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At its best social media allows a global community of users to share ideas as well as their daily lives. Unfortunately, the same apps that have formed the basis for social movements are also known for promoting content that negatively affects user’s sense of self-worth. The most notable example of this is the growing expanse of data showing a correlation between social media usage and negative body image. It’s never healthy to compare yourself to an artfully curated version of someone else’s life. Still, some research even indicates that social media could be contributing to increased demand for body dysmorphia treatment. Let’s look at how social media affects body image.

How Social Media Affects Body Image

Social media influencers often promote perfect versions of their lives. They look perfect in every image, and they seem to be constantly engaged in some exciting new adventure. Many people view their content as inspirational, but there are a few things you might not realize about their content.

There Are Thousands of Images You Don’t See

For every image you see on Instagram or Facebook, dozens never made it to your screen. Social media influencers spend hours taking photographs to get that perfect shot that seems so effortless as you scroll by. In fact, an article by HuffPost showed that social media influencers literally take between 20 and 200 photographs to get the shot they want.

They Aren’t 100% Real

There are plenty of influencers who don’t use Photoshop to pull in their waist, fill out their curves, hide acne, or create the appearance of muscles. Sadly, there are also plenty that do. On top of that two out of every three Americans admit they alter their photographs in some way prior to posting. It may just be a filter, contrast, or a color pop, but it is not reality.

They Create Loads of Content in Relatively Short Periods of Time

This is true to an extent for most social media influencers, but the most extreme cases are definitely bodybuilders and other fitspo influencers. The content you see them releasing on a daily basis is rarely a reflection of their day-to-day life. It is far more common for fitspo influencers to spend hours swapping outfits and locations during that one week they were finally able to achieve a six-pack. For most people, that body build is simply not sustainable long term. The same can be said for social media influencers who seem to always be in new and exciting places.

Lighting and Angles Are Everything

From their makeup to their bodies, lighting and angles make a huge difference in the way influencers look on social media versus real life. They have made a living finding out how to show themselves in the best possible light. The truth is you may not recognize them if you saw them out on the street where they don’t have a ring light and a camera at the perfect height. Unfortunately, that can be hard to recognize if you’re trying to compare your real physical appearance to their curated online appearance.

Using Social Media in a Positive Manner

The vast majority of social media influencers are not trying to cause you harm. They’re projecting a version of themselves that gives them the attention they desire. That behavior is completely separate from you and should not be the basis of any comparison. The good news is that you can still enjoy their content as long as you keep reality in mind.

There are also wonderful, supportive groups on the internet that can help you to appreciate the beauty of your body. However, if you are struggling with an eating disorder or body dysmorphia, seek help. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in LA can help you to question the negative thoughts driving your condition and promote a healthier mindset.

In a world built on the concept of form over substance, it is difficult for literally everyone to remember the real purpose of physical health and fitness. However, this problem takes on new weight when it comes to people who suffer from body dysmorphia. Body dysmorphic disorder is a clinical condition that applies to individuals who focus on their perceived physical flaws. These flaws are either exaggerated or imagined. But the individual remains so bothered by them that it interferes with their daily lives. These same individuals also likely experience depression and anxiety as a result of their condition. Below we collected some tips for helping someone with body dysmorphia.

Helping Someone with Body Dysmorphia

Unfortunately, many people with body dysmorphia are completely unaware that their obsession is actually a clinical condition. That can make it difficult to help them but not impossible. If someone close to you currently deals with body dysmorphia, then you can generally help. The best methods remain simple:

  • Giving them the space to talk freely
  • Providing information on clinical resources (when they feel most receptive to offers of help)

With that being said, we need to clearly understand what body dysmorphia is. And we should look at the resources available before you have that conversation.

Identifying Body Dysmorphia

It cannot be emphasized enough that body dysmorphia is a medical condition. If you have a loved one who clearly engages in self-defeating behaviors as a result of their focus on physical attributes to an extent that it negatively impacts their social or professional life, then they may have a form of body-dysmorphia. The easiest way to tell for sure is to ask yourself two questions.

  • Is the person seemingly overwhelmed by thoughts surrounding these flaws?
  • Are the flaws actually minor or entirely unnoticeable?

If the answer to both questions is “yes,” then body dysmorphia is likely at play. However, if the answer to the first question is “yes” and the answer to the second question is “no,” then your loved one may still require help to treat another clinical condition. Once you’ve realized that this person needs help, it’s vitally important that you talk to them and convince them to receive body dysmorphia treatment.

Body Dysmorphia Treatment

Body dysmorphia exists as a complex issue that can appear in a number of forms. Generally speaking, it comes down to an unhealthy obsession with physical flaws. These flaws may be minor or completely absent. But that does not lessen their impact. As a result, receiving cognitive behavioral therapy in LA is one of the most effective treatment types due to its ability to target the very ideas and triggers that spur on the condition.

Unlike other treatment types, cognitive behavioral therapy does not teach avoidance. Avoidance can intensify the individual’s response when faced with a trigger, such as a mirror or social event. Instead, cognitive behavioral therapy uses a three-pronged approach to help people tackle their body dysmorphic disorder.

Exposure

Rather than encouraging avoidance behavior, clinicians using cognitive behavioral therapy will gradually introduce triggers to patients. A therapist carefully monitors these exposure experiences so that the patient and clinical expert can talk through the patient’s thought process. This can help challenge the patient’s negative thoughts while reducing the anxiety associated with the trigger.

Acceptance

Mindfulness remains a vital tool for treating body dysmorphia. The condition stays resilient against logic. So in some cases it proves best to teach the patient to accept their body as they see it. By learning to accept their body in its current condition, patients can become more aware of the distance between their negative thoughts and the reality of their physical form over time.

Family Inclusion

Close family members often aid with cognitive behavioral therapy. Sadly, our family members’ best intentions can be harmful for people dealing with body dysmorphia. The seemingly empty assurances and comparisons can actively exacerbate the condition, so it is helpful to include family members in the process of learning about negative thought processes and acceptance.

Ultimately, you can encourage your loved one to seek help. Then your local cognitive behavioral therapist will do everything they can to help them become healthier and happier.