YOUR ACCOUNT, YOUR CHOICE
“You really deleted Instagram again??”
For the past few months, I’ve been caught in a cycle of deleting and reloading my social media. While a lot of my friends do a “digital purge” in order to declutter their lives and take away distractions, I deleted it because I wanted to get away from triggering images.
I’d love to celebrate my friends’ fitness accomplishments as much as I can, but in my current state of mind, I know my limits and I can’t throw you a party for your body while I’m struggling with my own.
It seems to me that every time I open Instagram, I have to unfollow another account because it presents some sort of negative imagery or pushes “the perfect body” on me. I have become very comfortable using the unfollow button in this season of my life.
I know my limits, how long I can look at social media, and also what the platforms are intended for. I am okay with being selfish and seeing only what will bring me joy on social media. I don’t ever want to spend my screen time caught up in a comparison game or negative thoughts. Those are easily avoidable by simply unfollowing accounts. I don’t think all accounts that post pictures of skinnier girls are bad at all; I love that they celebrate the bodies of everyone. However, I also know that if I see one more rail-thin girl telling me I need to workout three times a day, I will start sobbing. I don’t need that in my life right now. I’d rather open Instagram and see cute puppies, enneagram advice, and Christian memes.
Now, that is not to say that running from things which make you uncomfortable is the way to get rid of all of the body negativity in your life. The way you do that is more of a 100-step process of retraining your brain, but I do think that unfollowing is a start. Filling your mind and feed with skinny bodies and allowing those models to become your “normal” is rarely ever going to help you love yourself the way you are, unedited.
Recently, my therapist asked me to find a picture of multiple women and send it to my friends. I would ask them to tell me if they saw the women as “skinny,” “normal,” or “overweight.” From this experiment, I learned the hard way that too much exposure from social media and constant comparison of my body to others’ had caused me to have a skewed vision when it comes to weight.
So when do we follow or unfollow? I like to think of the people on my Instagram as chosen by a Marie Kondo-like method: Do they bring me joy? Do I know them? Do they make me feel good about myself? Do I smile when they post? If the answer to all these questions is “yes,” then I’ll keep following them. If it’s not, I’ll either unfollow them or mute them for a bit if it’s someone I know rather well. There is always the other option to DM people and brands that are uploading pictures and posts that are not edifying nor inclusive. I’m sure the brands would love to hear from their followers and would look to amend anything that they have done wrong.
So don’t feel guilty about unfollowing people. Remember: you can be selfish if someone’s content isn’t what you want to see. It’s your social media, it’s your choice. Try to curate a social media experience that makes you feel better after closing the app than you did when you got on it.