Let’s face it, social media can be amazing. Snap Chat allows us to send photos and videos instantly. Instagram is the world’s leading photo-sharing platform. Facebook allows us to check in with friends and family and document our lives.
These three platforms focus on pictures – and a picture is worth a thousand words, so they say.
But what about pictures that are not worth anything to us? Photos that are actually detrimental to our health?
I’m talking about a phenomenon I like to call the Comparison Game, a particularly nasty form of self-doubt that can lead to self-loathing, lowered self esteem, and overall crappy mental health.
Social media can be a fun way to connect with others – but for someone with body dysmorphia, too much time spent on sites like Instagram, Snap Chat and Facebook can get us stuck playing the Comparison Game.
Body Dysmorphia is a distinct mental disorder in which a person is preoccupied with an imagined physical defect or a minor defect that others often cannot see. As a result, people with this disorder see themselves as “ugly” and often avoid social exposure or turn to plastic surgery to try to improve their appearance. – Web MD
Luckily, I don’t have this condition myself. But I am in close contact with someone who does – and she struggles with it every waking second.
It’s a constant battle between her self confidence and the pressures of the outside world.
Most of us feel these pressures to some degree – but this mental condition multiplies doubts and insecurities and makes them seem inescapable.
Everyone, especially those dealing with body dysmorphia, need to be constantly aware of exposure to images that exacerbate feelings of inadequacy.
The Comparison Game
Instagram models get paid to market products. Snap Chat Discover offers tons of different videos, some of which feature models and impeccably beautiful people. Even Facebook allows us to screen what we show to the world.
So when I caught my friend with Dysmorphia scrolling through Snap Chat, I paid attention.
She scrolled through video after video of gorgeous ladies like Gigi Hadad and Kim Kardashian. All of these women shared two things in common – they were filtered, and they were perfect.
For someone with Dysmorphia, this social media behavior could be disastrous.
“I can’t help but compare myself to them,” my friend admitted to me. It’s almost like she was asking for punishment; but she couldn’t help it. She didn’t even notice she was doing it!
That’s when it dawned on me: there was an immediate solution to address this ruinous behavior.
My Simple (Not Easy) Solution
Odds are, if you feel dissatisfied after your late-night social media binge, it could be from comparing yourself to all the perfect images you’ve seen. After which you are left feeling inadequate and empty.
My first suggestion? Put down your mobile phone.
Better yet, delete those apps that make you feel down. That’s right, get them off your phone, off your computer. Remove the temptation to compare altogether.
I’ve tried this and it works! I limit my Facebook time, because it used to drain my energy. I would compare myself to all the perfect snap shots of everyone’s flawless lives. Why didn’t I do ______, or work at ______, or travel ______, or look like ______?
It’s so easy to believe the idea that if you change – a few pounds lighter, a little more muscular, a bit tanner – you would be happier. But I’ve discovered that’s a lie.
The Ongoing Struggle
Since I’ve limited things that trigger me to compare myself to others, I feel more satisfied with my body, my personality, and my life.
Instead of focusing on the bad things, I’ve been learning to train my way of thinking. In public, instead of lapsing into negative comparisons, I try to come up with one thing I like about the strangers I see.
This year, I’ve decided to focus on discovering myself – not just the “me” I thought everyone expected.
I wear clothes I like, create the artwork I want to create, and do the things I’m passionate about. It has been a freeing and scary experience.
I believe removing the Comparison Game from our lives (and dealing with Body Dysmorphia) starts with a few simple changes. By removing ourselves from too much face time with perfect images on social media, we can start to recognize what is worthy in ourselves.
We can begin the journey to discovering who we really are – and falling in love with that person.
Have you struggled with social media and body dysmorphia, or beliefs of inadequacy? What were ways you coped?