Do photos of friends & co-workers trigger self-esteem bombs? You’re not alone.
When it comes to comparing ourselves to unrealistic images, most of us wouldn’t think to include our Facebook timelines. But maybe we should. According to the Center For Eating Disorders at Sheppard Pratt in Maryland “600 Facebook users, ages 16 to 40 about their body image and self-esteem. More than half said that Facebook makes them more self-conscious about their bodies and weight. And, surprisingly enough, men were some of those with the most negative feelings”.
The last 10 years have seen a dramatic rise in images, social media and instant sharing. We’re only starting to see how this drastic shift is affecting our behavior, our sense of the world around us and our self-esteem. Do you find yourself carefully untagging photos where you think you look ‘fat’, are making a ‘face’, are too ‘shiny’, are showing some muffin top, are at a bad angle or is otherwise maybe unflattering (to you)? Hey, we all do it - I’m not judging. But while we’re all trying to put our best face forward, we may be guilty of sending out an unrealistic portrayal of the real US. It’s true: not every picture is flattering, but we don’t always look ‘awesome’ in real life. So why hide it online?
Digital cameras + social media = acute hyperawareness of our “image”. It’s become currency, and every photo taken carries the threat of being posted somewhere. This knowledge makes us more likely to screen our photos, pose a certain way, make ‘camera ready’ faces, ask to see photos for approval and remove photos we believe to be unflattering, even if the photos themselves may not be all that bad.
We’ve also become very particular and careful about what kind of image we want to represent us on our profile pic or what we want others to see … which may not be ‘us’ at all. The majority of Facebook photos have been through an editing process even without photoshop: they are carefully chosen, planned, tagged (or untagged), filtered, cropped, “grouped” & presented in a particular way. A highlight reel, if you will. We tend to avoid posting the images we don’t want people to see. Images that make you ‘jealous’ or may incite negative self-thoughts have been carefully selected from dozens of others that didn’t make the cut (or were deleted on the spot thanks to digital cameras). Comparing ourselves to the Facebook photos may be just as unrealistic a practice as comparing us to women in magazines.
We focus a lot on photoshopping in the media, but perhaps we should focus a little more on our own image ‘editing’.
If we want the media to start portraying women in a more diverse light, maybe we should start with ourselves. Would letting our friends see us in our less than flattering light really be all that bad?
Interesting thoughts on Facebook, eating disorders & body image via BlissTree
Excerpt via Blisstree.com
“It’s really easy to scroll through the online photo albums and compare how we looked year over year. Friends tag us in old high school and college photos when we were perhaps thinner and younger looking. And that can be depressing. In fact, almost one-third of the respondents said they felt “sad” when comparing photos of themselves and their friends.
Facebook is also way too easy for us to compare ourselves to others. Let’s face it, we all tend to post photos when we’re looking our best. We pose for every camera shot now, knowing that all of our online friends could see it. We take photos of ourselves in front of the mirror posing for the shots. And we tend to put only our most flattering ones online. This leads to a lot of comparing the way so-and-so looks to the way we look. According to the survey, 44% wished they had the same body or weight as a friend on Facebook. And that’s just sad.
The answer doesn’t necessarily lie in telling people to quit using Facebook, because that will likely never happen. It does lie in hoping more of us can be “real” on Facebook and post more real-life photos and not so many posed, “perfect” ones. It also lies in avoiding any negative body image talk because that just fuels more feelings of inadequacy for everyone.