The only detox you'll ever need? A social media detox! Learn why ridding your life of negative influences and curating a more diverse view of beauty can build positive body image.
de - tox / noun /
A process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances.
Ahhh the detox. Right up there with "bad" and "clean" that when used to describe food, is like nails on a chalkboard to me.
The idea of a detox is that by eating (or more commonly drinking) a diet limited to only foods perceived as pure, the body is able to eliminate accumulated toxins. According to wellness gurus everywhere, health, vitality and a Jennifer Aniston-esque body are a few days of green juice away.
In reality, our body does the cleansing and detoxing for us, as this video hilariously explains. The idea that weird concoctions of lemon juice, cayenne and maple syrup or cleansing teas hawked by Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl are any more effective than your lungs and liver is kind of absurd.
That said, there is one type of detox that I can get down with - a social media detox.
Last week in my post on the Thin Myth, I shared how the greatest barrier to health and wellness is overcoming a focus on thinness getting thin. A desire to lose weight or achieve a certain body type inevitably leads to restriction which inevitably leads to binging and emotional eating and overeating.
It's a predictable cycle.
There's no shame or blame in wanting to be thin. We're exposed to countless messages each and every day telling us big bodies are bad, and thin bodies are good. It's a problem with society, not with your thinking. In psychology, there's a theory that I think is called the social comparison theory (yay just googled it and it IS called the social comparison theory - check out that psychology degree paying off!). It postulates that as humans, we are hardwired to evaluate ourselves through comparisons to others. But society has created an artificially narrow definition of beauty that doesn't at all reflect the diversity you see in the real world, so we're comparing ourselves to an unrealistic ideal.
While there's no way to completely avoid diet-y/body shame-y messages, you can control what messages you consume on social media. With social media, you can curate a world that more accurately represents reality and how beauty should be represented - diverse, inclusive, imperfect, and meaningless, if not accompanied by inner beauty.
Social media can be dangerous - studies have linked instagram especially to disordered eating, depression and anxiety. But it can also be a powerful force for change - if used correctly. Studies have also shown exposing people to body positive messages and diverse images of beauty is one of the fastest ways to improve body confidence. Consuming more positive social media influences can change how you perceive the world, and can actually create a more positive body image.
How to go on a social media detox in three steps:
- Go to all your social media accounts - instagram, facebook, pinterest, plus all the ones I've never heard of because I'm too old. Don't forget facebook friends, because these people can have a powerful impact. Click the list of who you are following. Also, make a list of all the blogs, newsletters and magazines you subscribe to.
- Take an honest look at each influence. Does it leave you feeling inspired, joyful or create a sense of community or camaraderie? Do you feel neutral about it? Or does it make you feel insecure, inadequate or angry. If it's the latter, unfollow. There's no place in life for influences and messages that don't serve you.
- After weeding out the negative influences, actively search out inspiring, body positive social media accounts. Diversify your image of beauty. Not sure where to start? Five of my favorites are listed below!
Five Best Body Positive Social Media Accounts:
EFF YOUR BEAUTY STANDARDS // Run by seven body positive ladies and one guy (from Columbia! Woohoo!), this account features gorgeous and fashionable men and women proving style has no size.
VIRGIE TOVAR // I've learned SO much from following Virgie Tovar, a fat activist, scholar and author.
GABI FRESH // Her style is perfection. Gabi also designs a line of plus-size swimwear.
TESS HOLLIDAY (Instagram) // One of the most stunning and classically beautiful models I've ever seen. She's also the largest plus size model to get signed to a mainstream modeling agency.
BODYPOSIPANDA // For all the super cute body positive memes.
What are some of your favorite body positive and inspiring social media accounts? Feel free to share in the comments below!