Trigger warning: discussion of eating disorders, body image struggles, diets
Ever look in the mirror and feel dissatisfied with your body? It’s so easy nowadays to feel out of place if you have a different body from the ones inundating social media, from models to actors to influencers, the list is endless. It can sometimes play with our self-esteem and make us feel inferior to others just based on our looks, and this can be detrimental to how we see ourselves in the mirror and for our body image confidence. However, this cycle of comparing yourself to others can eventually lead to some serious side effects, like distorting your idea of health and your relationship with food and exercise.
It’s sometimes beneficial to look at other people’s accounts online to inspire yourself to try new workouts and/or cook new recipes, but we do have to be aware of the increasing influence of what we see online on our lifestyle choices. It isn’t just about looking at some photos anymore, those can have unforeseeable effects in the long term for our health. I’m guilty myself of socially comparing myself to other users online that I haven’t even met in real life, but I then think to myself that everybody is built differently and health is not based on a number on a scale, on a tape measure or on the number of calories you eat.
A small thing that helped me change my outlook on body comparison was to unfollow any accounts that made me feel any type of inferiority or negatively about my body and food choices, and I swapped them for body positive accounts. These can help you build a better relationship with your self-esteem and your body type, besides having a more positive outlook on health and life.
As a result, I combined a list of 3 Instagram accounts to follow if you ever need a pick-up when you’re feeling low about yourself, cause we all experience these moments at some point and it’s easy to forget how lucky we are when we are inundated by overly retouched images all the time.
Danae Mercer is a freelance journalist who edited content for magazines, such as Women’s Health Middle East. She also writes pieces for a variety of publications worldwide, like CNN Travel, The Guardian and The Sunday Times just to name a few.
I first discovered her Instagram account when I was scrolling through my Explore page, and saw a post about how poses can make your body look differently online. It can be easy to forget how online photos of people posing can make their body look so different. This can be caused by different poses as well as lighting and photoshop.
I like her account because she posts content where she compares different poses and shows how to be proud of your ‘flaws’ (as labelled by society) that are actually normal features to be found on anybody, not just female. This can vary from cellulite, to bloating, stretch marks and many other little things that can be a source of insecurities for individuals. As a result, her content is inspiring since she posts photos of ‘real’ bodies of women and not just airbrushed versions of ourselves; she also condemns the diet industry for shaming normal bodies as well as dangerous trends where health is measured by how small your waist is or how much you eat. Her account could be useful for someone struggling with diets and can help you adopt a new perspective of body confidence.
Bree is an Australian woman and I came across her content when I saw one of her videos where she described what she ate in a day to stay fit and healthy. I instantly became interested in her journey and what pushed her to share her lifestyle on Instagram. Her account features various videos of colourful and tasty recipes as well as photos comparing herself to how she was when she was obsessed with losing weight and how her body changed for the better now.
She shares on Instagram and her YouTube channel her journey of recovery from her eating disorder. She talked about she lost 20kg and, after reaching this, was then fixated on losing as much weight as possible taking this for the worst turn. She shared how she felt unhappy during this time of being seriously underweight and not eating enough to fuel her body, as well as losing her period. When the latter happened, she described this as a wake-up call for her to start reversing her diet and seeking help from a nutritionist to plan meals to get back on track to having a healthy weight and she gained back 7kg.
She now describes herself as having a healthier outlook on life and having a more realistic idea of what health entails, and that it doesn’t depend on how much you weigh. It’s about enjoying your food and not feeling guilty about it as well as exercising how you want and not just as a punishment for your body. You should be happy and satisfied when nourishing and moving your body, and stop comparing yourself to others because everybody is built differently.
Alex Light is another inspiring figure who shared her story about struggling with dieting and body image. She shared her story in a piece for Grazia, where she reflected on her time as a fashion writer and how her life might have looked glamorous from the outside, with party events, conversations with celebrities and invitations to exclusive events, but it was far from that. She said that those months were among her darkest times, as she struggled with dieting and developed a problematic relationship with food.
She said that her close relationships with the fashion industry contributed to her belief that health and confidence equaled a thin body type. Along her recovery journey, she realized that the fashion industry was discriminating against women who have normal sizes and encouraged this association between thinness and self-worth.
Although it took her time to recover from various eating disorders and be comfortable talking about them, she found Instagram to be a platform where her voice could be heard and supported. Among her followers there are many women who experienced similar journeys, thus inspiring Alex to continue sharing content condemning the oppressive nature of diet culture and encouraging others to recognize that the problem stems from societal unrealistic body standards rather than themselves.