I recently figured out that curating my social media feed was probably the only way I was going to stop feeling like shit.
A couple of years ago, I created an Instagram account. I’m pretty much the opposite of a social media expert, so I didn’t really know what to do with it. To this day, I don’t know how to post an IG story. I just throw up a photo and caption once in a while and then I use it to look for inspiration.
On that account, I follow celebrities, beauty accounts, and fat positive influencers. Everything that comes across my feed is there because it either entertains or inspires me. Sometimes I keep someone around for a long time, and sometimes they only last a few weeks. Instagram is a space for me to get inspired.
And I love it.
I used to use Instagram and Pinterest to follow a lot of formerly fat people who somehow managed to become thin. I followed hashtags for certain diets and surgeries. For a while, I had a newsfeed full of pins for low-fat recipes, low carb snacks, and “motivational” sayings meant to shame me out of…well, eating food, I guess?
I would open my phone and see hundreds of women in now-thin bodies working out and drinking blended green stuff. I thought maybe if I could just immerse myself in that culture, I’d find the strength to be like one of them.
Over the last few years, I have discovered a healthier way of approaching my fat body. Instead of surrounding myself with images of bodies I deem “better” than mine, I have started surrounding myself with messages that tell me what I can do here and now, just as I am.
I stopped worshipping at the altar of wellness culture. I’m no longer accepting that there is only one right way to have a body. Diet culture was leaving me feeling empty and in pain, so I left it behind. I took a look at my own body, and I decided that I was already capable of moving, eating well and feeling healthy.
Why should I wait to tell people that I feel good until my body was small? Why did I have to buy the lie that I was unworthy and unattractive until I was thin?
I changed what I allowed in my mind so that I could change the way I looked at my own body.
I still see hundreds of photos of bodies in motion, eating fresh foods and showing off their beautiful clothes. Only now, those bodies don’t all look the same.
I follow thin women, fat women, women of color, trans women, women with limb differences, women who wear religious garments full-time, and even a few men.
I ingest social media messages that tell me that all bodies are good bodies. And I’m not saying there is no place for weight loss messages. I support people who embark on a body change because I think that each person gets to decide if their body needs to change size or shape.
I search for hashtags and accounts that help me train my brain to see every single body as valuable and beautiful.
And it’s worked. I have found a really healthy way to use social media. I have finally started to see the world as a place where I belong. Imperfection is something I choose to embrace now. It’s a totally acceptable part of life.
I am happier and mentally healthier than I have ever been.
A few months ago, I started slowly transitioning my Facebook feed to be more like my Instagram. I am following people and pages that enrich my mind and make me a more informed person.
Groups with snarky dynamics that make me feel negative and gross? Kicked to the curb.
Mom bloggers who “keep it real” by letting one strand of perfectly highlighted hair fall into their face while they admit they let their kid eat a strawberry that wasn’t organic? Out.
Fitness accounts that use fat bodies exclusively as before photos and sad, cautionary tales? Bye.
Pretty much anything that makes me feel like shit is unwelcome now.
It’s a work in progress, but I have found it to be a step toward a more peaceful existence online. When Facebook isn’t stressing me the eff out, my offline life is better, too. It’s a necessary change.
Not only is social media here to stay, it’s part of my job, so I can’t just leave altogether. But I can make my whole social media feed feel less like a stressful, hopeless hellscape and more like a place where I actually want to live. That’s what I intend to do.
While I am creating an online space that is livable, I’m careful not to create an echo chamber. Removing things that cause you stress and pain is different than removing every single dissenting voice. Well-rounded people need to be informed, and you can’t be informed if you only let in people who agree with you.
Echo chambers are dangerous. They create a breeding ground for misinformation and harmful, radical ideas. You should embrace diversity of thought, but you also have every right to set limits for how much you can tolerate.
If social media stresses you the hell out sometimes, I encourage you to start curating your experience. Social media is real life. It affects your real body and your real brain. If you wouldn’t tolerate something in your physical presence, you don’t have to tolerate it online.
You’re too important to allow anything to make you feel like you are any less than spectacular.
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