Social media and its influence on body image in Ireland

Eadaoin Fitzmaurice

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Social media is influencing how we think about our bodies.

A recent survey found that 40% of millennials choose their holiday destination based on how “instagrammable” it is. The fact that we would chose a place based on the pictures we can take and share, presents the scary reality of how much we value social media in our everyday lives.

body image -harlandspinksphoto
body image -harlandspinksphotobo

Social media is one of the biggest influencers in the world and as a result of staring at a screen all day and seeing flawless models, their meals and airbrushed images, many people struggle with body image issues.

What is body image?

The Circular caught up with Fiona Flynn from Bodywhys, The Eating Disorders Association of Ireland, to learn a little bit more about body image and the overpowering influence social media has on it.

Fiona defined body image as:

“body image really is just how somebody feels about how they look. If somebody has a positive body image they will be happy or comfortable with how they look. Somebody with a negative body image gets hung up on a part they don’t feel very happy with and that can sometimes hinder them and hold them back from enjoying life in general”

girls body - Samantha Jade Royds
girls body – Samantha Jade Royds

Fiona believes that social media has a huge impact on how we think we should look and often times we can forget that the content we see online can be, and usually are, filtered and airbrushed.  A recent study by My World found that body image issue can link to depression and self harm, and substances and alcohol misuse. It is important that we understand the importance of learning to love our bodies, and spending less time obsessing over images depicted in the media.

Fiona suggests:

“the first thing is to notice how different types of media make you feel and if things have a bad influence, you should lessen your spending time on these sites or accounts to prevent social media having control over you”

She also recommends not to focus on the bad things about your body, and to appreciate the good. Some people find that writing down something good about themselves and their body has really improved their perception of their appearance. A report from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs found that 77% of Irish adolescents ranked body image as being important to them. Negative body image is considerably more prevalent among girls than boys. When asked about what influences their body image, comparison with others ranks as the most negative influence on girls’ body image and bullying as the most negative influence on boys’ body image. (Source)

We sat down with Fiona to learn some more:

If you would like to learn more about body image, social media and eating disorders, you can visit www.bodywhys.ie

 

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Eadaoin Fitzmaurice