Being in shape and keeping up with fitness is becoming more and more popular. The fit, “ideal” body is increasingly showing up on all platforms of social media. Seeing images of celebrities or fitness gurus is only creating more pressure and unrealistic expectations for those who are part of social media.
Following fitness gurus can trigger feelings of social comparison and inferiority. Instead of striving to look like someone who is filtered, shown at their best angle and in their best lighting, we all need to accept ourselves for who we are.
“The ‘selfie’ culture is another example of being excessively concerned with physical attributes to the neglect of other, more meaningful qualities about a person,” said Carolyn Pennington in her article “The Impact of Social Media on Body Image.”
“Yes, of course, these days there is an added pressure on young men and particularly women to look a certain way when there are so many idealistic images of what your ‘supposed’ to look like out there,” said Silvina Cox, the owner and nutritionist at Silvina Cox Nutrition and Wellness.
There is better recognition of the fact that there are many tools professionals use for the images put in magazines and television. However, with social media, there is a perception that the images seen are more “realistic” and taken in real time.
“It’s more widely recognized that the covers you see on magazines and commercials are greatly altered with things like Photoshop and lighting and a crew of many people,” Anne Stone, a nutritionist in Thousand Oaks, said. “But in regards to the various social media used now, they make it seem like they are taken by one person at that specific moment the picture is posted, so it makes it more realistic for people looking at it or liking it.”
Even though social media gives an illusion of people taking their pictures without any retouching, there are plenty of filters and separate applications that can enhance photos. The goal of many who put up their fitness photos is also to set forth images of them looking their best.
“I think it is important to note that pictures also posted on social media aren’t the only ones taken. Usually, people take many, many photos of themselves and choose just the right one to post because social media is all about presenting your best self,” Cox said.
Many fitness gurus and celebrities don’t necessarily have the intention of setting high standards for others. They even use their photos to inspire their fans and followers to be healthier and get more fit. However, they unintentionally create a more unrealistic expectation of what someone is supposed to look like.
“I wouldn’t say that people posting pictures of themselves and retouching them is their way of putting others down. Usually, even the intentions of athletic people and people in the spotlight in general are to motivate and inspire their followers to do the same as they do,” Cox said.
“You can’t make someone feel a certain way that they don’t want to feel, so I don’t think that these fitness gurus intentionally set these standards that are just impossible to reach,” Stone said.
Unfollowing or unsubscribing from people who post pictures of themselves all the time allows you to feel like a weight is lifted off your shoulders. Unfollowing fitness pages actually helped reduce the amount of pressure I felt to attain the same body shape of the people I was following.
“If it feels too discouraging to constantly see them, then I think unfollowing people is a healthy choice to make for yourself. If it creates a sense of burden and desperation, then trying to eliminate it from your life as much as you can is a good path. Unfortunately, you can’t fully escape social media since it’s such a big part of life in general nowadays,” Stone said.
It’s important to make sure your mind is clear, rather than fogged up by unnecessary and unrealistic ideals of what your body should look like.
Published March 16th, 2016