It’s hard to escape influencers these days, whether we like it or not. All you have to do is have a casual flick through Instagram, and there they are, beckoning you on to watch their dance, recipe or get-fit-quick scheme. Their lives look ideal, don’t they? Their supposedly perfect bodies, their perfect skin, fabulous clothes, and it’s probably always sunny too, isn’t it? “So what?” you say. Yeh, it might be a bit put on, but it’s harmless right? Well, that all depends on your mindset.
Sure. At face value, watching influencers and celebs promote themselves and their wares is, in theory, harmless. But how we buy into these stories can be more harmful than you think. Despite projecting an image of happiness and fulfillment, often, people actually feel less happy about themselves after viewing. They compare themselves to what they see without realising that these stories are often, in a way, fictional constructs. People criticise their bodies by comparing them to the ones these influencers present on the ‘Gram. Guess what? That guy or girl with ‘perfect’ abs may well only look like that for the 3 seconds it takes to take that snap. Of course, you can’t get your body to look like that – they can’t either!
Every day we are bombarded with these ‘perfect’ lives and adventures, but the thing is, this is just but a small glimpse of their authentic lives. They’re only showing a tiny snapshot. You probably don’t post many sad snaps or pics of that bad hair day on your own social media, and neither do they!
Unfortunately, many people take these influencer posts at face value. By comparing their own bodies to the ones they see on Instagram, some people start to worry ( and even obsess) that their bodies don’t look as skinny or muscular. This can cause low self esteem and result in people to believe that there is something flawed with theirs. This condition is known as body dysmorphia. In turn, this can lead to eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Indeed, it’s quite possible that the influencers may be suffering themselves.
How an eating disorder is treated depends on the exact type of disorder and what symptoms you’re going through – it varies from person to person. Generally speaking, counseling or psychotherapy is used, along with nutrition guidance, and medical monitoring. In certain cases, medication is used.
What should I do if I think I have an eating disorder?
It’s best to go to your GP and tell them what you’re experiencing. They’ll likely refer you to a specialist team who are qualified to help people with eating disorders. These specialists could include:
A psychologist or other mental health professional who can provide the appropriate therapy. You might also see a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication if need be.
A dietician will help you with improving your nutrition and diet.
As eating disorders can cause problems with your teeth, you may also see a Dentist specialised in this area.
It’s important to include family members in the process, particularly if you are under age as parental supervision may be required to help ensure you follow your dietary requirements during the recovery process.
As with many processes, it’s important that all those involved communicate about your progress so steps can be adjusted and monitored as the need arises.
Dealing with an eating disorder is very treatable, but can be a long-term challenge. Even after your symptoms have subsided and you’ve got a handle on it, you may still need to keep seeing members of your treatment team at regular intervals so as to avoid a relapse.
I’ve listed some useful facts about eating disorders below. Knowing what you’re up against is key to handling any problem; body dysmorphia and eating disorders are no different. And as mentioned earlier, influencers often don’t truly resemble their posed photos — always be mindful of this.
Bodywhys is the main centre for eating disorders and well worth visiting for more information: https://www.bodywhys.ie/recovery-support-treatment/support-services-2/helpline/
Some facts about eating disorders: