Dear Charlie is an advice column that allows readers to ask Charlie for guidance on how to deal with problems. Whether it’s about love, friendships, or frustrations, Charlie is here to give you tips and ideas for tackling life’s everyday challenges. Readers can ask Charlie for advice through DM via our Instagram @liubknews, or anonymously through this form.
Dear reader, I understand what it is like to be your worst critic. The idea of being the “ideal” weight and the “perfect” appearance can have the worst effect on people’s minds and bodies and I hope that you can learn to love yourself with these tips.
Be careful on social media.
Social media and body positivity’s unique relationship is fascinating. While things have finally evolved to include plus-size and mid-size models, the “skinny” model look is still glorified in the media.
An issue I see with the new body positivity movement is how people with the ideal body, according to society, brand themselves as being a body positivity influencer. This is not to say that everyone doesn’t struggle with body image issues, but the way an influencer goes about treating this subject can be harmful to others.
So-called “body-positivity influencers” complaining about their appearance, especially while fitting into the narrative of what many consider the “ideal” body-type, can push a toxic narrative onto followers, making them compare themselves to this influencer and feel lesser than.
While it is great to have a body-positive mindset, people with social media platforms must be careful in approaching this subject. The very nature of social media can lead to toxic comparisons which in turn, can create negative self-talk. Unfollow people and influencers who trigger that voice inside your head telling you that in order to be happy, you must lose weight to look like the model on your screen.
Follow those who make you feel good.
Other influencers, like Victoria Garrick, are deserving of the title as a body-positivity influencer. Garrick is a former division I volleyball player who struggled with an eating disorder and body image issues, especially in college. She created The Hidden Opponent, a mental health awareness platform and safe space for athletes.
From “expectation vs. reality” to “the power of facetune” posts, Garrick’s Instagram feed speaks volumes to her character. Unlike many other influencers, Garrick posts about real life experiences, showcasing the highs and lows of life as a woman and former athlete.
It’s empowering to follow an influencer who posts about real life. Constantly seeing influencers that have the “perfect” life affects you whether you choose to acknowledge the toll it has on your mental health or not.
Next time you scroll on Instagram, be aware of how you are actively feeling when you see your feed. Make a note of who you follow and see if their posts bring joy to your life or if you tend to feel worse about yourself after viewing their content. From there, curate your following list, unfollowing those who tend to make you feel bad about yourself.
Nothing is wrong with setting healthy boundaries for yourself, in real life and on social media.
Appreciate Your Strengths
Take a minute to appreciate the adventures your body has taken you on and how resilient it has been through sickness and health.
Once you can acknowledge the immense power that your body holds, you begin to see your appearance through a different perspective.
The biggest indicator of your health is how you feel. Listening to your body allows you to have a deeper level of care and concern for your physical health.
Remember, your body deserves to be fueled correctly regardless of the calories burned throughout the day or whether you ate more than you think you should have yesterday. Self-love is not selfish, it is essential.
Visual Aids and Affirmations
Finally, resisting negative self-talk and breaking bad habits takes time. Be patient with yourself, but also remember self-accountability. Try posting up affirmations around your space to remind yourself how beautiful you truly are.
Say the affirmations aloud and permit yourself to believe the words that come out of your mouth. These affirmations should include both physical and internal attributes, as you are more than what you look like.
Some examples of positive affirmations:
“I am strong and accept myself completely”
“I am worthy of love from myself and others”
“I am at peace with myself”
“I am proud of how far I’ve come”