The Pressures of Social Media

Illustration of a person sitting on the floor looking at their phone surrounded by floating like and follow social media icons. Next to the person is a skinny woman with a big bum and a man with defined ab muscles.

Written by Isabelle Worth

Illustration bJessica Oddi


We are living in a digital age where constant judgement and high expectations are tied to the superficiality of social media. Where one day skinny is sexy, then the next, being strong and fit is the new ‘it’. There is an ever-changing bodily ideal that is considerably unattainable for most creating the angst of never being enough. 


How can we please our romantic and sexual partners and be considered sexually attractive if we do not view ourselves this way? Will we be frowned upon if we have a bit of fat hanging from our triceps and lower-belly? Cellulite is ugly, you have to work-out every day to be visually appealing. 


I had a somewhat negative self-perception when I was younger and went through a rollercoaster of changing attitudes in my relationship with health and fitness. I saw a photo of myself one day and decided since I was a little pudgy I had to go on a diet and shed off weight, or no one would find me attractive. My body had changed since I modelled as a young child, and unfortunately society’s expectations to attain a certain image made me feel unattractive, overweight and worthless. Even though I was none of those things.


I proceeded by going on a ‘shake diet’ and counting my calories. I was still quite young. I had successfully lost a few kilos in a couple of weeks. Following this I went on a term-long school camp where I was surrounded by super-fit athletes who could run much faster than me, who looked good, who would talk shamelessly about all the boys they’d been involved with; making me look back at myself feeling yet again, unattractive, overweight and worthless. Until I returned home.


I began running at home, going to the gym and eating more healthily. I would receive comments, “you look great”, “you’ve lost weight”, and “what have you done?”. This pressure to look a certain way fuelled me. I became obsessive. I would exercise twice a day and if I ate anything slightly unhealthy I would feel enormous amounts of guilt. It got to the point where dad made pasta for dinner and I began to cry, refusing to eat it. I was never diagnosed with Orthorexia, but my obsessive nature showed otherwise. An obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy. This linked in to both my exercise routine and eating habits. I was at a constant battle with looking at myself in the mirror, judging my appearance, to flicking through pictures of fitness models on Instagram and feeling imperfect, like something was wrong with me. 


My struggle with self-confidence was written all over my face. Boys find confidence sexy, people would always say. Well I am certainly not confident so I stand no chance of finding love or even kissing a boy, I would think. I felt inadequate, and therefore felt like any boy would find me inadequate, therefore I would not be romantically or sexually fulfilled. 


I slowly learned and found a passion for living a healthy lifestyle. Without the pessimistic strings attached. I no longer worried so much about being a goal weight, and realised it’s OK to miss a day at the gym. This changing attitude and perception made me happier and more confident in my own skin. Because I felt GOOD. I felt strong, I felt healthy, I felt like a new ‘me’. Becoming intimately involved with someone new always brought up these past feelings, however. It is a constant battle, even at the happiest and best of times. There are such pressures and anxieties caused by social media platforms. The constantly changing norms and ideal body-image presents a vicious cycle of being unable to keep up.


Humans from all over the world feel the same way every day. The difficulty of truly loving your body creates a lot of torment and can heavily affect your confidence in the bedroom and in your relationships. Next time you go to comment on someone’s bodily appearance, take a step back and remember, you do not necessarily know what is going on behind the scenes. In new relationships and in intimate encounters, make the other person feel comfortable, confident and sexy. Because everyone deserves to feel that way, and everyone is sexy, in their own, unique way.

 
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When she is not working at Evolve Fitness and Lululemon, Isabelle enjoys playing and watching football, cooking delicious food and spending time with her friends and family.

Jessica Oddi (@oddi.jessica) is a disabled graphic designer in Canada with versatility to spare. She is particularly interested in collaborations involving much needed representation, inclusivity and empowerment. 


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