Not One More | Walden Behavioral Care
Not One More Harmful Post: How Social Media Amplifies Diet Culture and Impacts Mental Health
Social media is a tool that many of us have at our fingertips, and although it can be used in meaningful ways to connect with those near and far, it can also be a source of harm to our mental health. Every day we see pictures and videos of other people, friends or strangers, living their lives in ways that might make us feel insufficient. Not one more person has to feel this way based on what they see on social media.
Startling Social Stats
Research shows that teens with social media accounts reported higher levels of disordered eating compared to teens without social media accounts. Studies have found that even spending 30 minutes a day on social media can change the way that we view our own bodies.
Even though a company like TikTok claims to be committed to decreasing the amount of pro-eating disorder content on their app, they are still making millions of dollars pushing weight loss ads onto our “For You Pages.”
On TikTok, the largest age demographic of users is 18-24 years old, followed by 13-17 years old. While TikTok makes money from advertisements, young users are unwillingly or even unknowingly consuming content that may change or reinforce how they feel about themselves. Companies use social media to push harmful, pro-diet culture narratives that are amplified to massive, impressionable audiences. Not one more person should have to see content with these messages.
Being Mindful of Harmful Trends
While apps like TikTok may prioritize making money, as users, we can prioritize making the app a safe and healthy space for as many people as possible. Social media trends that involve elements like calorie counting, body checking, and hyper fixation on food and bodies can encourage disordered eating behaviors, creating a toxic space for impressionable viewers who may already be struggling. We can combat these trends by posting and amplifying content that promotes positivity instead of insecurity.
There are steps we can take to make our experiences online healthier. For example, Instagram has settings that allow users to block diet and weight loss advertisements from showing up on their feeds. See a tutorial Walden shared on our Instagram page here. Additionally, we have the autonomy to choose who we follow. Seeing content from influencers who align with our values can be a source of inspiration and reassurance, as opposed to a source of negativity and self-doubt.
The spiral of feed scrolling can feel out of control, but there are ways to slow down and check in by asking ourselves questions, such as:
- How does my mental health feel right now?
- What about my mood?
- Do I feel more self-critical, especially when it comes to my body?
- Is it worth it to consume this kind of content?
In honor of NOT ONE MORE Weekend, we can come together to say:
Not one more dollar spent to negatively impact our self-esteem.
Not one more social media-driven mental health crises.
Not one more harmful comparison.
Not one more life lost.
In a world where the threats of diet culture are increasing and evolving on and offline, accessible eating disorder treatment across all levels of care is crucial. Walden is proud to offer gender-inclusive virtual and in-person IOP and PHP support, as well as 24-hour inpatient and residential care for adults and adolescents. For more information, please visit waldeneatingdisorders.com.
Juliana Lugg (She/Her) holds the position of Engagement Coordinator for Walden Behavioral Care. Juliana is a recent graduate of Clark University, having received a bachelor’s degree in media, culture, and the arts, as well as a master’s degree in communications. Her undergraduate senior thesis was a short documentary highlighting the impacts of the beauty industry and diet culture marketing on social media, which aligns with her personal and professional interests.