It’s January (I’m sure you knew this) so it’s time for the annual snooze-fest that is peak diet season – aka the diet industry’s thinly veiled attack on your self-esteem and of course, your bank account.
Granted, in reality diet culture is ever-present (let’s not get started on ‘summer bodies’) but at this time of year it’s easy to feel that little bit more vulnerable, after happily chowing down on a solid regime of cheese board and chocolate selection box over the holidays. Sidenote – there is nothing wrong with this!
One thing that’s helped me massively in coming to accept and love my body is the media I consume. I’ve banged on about this before (see Body image – why we need to re-train our brains) but I honestly think it’s one of the single best acts of self-care there is.
Of course, it’s impossible to avoid all negative media – that would involve living under a rock somewhere far, far away. I only had to click onto my emails the other day to be presented with a ‘headline’ about how one celebrity had lost a stone in a month (not healthy or helpful). But there are some things we can choose to consume, and ways we can reduce levels of toxic diet culture bulls**t in our feeds (those asterisks were for you Mum).
Here’s my little guide to detoxing your social media this January…
First off, think about the accounts you actively follow.
The celebrity on Insta who you think you’re following for image inspiration but who, on reflection, actually makes you feel like crap about yourself?
What about the health and fitness ‘guru’ whose content you thought might be empowering but whose ‘before and after’ pictures uphold the idea that body fat is bad?
Or even your friend who you love to pieces, but who posts less than helpful stuff about how they ‘pigged out’ the night before and feel terrible, or talks about how much weight they need to lose before their next holiday?
It might well be time to unfollow all of the above. Or if you know them in real life, the mute function on Instagram can be a helpful way of cutting out not so helpful content without it being awkward. Work down the list of accounts or profiles you follow on your different social media platforms and check in with yourself on how they make you feel. If that feeling’s not good, then it’s time for them to go.
What about the stuff that pops up which you never asked for in the first place? This is trickier but you can at least train your social media to show you more of the stuff you want, and less of what you don’t.
On Instagram and Facebook…On your Instagram Explore page for example, click on one of the images and select ‘see more posts like this’ or hit the three dots in the top right corner to choose ‘see fewer posts like this’. If you see an ad you don’t like on your feed or in stories, you can again use the three dots to ‘hide’ it, meaning that Instagram and Facebook will serve you less ads like this.
On Twitter… You can click the arrow in the top right corner of an ad and choose “I don’t like this ad”, and on Pinterest the option is bottom right. Pinterest seem to regularly like shoving diet ads in my face, so I’ve used this function a few times.
Now that you’ve got rid of some rubbish, that leaves space for some fresh, body-positive content in its place! I’ve put together a few recommendations below, for some accounts to leave you feeling good, not guilty.
- @bodyposipanda – I talk about Megan Jayne Crabbe – aka bodyposipanda – a lot, so I figured I might as well take the fan-girling to a new level and draw her! Hence the illustration at the top of this post. Megan is such a force for good on Instagram and seeing the way she celebrates every curve and roll has really encouraged and empowered me to celebrate my own curves and rolls.
- @sinceslicedbreadpod – ‘Since Sliced Bread’ is an anti-diet account set up by two of my Instagram faves – Alice and Cait – that started out life as a newsletter and has now transitioned to a podcast. It’s basically two awesome humans – who’ve both struggled with disordered eating in the past – chatting about food and diet culture in a really down-to-earth, non-judgemental way.
- @laurathomasphd – Laura Thomas is a non-diet nutritionist who is all about intuitive eating, and does a lot of myth busting and general talking of sense! She cuts through a lot of the confusing food-related stuff we hear in the news and provides a helpful, scientific approach that separates the truth from the fiction. She’s also got a book coming out this month called ‘Just Eat It’ which I have on pre-order and am very excited to read.
- @maxineali – Maxine Ali is a health writer and medical humanities researcher, who describes herself as a “wellness insider turned critic” and talks about the language of health. She writes so articulately (I guess not surprisingly for a journalist!) and her Instagram is full of refreshing gems of wisdom.
- @bodyimage_therapist – Ashlee Bennett is an online counsellor and coach, passionate about therapy because in her own words “there is liberation from compressed, narrow body ideals and the prison of body-hatred”. Her Insta is full of positive, inspirational messages and she’s a total ray of sunshine.
These are just a few accounts that inspire me but I would love to find more this year – please let me know your own recommendations! Beyond social media, I found Ruby Tandoh’s book Eat Up to be completely wonderful last year (I wrote a separate blog post on it here) and LOVED the body-positive Netflix film Dumplin’. Here’s to detoxing our social media and filling it with good, inspiring stuff instead! I hope that 2019 is a year where we can see through diet culture more than ever and reduce its impact on our lives.