A selfie of a group of young people.

How to cope if social media affects your body image

4 min read
18 September 2023

Topics mentioned: body image, social media, self-esteem, self-care

About: Our blogger shares four tips to help you look after your self-esteem and feel better about yourself if you're struggling with social media and body image.

Those images don’t reflect how people look in real life. Everybody has imperfections and insecurities - that’s what makes us human.

Growing up with the constant pressure of social media is incredibly difficult. Navigating adolescence at this time can often feel overwhelming, but you are not alone.

I’d like to share my tips on how to cope with the effects of social media, in particular the impacts on our mental health and perceptions of body image.

Remember, social media is not reality

It is important to remember that social media is not a true representation of real life. It is so easy to get caught up in what we see online, but we have to remind ourselves that social media posts are often an idealised version of reality - a highlight reel of people’s best selves.

A group of young people at a school desk talking to each other with a world map on background.

This means that the images of people we see online are only a snippet of their happiest moments or when they look their best, not a complete picture of their entire life. We therefore shouldn’t compare ourselves to these posts - no one’s life is perfect and that’s okay!

Editing is also a huge problem with social media. Because of the pressure to look a certain way online, people often use apps that smooth their skin or alter their body shape.

When we see these photos it can make us feel inadequate because we don’t look that way. But those images don’t reflect how people look in real life. Everybody has imperfections and insecurities - that’s what makes us human.

Follow accounts that make you feel good!

We can choose who we follow, so make sure you are following accounts that make you feel good about yourself and celebrate diversity, and unfollow accounts that encourage unrealistic beauty standards. Filtering out sources of negativity can make our experience online much happier and prevent feelings of insecurity.

You can change social media to make it work for you, but you don’t need to change anything about the way you look. You are more than enough just as you are.

Spend time doing things that make you happy

If social media makes you struggle with how you look, spending time doing things that you enjoy can help boost your self-esteem. Scrolling through social media can feel aimless at times and doing something else that makes you happy is so important. It helps you live in the moment and realise what really brings you joy.

If social media starts to feel like a negative space, it’s okay to step away and do something that you know is good for your mental health, instead of comparing yourself with others.

Find out more about self-care

Focus on the importance of your body

Remember that your body’s main job is to keep you healthy and happy, whatever that looks like for you, and help you do the things that you love. Try not to measure your worth on the appearance of your body. Instead, appreciate it for what it does for you each day.

It’s remarkable what our bodies go through to keep us alive! Your body does not need to look a certain way to be appreciated, that is not its purpose. All bodies are beautiful, and no two bodies look the same. That’s what makes yours so amazing.

All bodies are beautiful, and no two bodies look the same. That’s what makes yours so amazing.

The most important thing is to be kind to yourself. You can change social media to make it work for you, but you don’t need to change anything about the way you look. You are more than enough just as you are.

More information and advice

We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.

Where to get help

However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.

  • The Mix

    Free, short-term online counselling for young people aged 25 or under. Their website also provides lots of information and advice about mental health and wellbeing. 

    Email support is available via their online contact form.

    They have a free 1-2-1 webchat service available during opening hours.

    Opening times:
    4pm - 11pm, Monday - Friday
  • Childline

    If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.

    Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service.

    Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.

    Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.

    Opening times:
    24/7
  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)

    Provides support to anyone aged 16+ who is feeling down and needs to talk or find information.

    Free webchat service available.

    Read information about the helpline and how it works.

    Opening times:
    5pm - midnight, 365 days a year

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