What you probably don’t think about before posting on social media
A must-read for all women.
BY DANIELLE APPI
Dear social media influencers,
I wanted to reach out to you from a mother’s perspective as there are many of you who don’t realise that some of the things you are posting to your social platforms are a little bit much for a mother of young ladies.
I’m sure there are many things you check before posting a selfie to your social platforms: lighting, quality, whether your image encapsulates the moment and shows you in the best way possible, to name a few. I know that these are things many of us (no matter how large our audience) consider before we post. However, there’s something many may not think about before you post: the impact the image may have on a younger woman.
It’s by no means your fault that you haven’t considered what you’re posting from this kind of angle. Let’s face it, some of the largest fitness profiles out there are yet to become mothers (and fathers), and most people without daughters or younger siblings probably haven’t considered the impact specific images may have on our younger generation. With the explosion of social media, anyone with a connection to the internet can see a huge number of images and social media profiles. Without realising it, many of the social media profiles that are accessible by the masses are actually contributing to the ongoing body image issues prevalent in today society. This is something worth talking about.
As fit women, we post images online to motivate others to be fit, healthy, happy and love life. However, research is being commissioned into the effect that social media is having on body image for women and girls and, sadly, it’s finding more and more disturbing trends. The correlation between the increase in social media usage and the corresponding increase in poor body image among our young cannot be ignored.
In fact, in a recent report conducted by Dove, the statistics revealed that 77 per cent of Australian women blame unrealistic standards set by media, social media and advertising for contributing to the global problem of poor body-confidence. Alarmingly, in the study, only 20 per cent of young Australian girls between the ages of 11 and 24 were happy with how they looked.
The report also revealed that a staggering 89 per cent of Australian women are cancelling social plans, job interviews or other important engagements simply because they are unhappy with their appearance. And, most tellingly, one out of every two Australian women report they feel worse about themselves after looking at images of attractive women in media.
This is more so the case when images presented on social media are unrealistic and unachievable. Photoshopped images and carefully staged scenes that present you with the perfect body, perfect hair, blemish-free skin and perfect life are what I’m focusing on. Perhaps the images might even appear sexually suggestive. Less smiles, more seductive glances and pouts. Less gym clothing, more lingerie.
While this type of content may get you more likes and followers (particularly of the male variety), possibly even helping you to get sponsored, consider what type of effect this is having on the more innocent audience who are looking for guidance.
You may ask why I care so much? Why did I choose to speak out about the possible negative effects social media influencers could be having?
Well, I have daughters. I have young girls who are just entering into the confusing and crazy teenage years where these days they look to influencers and celebrities for cues on how to dress, how to act, how to interact with the opposite sex and their peers and how to be ‘popular’.
They look at popular profiles and they start to see the correlation between skin, sexiness and fame. They look at highlight reels and edited pictures and quite innocently believe these influencers walk around looking fabulous just like in their images... Every. Single. Day. Because, it seems, that’s what they want us to believe, right?
Now, I understand many of these high-profile influencers may not think other people’s daughters are their responsibility. I’m sure some of them may honestly believe that it is the parents’ responsibility to teach their children the difference between what’s real and what’s not. But personally, I wholeheartedly disagree.
Anyone who posts on a worldwide forum needs to realise that young teens may see their images. These teens are innocent and less worldly than those they admire. Influencers can, and most probably will, influence a teen through social media in some way — particularly if they have a larger following. It’s ultimately up to those profiles how they choose to influence them.
In 2015, Sunshine Coast teen Essena O’Neill revealed that she was paid up to $2000 for posts on Instagram and videos on YouTube endorsing various products and posing in revealing positions. She crumbled under the pressure to maintain the ‘perfect’ lifestyle that she had created through social media and withdrew completely from the spotlight. Essena, now 20, admitted that much of what her followers saw was a result of hours of manipulation of images, starving herself for the ‘money shot’ and living her life as a fabricated lie for the camera.
My guess is that Essena is just one of the many thousands of social media influencers who have created a #fitspo life for themselves that is far removed from the reality of everyday living.
So I put this to you: those of you who want to truly influence and be part of the solution, consider this idea.
Rather than ‘talking’ about being real and authentic on your social media posts, try posting images of yourself that are real. Let your hair down a little — in fact, mess it up! Mix your posts up with some natural, unedited and spontaneous images. Peel back the layers and let
your followers get a glimpse into the inner you — without the filters, without the makeup and without the body-enhancing apps.
Show them images of you having fun, of you getting sweaty during a great workout — images without the pay-per- post products being the feature.
Show images on great days and images on bad days — admit that you have bad days. Show your fans and followers all of the hard work it takes to get those perfect pictures. Even publicly admit that you are not perfect, that your life is not perfect and that you have ups and downs just like the next girl — or the young girl who follows you with stars in her eyes wishing she was just like you.
Don’t use apps to shape your waist, shape your behind and shape your breasts. Leave your skin as it is before you filter away blemishes, freckles and wrinkles. Show them that they don’t have to appear semi-naked before they get any attention from people. Be real and show them that perfect lives in a perfect world with perfect bodies and perfect relationships simply don’t exist.
Show these young girls that it is okay to not be perfect. Show them that you are human. Show them that it is good to be proud and comfortable in their own skin. Show them that we are all beautiful and perfectly perfect in our own imperfections and help to shape them into strong, healthy, confident women who will love themselves unconditionally no matter what their shape, size and colour.
I absolutely understand that what you choose to do with your body is up to you. I am not telling you what to post and what not to post, I’m simply asking you to be aware of who might be looking at your profile and who might be influenced by what you do and say.
And, if you have the opportunity to make a positive difference, wouldn’t you love to seize it?