When Your Friends’ Posts About Their Bodies Affect YOU
Posted on February 21, 2013
Note: this post and the article it links to are accompanied by a Trigger Warning for use of specific weight-related numbers.
Sometimes, someone writes something that so perfectly explains a concept that there really isn’t anything to add. It just needs to be shared.
That’s why, when I shared my friend Meghan’s blog post “Fat: it’s on my mind” on Facebook this week, I didn’t add commentary. I just said, “Very insightful” and hoped that everyone I know would read it. Meghan does an amazing job in her short essay at pointing out the fact that the things we say and share on Facebook and other social networking sites can have a major effect on the people around us, as well as ourselves. One person’s body negativity can absolutely affect someone else’s.
Some key excerpts:
But I have many days, weeks, and even months when I feel just as dissatisfied with my body as I did 70 pounds heavier. And when I was 30 pounds lighter than I am now, I felt the same way! Isn’t it possible that feeling the same way about my body when my body is drastically, radically different at different weights, might mean that weight is not the reason I’m unhappy with my body? Leading, obvious question: could the source of my body unhappiness possibly be external?
For another instance: do we need to repeat the phrases and broken logic of the pro-anorexia (pro-ana) culture? A wonderful friend of mine who is smart and loving and working constantly with her relationship to her body posted on Facebook the other day, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” That is a pro-ana message. That is straight out of the bowels of eating disorder hell. I understand where she’s coming from (her issue involves lack of moderation around eating/consumption, and she’s trying to address that), but that messaging is toxic. It’s poison. And she didn’t just keep it for herself to think about; she put it out there for all of us to read, too.
I for one am making a commitment that I will go through my pins and cull captions that are negative and hateful. But here is my message for my friends. First of all, there is nothing wrong with you. Nothing. Not a damn thing. You are not too fat. Your body is a wonderful machine. You’re smart enough, original enough, capable enough. You’re attractive and generally kind. You do the things you need to do just fine. I’m all for self-improvement; after all, my blog is all about book reading and home-improvement and eating delicious meals. My LIFE is all about that stuff. But it is not self improvement to tear yourself down.
But while I believe that a person’s online presence is their own, I also believe that we need to interact thoughtfully with one another. There are positive ways to encourage ourselves and others to better health: fluid intake, healthy eating, exercise—all of these are things we can talk about without having to make it about how fat and horrible we are, or how great the elusive ideal thin body is. There are tons of studies popping up that address how our view of fat (that it shortens a person’s lifespan—false!, or that it decreases our health—correlation is not causation!) as pimped by the popular media is incredibly flawed and unscientific.
Read the whole post on Meghan’s blog, which also happens to be full of a lot of great thoughts and tips on living an orderly, meaningful life.