We had just received family pictures back from my cousin’s bar mitzvah. I had worn a black, satin gown with a white stripe across the chest. I remember feeling particularly beautiful that night. When my mom called for me to come look through the picture album, my eyes went straight to me. I was sickened by how fat I thought I appeared. It was at that moment I decided I needed to make changes, both with food and exercise.
One picture of myself. One angle. One moment. One conclusion. I determined I hated the way I looked, compared myself to others, and became motivated to do something about it. That one split second of assessing myself in a family picture quickly triggered behaviors that would soon become destructive to my body, mind, and life.
And, that was far before social media.
Today, we are paraded with an infinite amount of photos between Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter. For so long, I have referred to Facebook as “Fakebook.” Why you ask? I’ll be honest. I am guilty of only sharing pictures that give an illusion of pure happiness, love, perfection, and beauty. What I don’t share is that out of the 487 pictures I took of my three kids, 486 illustrated chaos, dysfunction, and a lot of faces other than a smiley one. And, mind you, to get that one smiley picture, I bribed them with candy bars, treats, ice cream, or heck, whatever they wanted.
Social media is not real life. Let’s be honest. We went on vacation, and sure we got some awesome pictures of our family at the beach, smiling, playing and having a blast. And, we did. But, between those moments, there was an exceptional amount of whining, yelling, fighting, misbehaving, and disrespecting. But, if you, as a follower to my page, see pure peacefulness and pleasure, you can’t help but compare your life to my representation of my life. And, who wouldn’t be distraught? Concerned? Alarmed? Though my life may be perceived as paradisiacal on social media, I am human, and it can be a misrepresentation of reality.
The same idea goes for how we view physical appearance. Naturally, I compare myself to others as I scroll through my accounts. Why doesn’t she have wrinkles? How the hell does she look like that after just having a baby? A 6-pack? Shit, I have loose skin and a completely untoned abdomen. How is she so tan? Look at those legs–her thighs don’t touch. Why are mine rubbing together and making music as I walk?
I must be fat. I must be ugly. I must be unhappy. These are conclusions I regularly make after scrolling through other people’s pictures. Social media can be dangerous if misunderstood. This woman has shown why.
She writes, “Instagram isn’t reality, it’s a snap of a second into someone’s life. It’s just one photo, please don’t let that ruin your confidence cause you are absolutely remarkable and there’s no point in wanting to be or look like someone else.” And, I could not agree more.
One photo triggered a severe health condition. Do not let a photo elicit negative feelings about yourself that could potentially lead to unhealthy behaviors or disorders, like it did for me. Smile. Love yourself. And, life wouldn’t do as fun if it didn’t have those challenging moments!