According to CNN, around 61% of teenagers have experienced negative thoughts about their bodies. This large percentage occurs for many reasons, including puberty and social media.
Social media’s impact
While the rise and growth of the Internet have done some amazing things in the last decade, the rise of social media has had some awful impacts. As an 18-year-old girl myself, I can confirm that social media can have a terrible impact on my mental health and body image. People on social media lie a lot; the whole point is to sell the best possible version of yourself. Scrolling through Instagram or TikTok and seeing people who are seemly perfect it’s hard not to compare yourself to them. Now it’s not anyone’s responsibility to censor themselves because of someone’s insecurities, but seeing other people’s perfectly photoshopped bodies can bring up feelings of inadequacy.
Many disorders deal with body image and all of them are important, but I chose to talk about body dysmorphia specifically because it’s what I have a personal connection with. Not only have I struggled with it but so have a number of girls I know. Occurring to the Mayo Clinic, body dysmorphia is a mental health condition in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance. It affects about 2.5% of the population and mainly starts during teenage years.
Mayo Clinic’s definition talks about a flaw but doesn’t mention that this is a flaw only you can see. This can include looking in the mirror and thinking you’re 30 pounds bigger than you actually are or that your thighs doubled in size. Body dysmorphia causes intense feelings of anxiety. People look for any way to ”fix” it, but even the ”fix” is temporary and those feelings come straight back. This is something that I have struggled with quietly for quite a while but I can personally say it does get better.
I have composed a list of tips from me and a couple of people I know that help anyone struggling is body dysmorphia or negative body image in general.
- Focus on the qualities you do like— someone once told me to write a list of things I do like about myself. The list was short the first time I did it, but as the list grew, so did my self-confidence.
- Working out— working out can not only help take your mind off things but it can also be a great anxiety and stress reliever.
- Therapy— therapy is not an available reaction to everyone but if you can it’s a great way to help pinpoint why you think the way you do.
- Journal— journaling can be a great way to get everything off your mind and express your emotions.
- Stop comparing yourself to others— unfollow all those people who only post photoshopped pictures of themselves, go on a social media detox, and let go of all the pressure they play.
- Let go of the desire to have a perfect body— it does not exist. Choose to live a wholesome, happy, and balanced life instead.
Body dysmorphia can’t be cured overnight, but these tips have helped me. You’re not alone in your struggle, and it will get better.