Step 1: Prep
Over 7 in 10 girls want their parents to talk to them about how to manage toxic beauty advice online.* So, the first step to helping them detoxify their feeds is getting to grips with social media and body image.
Start by spending time on popular social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitch.
Get familiar with the platforms and check out the safety functions that enable users to block, report and unfollow accounts that share toxic advice.
Now, ask the young people in your life who they see as positive role models on social media or search for trending accounts online. Follow them to get an understanding of the beauty standards young people can be exposed to.
Step 2: Chat
We want to start the conversations that will help young people identify toxic beauty standards and think more critically about how they can detoxify their feeds. Remember: It’s about gentle parenting and making social media a positive space together – not controlling their accounts.
Let them know you’ve heard some interesting stats (like the ones above) and that you’re eager to hear their thoughts too. You can even show them who you follow on social media and ask them what they think about their posts.
You should also remind young people not to compare their beauty to anyone else – especially when it comes to social media. Comparing yourself to people online can be problematic as many posts can be digitally distorted, professionally produced and far from real life. This is known as ‘the comparison trap’. And adults can fall into it too.
Remind young people that even celebrities sometimes experience low body confidence, self-doubt, online trolls and struggles with mental well-being. Encourage them to remember that what they see is often somebody's carefully curated highlight reel – it’s rarely real life.
If they still need convincing, invite them to watch Girls Room, our six-episode series for young people that explores the comparison trap, social media and body image. Or our short film Reverse Selfie, which shows some of the techniques used to digitally distort social media posts.
Another great way to discuss toxic beauty advice is to help each other learn how to spot ads. Start by finding examples online. Search #BeautyHack on TikTok or #Ad on Instagram. You can even scroll through your feeds together to spot ads in accounts you already follow.
You can then ask each other:
- What’s being sold in this post?
- Is this person giving this advice because it’s a paid ad?
- Does this post make unrealistic promises about what will happen if you buy this product?
- And what impact could this advice have on young people’s self-esteem over time?