As young girls, we are taught that we need to monitor our appearance at all times (this is called self-objectification). Self-objectification has been amplified by the use of social media over the last couple of decades. Our public identity holds so much value today which leads us to obsess over creating perfect pictures of ourselves and the lives we live.
When we see a photo that we do not deem “good enough” we feel body shame. It’s hard enough feeling the need to compare ourselves with mainstream media celebrities, there is also that pressure to compete with our online friends, influencers, and social media personas.
There is little known about the long-term effects of social media on our health, but we do know that social media consumption is intensifying negative psychological and physical problems (like disordered eating and depression). It also increases how much we participate in self-objectification.
As a lover of social media and photographer, I am conflicted. I want to make women feel beautiful. I want them to see an image of themselves and see what I see in them. The problem is that in order to do this, my work often requires posing, perfect lighting, and sometimes photo editing. My book (which will be published this year), however, gave me the opportunity to photograph young women in a completely raw and honest way.
My subjects agreed to be photographed without the use of any photo retouching and gave me complete control to choose the images that would be used for publication. Why? Because it’s important to show that we all have human bodies. We are not perfect and that is beautiful.
We need images like these to retrain our minds and change what is culturally acceptable in the media. Body positive images are important because we need to #SEEMOREREAL so that we feel connected to each other on a human level and so we diminish how much self-objectification we participate in it.
Although it would be truly beneficial to our minds if we abandoned social media platforms altogether, that is not going to happen any time soon with our current social culture. But this is why taking social media breaks and changing the focus of your feed is so important.
Here are some feed focus suggestions:
- Find accounts that inspire your mind (travel, landscape)
- Mindless accounts that make you feel good help too (hello to all the delicious foodie and cute puppy accounts out there!)
- Follow body positive influencers (like @thebirdspapaya, @scarrednotscared, @bodyposipanda and of course your girl right here @realhappydaughter!)
- Avoid following accounts that sell products with their bodies (Kim Kardashian for example) and accounts that sell products to change your body (diets, shakes, etc.)
It’s important to look at any media with a critical eye because most of what is put out publicly has been modified. It’s become far too easy to manipulate images which means that our idea of what real is has become powerfully distorted.
As hard as it may be to do, I want to challenge you to #SEEMOREREAL and #POSTMOREREAL. You do not have to love every photo of yourself, but you should feel empowered to share a true representation of yourself. You are awesome and anyone who doesn’t think so isn’t worthy of your friendship.
So the next time you are about to post that selfie, remember that you don’t need a filter or editing to show the world how great you are. Your body is the vessel in which you get to live your life so don’t waste your energy on changing it. Live and love ladies!
For more body positive articles, click here!