You’re scrolling through Instagram, maybe mindlessly, maybe desperately trying to avoid awkward conversation with the strangers in the lift or next to you on the train.
Quickly you run your fingers past the #blessed couple selfie from your friend and her new boyfriend, your colleague’s smashed avocado brunch, a sunset holiday snap from someone you met just once (even so, you’ll give it a like) and then, you falter.
In your feed is a series of snaps from those #fitspo accounts you followed in preparation for your New Years resolution of getting fit/ back into that dress/gain that six pack that seems to have slightly, erm, fallen by the wayside.
You know the kind – an impossibly fit women in matching fluoro crop top and shorts fresh from working out, despite the absence of a single bead of sweat on her face. Or perhaps it’s another “candid” bikini snap from an account that boasts tens of thousands of followers.
Logically, you know these are carefully constructed posts (cheers, Essena O’Neill) or more likely that a lot of work, sweat and training goes on to get the poster to this point of athleticism, but still you begin to doubt yourself.
Watch: Christine Anu talks about the worries of body image. (Post continues after video.)
In less than a minute, your self-esteem has taken a small, but significant hit. “Maybe I shouldn’t have had that extra slice of cake at lunch,” you think. “Why don’t my legs/bum/stomach look like hers?” “Why am I not working out right now?”
It’s an internal battle that had become a daily ritual for me. Despite generally considering myself happy with my body, I was comparing myself to the endless #fitspo pictures and always coming up short.
I’d log in, scroll through a social media site that used to serve as inspirational and entertaining, and instead close the app feeling dejected and a little bit shit about myself. When it started happening multiple times a day, I knew I needed to do something about it. (Post continues after gallery.)
So I took back control. I simply unfollowed any account which shared a picture that made me feel that way. Before the doubt and comparisons could creep in, my finger was on that blue button and two seconds later, it was gone. A simple act that was unbelievably liberating.
It sounds like an obvious and trivial move (duh), but believe me, it’s made such a difference. My procrastinating scrolls through social media are a much more pleasant experience, filled with only accounts that make me laugh, inspire or salivate.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s not about simply shutting out anything fitness or health related to live under a rock of Netflix and pizza (although that does sound excellent).
Being healthy is important to me and like anyone else, I require a kick up the butt of motivation to drag myself out of bed to exercise or say no to that third slice of cake (that I probably don't really need).
But I want that fitspo on my own terms, with people, methods or quotes that are realistic and relatable to my lifestyle. I'm never going to be that person who spends every evening or the gym or cuts out delicious things like carbs and cake.
After all, why would you purposefully subject yourself to something that doesn't make you happy or feel good? So cut out the negativity with a simple touch of a button... and bring on the #foodporn and unnecessary selfies. I promise you won't regret it.
Have you ever felt this way about social media? What's your positive body image trick?