It’s no secret that social media has an influence on how we perceive ourselves. From feeling like we always have it worse than others to feeling as if no matter what we do, others will always outrank us, and social media is not always a very positive place. However, it is especially toxic for those who suffer from body dysmorphic disorder, more commonly known as BDD. This article will discuss the ways in which social media affects BDD and what we can do to make sure not to let it affect us or others around us too much.
What is BDD?
According to the NHS, Body Dysmorphic Disorder refers to “a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance”. It affects both men and women. With social media, many posts and platforms in general have made it the norm to compare and to try to live up to expectations of beauty which are simply unrealistic. As a therapist I have come across many instances where a person as a result of bullying has been dealing with BDD. They were bullied in person and on social networking sites and now has a condition that may take years to take control of.
What’s the link between BDD and social media?
Although we cannot say that social media causes BDD, we can definitely come to the conclusion that the habit that people have to post pictures of themselves that are extremely edited or taken from angles that make it extremely discouraging to compare ourselves leads to increased feelings of shame and low-self esteem. Also remember people only show you the good bits. The Instagrammer Danae Mercer has a great way of showing just how much photos can be manipulated or changed to make a person look “better” or more attractive according to society's beliefs regarding beauty. From photoshopping pictures to taking pictures in a specific pose as we know that it is much more attractive this way, if we as the public see these pictures and are not aware of how much it is edited and thus that we should not take it as an example to compare ourselves to, it can do real damage.
What can we do about this?
There have been many talks on the topic. For example, some are suggesting that we should be imposing regulations on social media posts in which an edited picture must be declared. This would mean that anyone who uses any kind of photo editor would have to declare it, making it clear that the post is not natural and thus that if the viewer does not look the same way, that it is normal as it is unnatural. Furthermore, others argue that we should simply make it illegal to edit photos. Instead of worrying too much about how we look and compare to others, we should focus on preaching self-love!
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