4 ways to overcome body shaming on social media
Social media can be very positive, connecting us with friends and family, exposing us to new information and teaching us about diversity. But body shaming on social media is a huge problem. More than 20% of girls have experienced online bullying and 51% say they feel self-conscious about the way they look on video calls with friends and peers, according to the 2021 Girls’ Attitudes Survey. The majority (94%) of girls and young women aged 11-21 agree more should be done to protect young people from body image pressures online. So we’re trying to do just that: here’s a guide on ways to minimize the effects of body shaming on social media.
Avoid all body talk
Examples of body shaming on social media can easily appear harmless or go unnoticed. The truth is, any comment about a person’s body – whether intended to be positive or not – can feel like body shaming to the person on the receiving end. The reality is, the more we avoid commenting on another person’s body, the less importance we place on appearance, and the better we’ll all feel.
Discuss body shaming openly
Discuss with your children specific examples of different ‘body talk’ comments they or you have seen online and consider together why they might make someone feel bad about their body or how they look. Being open in this way will make them more likely to come to you if they receive comments that make them feel self-conscious about their own body or appearance, so you can tackle them together.
Choose your own words wisely
Be aware of your own self-talk: “Words can have a huge impact on our self-esteem, and constantly talking negatively about our bodies can reinforce the idea that there is only one type of body shape that is beautiful. It’s a pattern we have to break if we want our children to grow up to be confident about the bodies they’ve got,” says Body Image advocate and podcaster Jess Weiner.
Shift the focus
The comments section of social media posts can feel designed to make us comment on others’ appearance. Try a different approach and encourage your children to do the same: “Practice avoiding body talk by commenting on the setting, what your friends and family are doing in their photos, or how it makes you happy to see their photos, instead of how other people look,” suggests Weiner.