Thanks to mainstream and social media (particularly Instagram as of late), women have grown accustomed to a specific and rigid mold of how they should look. Despite their height, bone structure, family history, and more, women are shown (and told) from a very young age that they should possess an hour-glass figure that shows off long, tone legs, a curvaceous, yet flat, mid-section, and above average breast size.
The unfortunate reality: the photos on billboards, magazine covers, and now those polluting social media aren’t attainable for the vast majority of the population. In fact, even the minuscule percent who appear to have achieved the “look” couldn’t have done so without the help of photo editing, heavy make-up, cosmetic surgery, or a combination of the three.
Have you seen how many filters Instagram offers!?
So, what does that mean for you, the working mother of two who simply wants to drop a few pounds to feel better about herself and energized throughout the day?
Well, it appears that you face an uphill battle to losing weight and feeling confident in your skin.
But I am here to tell you this doesn’t have to be the case.
With a better understanding and a few actionable strategies in your back pocket, you can begin to take back control of your confidence and your body and no longer feel defeated when perusing your Instagram feed.
It Starts With Social Comparison Theory
According to Psychology Today,
“Social comparison theory states that we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others. As a result, we are constantly making self and other evaluations across a variety of domains (for example, attractiveness, wealth, intelligence and success).”1
The average person spends over 60 minutes per day perusing social media. And for any health-conscious woman, a lot of this time is spent admiring their “dream physiques.” I’m talking the potential to see hundreds per day. It’s this constant – and long-term – exposure that has reframed your mind to believe that this is the norm.
As a result of this behavior, you’re likely to exhibit signs of depression, anxiety, and failure if you do not feel as if you compare to the models you constantly see. In fact, you may even feel ugly or abnormal.
Remember yesterday when you came across a fit-celeb on Instagram basking in the sun wearing a bright red bikini and showing off what seemed to be a flawless body…?
What happened next?
You quickly got down on yourself and began questioning “why you even bother” because your conscious told you that you could never look like that.
It happens a lot…
But what you forget to realize in that moment (and the many other similar ones through the day) is that even though this woman may be beautiful and “perfect” in your eyes, she exercises for a living, has every meal catered, and doesn’t have a significant other or children to look after like you do…
So, yeah, it’s not really a fair comparison.
Read And React
This constant exposure and consequential feeling also drive your actions: I need to eat like Insta-famous person A and exercise like Insta-famous person B so that I can look as closely as possible to each and finally be as successful, wealthy, and happy as them.
This often means crash diets, unhealthy eating behaviors, and unsustainable exercise regimens that lead to short-term results and an eventual greater uphill battle with your health, weight, and body image.
Think about how many Celebrities there are that endorse fad diets or Insta-famous people you’ve seen endorsing specific shakes, supplements, detoxes, and cleanses…
In the heat of the moment, if you’re so wrapped up in trying to look like this person(s) you’ll believe everything they say and be first in line for this new supplement, shake, or diet eBook. However, if you take a step back, remove the emotion from the situation, you’ll often realize this person is being paid to promote said supplement or diet and in all honesty, may not even use it herself.
The Vicious Cycle In Real Time
After hitting the snooze button for the third time you grab your phone and silence your alarm. Next, you open up Instagram on your phone and begin scrolling mindlessly until something catches your interest.
Within milliseconds it’s likely you’ve already paused at least once on a desirable physique. For some, this may be a source of motivation. But for the vast majority of snoozers who struggle to get out of bed in the morning, this isn’t the case.
Instead, self-defeating thoughts flood your mind. You spend an extra 20 minutes in bed, skip breakfast (because eating makes you fat), and rush to work. Ravenous by the time you enter your cubicle at 9:30am, you grab a second cup of coffee and a donut someone left in the break room.
Fast-forward to the end of the day – after several more scrolls throughout the day – you encounter 10 more dream physiques that make you feel insecure and that you’re not good enough. What was supposed to be a date with the squat rack instead turns into a date with Ben and Jerry.
As you can imagine, if this behavior happens over and over again, you’ll only end up taking steps away from your goals rather than toward them.
Note from Paul: By no means do I mean this to example to be rude or to put down women. Men experience the same self-defeating thoughts and take part in similar self-destructive behaviors due to feeling as if they’ll never achieve their dream physique. I gave an example of a woman because my audience is primarily composed of women.
Action Steps To Change Your Mindset
1. Unfollow Trigger Accounts
Do you notice a pattern?
Each time you view (insert person or account name here) you immediately have negative thoughts or thoughts that you’re “not good enough,” “will never look like that,” or ones that question why you “even bother?”
If this is the case, stop following this account!
Or, those accounts!
They’ve become poisonous and rather than picking you up have done nothing but bring you down.
Unfollow and carry on.
2. Follow Accounts That Provide Value
After unfollowing the poisonous accounts, seek out those that provide value; those that are inspirational rather than accounts filled with only half-naked photos. I know that images of the person(s) you’re following can be inspirational at times, but make sure they’re a person or company who prioritizes education and providing value to their followers rather than boasting half-naked photos.
If you’re going to invest your time observing and reading their posts, at least ensure you’re getting a positive return on investment.
3. Write Down 3 Positives About Yourself Daily
Before you check Instagram, write down three positives about yourself.
- “I am proud of the progress I’ve made.”
- “I love my glutes.”
- “I am proud of my shoulders and arms.”
- “My hips and butt looked so good in last night’s dress.”
You get the point.
Lift yourself up!
Make it a habit.
- “Social Comparison Theory.” Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/social-comparison-theory.