Facebook and body image

How Social Media Can Influence Body Image

Social media provides a great deal of resources but also has a strong influential presence. Facebook can be an excellent way to stay connected to friends and family but can also become a means of self-comparison, which may validate a person’s pervasive insecurities.

As a society, we are strongly influenced by all forms of media and constantly given messages about weight loss, self-improvement, diet and exercise that reinforce the concept of the “thin ideal.” The problem is not with Facebook but with how it is being used.

An important part of treatment is to have honest conversations regarding how patients use social media to reinforce eating disorder behavior and how they are affected by what other people post. Often times, patients are discouraged to use Facebook and other social media initially during treatment, when beginning to work on body image.

It is impossible to remove yourself from societal pressure without going into complete seclusion. The key is to help patients identify the meaning behind the behaviors and how to restructure thought processes. We cannot control what others do, say or post to Facebook. We can control our responses to others and with whom we choose to engage.

Laura Pattee, B.S.N., R.N., is a charge nurse for the eating disorder program at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

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