picture a situation where you’re sitting on your couch in your sweats.  There is nothing wrong with this picture, you’re probably very comfortable, happy, and relaxed.

Now picture thousands of gorgeous picture-perfect supermodels walk into the room. How would you feel? You’d probably want to run and hide yourself.

While we acknowledge and celebrate the beauty of the online world, we are only seeing the best possible version of them online, a version that doesn’t always exist.

When we are constantly seeing, and double tapping, on their gorgeous photos it can make us look at ourselves negatively and think “I wish I had her X, Y and Z” and this is where the real problem begins.

I have had thoughts while looking at pictures of Kendall Jenner, a 5’ 10” supermodel, that have gone like: ‘Okay, if I work out every day and eat under 1000 calories, I could have her figure in a few months.’

For context, I am 5’ 2” so I have already set myself an unobtainable goal because I will never have the figure of a woman who is almost a foot taller than I am.

It’s a well-known fact that Instagram, and many other apps, will put target ads in your timeline for products you’ve spoken about or searched online (or in my opinion, even just thought about – but social media paranoia is a whole other issue) and I have spent most of my twenties buying into it repeatedly and expecting this automatic 2.0 version of myself if I buy that product.

Not only does this hurt your bank account, but it hurts your mind when it doesn’t magically make you skinnier or make your skin look airbrushed, like it said it would.

Social media has had a positive impact on my life too. I’ve been able to keep in contact and follow the lives of friends and family living abroad.

Seeing my friends bring children into the world while being miles away is something that I will always be thankful to social media for. Being able to see movie, book and restaurant recommendations from others is another very special side of social media that I would miss if it were to go.

Over the last year I have periodically deleted all my social media apps for a few days, and I cannot express how much of a difference this makes.

I recognise it is a problem that I can only disconnect from social media if I remove apps from my phone, but I am making a more conscious effort to unplug and be present in my daily life.

Do yourself a favour by deleting some of your apps, even just for the weekend. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll get done, and your mind will thank you.

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