It’s natural to want to look as good as we can, and to work on changing aspects of our appearance that we find less pleasing. And if, for example, if you’re carrying a few extra pounds, the benefits of a balanced diet and moderate exercise may be well worth the effort.
But you should never end up punishing yourself in pursuit of an impossible ideal. That isn’t healthy for body or mind. We all - including the most beautiful celebrities - are content only when we accept that perfection doesn’t exist, but that our own individual looks help to make us uniquely ourselves.
While people have felt judged on their faces and figures since time immemorial, social media has certainly added to the pressure. These days we are constantly exposed to carefully selected and often heavily filtered images of others which don’t reflect reality. We end up comparing ourselves with an illusion, causing ourselves real unhappiness. This is particularly a risk for young people who haven’t yet established strong self-esteem.
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According to experts, the recent rise in eating disorders is likely due in part to the negative impact of social media on body image, especially in adolescents.
The rise in extreme plastic surgery, and the ever younger age at which people seek surgery, is another worrying trend that can be linked to online images.
What can we do to counter this? First, limit time on social media and stop following influencers who promote unrealistic looks. Always remember that appearances can be deceptive.
When it comes to weight, be objective. Use body mass index charts or a guide provided by your doctor to make sure you maintain a healthy weight. And if you are seriously dissatisfied with your looks, before taking any radical step talk with a pyschologist.