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After 23 years of being alive, I'd like to think I know myself pretty well. I know that I love strawberries, need to set up at least three alarms for myself in the morning, and generally try to avoid discussing controversial subjects on the internet (because if I have to debate with someone, I'd much rather not do it in all capslock).

Yet for a while now, there has been something bugging me for a while about Essena O'Neill's recent decision to denounce social media. But before I get started, let me say that I do appreciate her message to social media users. So much of what we see on social media is contrived. And while this isn't necessarily a bad thing (contrived food photos? I'm all for it. Unless it promotes orthorexia), it has been proven time and time again that continuous exposure to photos which present unrealistic body standards can result in body dissatisfaction, feelings of inadequacy, biased perceptions of how much one should eat, and even eating disorders. There are too many comments that read "I want to be you" or "#goals," and there are too many people who don't realize that what we see often isn't an accurate depicition of reality (as Essena O'Neill has demonstrated). With that being said, I applaud Essena for realizing and understanding the impact of her "fake" photos and showing me and millions of others that things are not always as they seem, especially when it comes to social media.
However, as a willing user of social media, I would love to see the conversation shift towards acknowledging, discussing and breaking down the overarching social values and issues (and even cognitive ones) that play into unrealistic body standards. Take into consideration the "bias for beauty" (a cognitive bias in which physically attractive individuals are rewarded both socially and biologically)  or the "what is beautiful is good" stereotype, which is an irritional but deep-seated belief that individuals who are physically attractive also have other desirable attributes such as higher intelligence, confidence, social skills, and even moral virtue (think about every Disney movie protagonist and antagonist...except for Frozen). But when it comes down to it, the real problem behind unrealistic body standards is ultimately the media. And whether that's social media, or any other sort of media that we are exposed to, we are told again and again that the perfect and most ideal body type is one that looks something a little like this. But instead of blaming social media for being what it is—a channel whose purpose is to enable a community to create and share content—why aren't we talking about the bigger picture? Social media has incredible potential as a creative outlet to be able to inspire individuals and encourage them to produce awesome, well, stuff. It also has the potential to initiate real change and reach people from all corners of the globe in doing so. So, intead of blaming social media for being, well, social media, why aren't we asking media users and influencers to maybe stop validating and perpetuating the idea of a perfect body? Let's stop using the hashtag #bodygoals and create a shift in the way we think about our bodies. Think body acceptance. NOT body shaming.

Over and over again, I see Essena's message being shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram--you name it. But without social media, how would we be able to hear Essena O'Neill's message? Let's change the way we use social media. And let's change the way we love ourselves and others. Yay or nay?

15 comments

  1. yay thankyou! couldn't agree more, keep inspiring us alyssa <3

    breepluse.blogspot.com

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  2. Totally agree! Couldn't have said it better myself.

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  3. I couldn't agree more with you! Social media - like everything else - can be used in both good and bad ways. The way you use it and perceive it is only up to you. Great post! x

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  4. I agree. It is up to us how we use our accounts on social media and lets hope that we all use it wisely ;) Good post.

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  5. Agree, it's about attitude and perception, individual or collective, if we can change this for the positive, the platform that we use doesn't matter!

    Vivian | LIVE . IN . LOVE

    ~

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  6. YAY!
    Yes, you captured the main message perfectly. Social media is a powerful tool, and one that can be used negatively (as Essena pointed out). However, it can also be a hugely positive one if used correctly. Nailed it girl, let's get to the real problem, not the accessories that can be used by this body image monster.

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  7. I completely agree with you!
    xx

    http://www.mybeautrip.com

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  8. Social Media is a good platform to commission. Modern time social media is most popular topic and most of people use it. Thanks

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  9. Agreed! It's not social media's fault, the cause of the problem is much much more complicated and can't be blamed on something so simple. Thank you for your differentiated thoughts on this. Love to read something like this <3

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  10. How does this post have only 14 comments. I am absolutely interested in the matter from a philosophical point of view. Odd? Not really. Society, view of the world, aesthetics and thinking are MY cup of tea. You explained some key concepts very well in your post and I couldn't agree more!

    Barbs
    (ps, if you want to read a little bit more about beauty and society you might find this post interesting: http://300daysofengland.blogspot.com.au/2014/01/does-skin-care.html )

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