I have had quite the rocky relationship with social media throughout the years, as I’m sure many people have, and let me tell you, it’s still not always sunshine and rainbows. There are some days where I utilize social media as a tool to encourage a positive mindset and to feel empowered. However, I still have plenty of days where I harness the toxicity that social media has to offer, validating my insecurities and fueling my doubtful thoughts.
More recently though, I’ve noticed that I get pretty jazzed (that’s right, jazzed) when I fall into an endless scroll through my feed on my different socials. This is because, as of recently, I’ve cultivated my feed to be full of real, beautiful, empowering, strong, brave and thoughtful individuals who I can relate to and look up to.
It might sound silly, but putting thought behind who I expose my impressionable mind to on social media has majorly shifted my outlook on myself, my morals, and my life. Dramatic? Maybe. But, it’s proven to be true so far! I’m going to let you know all about this change I’ve made over the recent weeks. However, of course, before we jump into the good we have to talk about how I got over the bad.
I’m 22, turning 23 this year, so I’m in that weird generation where Skip-It’s and Tamagotchi’s were my main priority when I was little but, as I entered my teenage years, social media became more and more prevalent in my everyday life. However, when I was really little, the only media I was ever really exposed to was traditional media, and it definitely was not inclusive like social media is today.
Growing up, there were little to no confident plus-size women being represented in the traditional media, at least none that I was exposed to. Any plus-size woman that was at the forefront of entertainment when I was younger fit into one of three categories. They were either:
- Featured on the news and in tabloids for being a “train wreck” or “letting themselves go”.
- Doing everything in their power to lose that extra weight and eventually become a spokesperson for popular dieting companies.
- Depicted as the jolly, goofy side-kick that no one took seriously on TV and in movies.
That’s all that I had to go off of. I was under the impression that if I were to be fat for the rest of my life, I was either destined to be the goofy fat side-kick or destined to be ashamed of stepping foot in public looking that way. Being so young and so impressionable, this really took a toll on the way I viewed myself. In fact, some things still stick with me to this day, like always being considered the “goofy” one. From quite a young age, I was taught that your weight was essentially what your identity was centered around and that your weight had the most influence in your life over any other quality.
When social media started to become more prevalent in my teenage years, things didn’t start looking up just yet. You see, when I was 14/15 years old, one of the most popular social media sites was called Tumblr. Now, Tumblr was great for a lot of reasons, and I spent hours scrolling through it for entertainment on the daily. However, Tumblr was also something I used to fuel my toxic thoughts. I don’t know how popular Tumblr is today, so if you’re reading this and don’t know what it is, it was essentially a website designed for blogging, but in a much more casual sense. Most people, like myself, just used it as an “escape” by scrolling through endless photos, videos and GIFS all day long.
Although most of my scrolling on Tumblr was harmless, I would use it on my darkest days to fuel the hatred I had for my body. I would spend countless hours scrolling through the “collar bones” tag, the “thigh gap” tag, looking up “skinny girl outfits” and gawking at “Tumblr girls”. I wanted so badly to possess those physical qualities, to look like them, to feel pretty, to be accepted or (even better) to be worshiped.
I wanted so badly to look at myself the way that I looked at those perfectly posed and filtered girls on Tumblr, someone who was envied for their body and their beauty. But, since I didn’t possess any of those qualities, I attributed myself to being beyond ugly and worthless. I spent plenty of days panicking anytime I would look at myself in the mirror or see myself in a photo, and plenty of nights crying myself to sleep wishing I would wake up in the morning and be “fixed” or “normal”.
Ironically, as I got into the later years of being a teenager, social media actually had an amazingly positive impact on my body-acceptance and self-love. Around the ages of 16/17, the plus-size community started gaining traction in the social media world and was slowly encroaching on the content I was consuming.
For the first time in my life I was seeing representations of my body and my journey in the media. I was finally seeing women who were plus-size, proud and felt beautiful about themselves. Even if they weren’t completely in love with their body, they were documenting their journey towards at least accepting it. Finally I was being shown that being plus-size isn’t the end all be all to life, and that being plus-size, or any size for that matter, does not take away from your beauty.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much this positively impacted me, but let’s just say it completely turned my world upside down. All those horrible and nasty ways I was taught to view myself and my body had been challenged, and they were backing down from the battle at hand. I was finally able to begin embracing and appreciating my body for what it was instead of constantly trying to make excuses for it or hide it away from the world. I could finally start living. Like I always say, I still have my down days like everyone else, but I’ve learned to appreciate myself and my life so much more all thanks to the body-positive movement on social media.
So, I mentioned in the beginning how the changes I’ve made to my social media habits have got me feeling better than ever, and I’m going to share those with you now. Since starting this blog, I’ve created an Instagram account dedicated solely to the blog (follow me @christinemarieblogs if you’d like). When I created this new account, I wanted to focus on following those in the blogging/influencer community who could really add value and inspiration to the content I want to create, the way I look at myself and the way I look at my life. In doing this, I’ve had to put a lot more thought behind who I commit to pressing that follow button for and, by actually stopping and evaluating what impact following a certain individual can have on my life, it has been a huge game changer.
Now, forgive me, but I’m going to get a little preachy here. I used to hit the follow button like it was my day job. I was mindlessly following people on the daily and, while that might seem like a completely normal and mundane action, it can actually have a lot greater impact on your well-being than you think. In my opinion, that simple little press of the follow button actually has so much power behind it for two reasons. Let’s start with the person who you’re following. Every time you give a person a follow, it gives them a little power and it strengthens their voice just a little bit. Sometimes, this can be fantastic. However, other times it can be extremely harmful to yourself and others depending on what the intention is behind their content.
This brings me to my next point. Hitting that follow button is so powerful because, by doing so, you’re allowing that person to have influence on your life and your thoughts (hence the term “influencer”). Whether you actively know it or not, every picture that you see, caption that you read, video that you watch and audio that you hear leaves an impression on you, and can easily shape an mold your outlook on yourself, your life, and your views and opinions.
By making this change to my social media habits and by being more mindful in terms of who I follow, I notice that I log off of social media platforms feeling more confident and uplifted rather than critical of myself or my surroundings like I used to. So, going forward, there are two things I want you to keep in mind about your social media habits:
- BE MINDFUL OF WHO YOU FOLLOW: Before you follow someone on whatever social media platform you happen to be on, put some thought into what this person can add to your feed and ultimately your life. If it’s positive, hit that follow button baby! If you think it could bring envy or discontent into your way of looking at things, or if their content can bring harm upon others, maybe skip out on giving them that precious follow.
- DIVERSIFY YOUR FEED: This is something I haven’t done until recently but WOW what a difference it has made. Whether it be people of a different race, gender, size, physical capability, or at a different stage in life, diversifying your feed makes things a lot more fun to scroll through, as well as provides a lot more insight to different parts of life you might not have been familiar with previously. Overall, diversifying your feed allows for the opportunity to learn and grow in both knowledge and compassion.
Lastly, I just want to quickly say, if you have chosen to follow me, thank you. I appreciate it more than you know and I’m happy you trust me and the content I produce to add something of value to your day or to your life. Let me know in the comments or over Instagram who some of your favourite accounts to follow are, and I’ll be sure to check them out.
Thanks for reading!