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How the Instagram algorithm makes us perceive our body less healthy than it actually is

The use of social networks is a constant in our time: most of us handle networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat, where we follow those accounts of friends, profiles that interest us or can provide information on specific topics. In our case, it is very likely that we will follow certain training profiles or healthy food.

Instagram is one of the favorite networks for lovers of fitness and healthy living. The power of images, in the form of photos and videos, makes the motivation to follow healthy habits reach many more people. But just as it can help us to be more motivated to follow a healthy life, it can also cause us the opposite effect in the form of personal frustration at not being able to reach standards too high for us.

Can social networks influence our view of ourselves? Can they make a dent in our self-esteem or even push us toward an eating disorder?

How do social networks influence our self-esteem?

Already in 2006 a study published in the SAGE Journals talked about how the continued exposure to very thin body models (in this case the study was carried out on women) could influence in a negative way in the perception of the body of people even with a high self-esteem. In this study we talked about images present in the media, but we can now access very similar images from our own social networks.

Another study, this one of 2016, specifically speaks to us of the direct relation between the use of social networks and the appearance of problems in the perception of our body and of eating disorders. Not for nothing, Instagram has on its own page a space specifically dedicated to eating disorders.

So, faced with the question of whether social networks can influence our view of ourselves, the answer is yes: they do. But, and here comes the crux of the matter, what these social networks show us is what we have indicated that we like.

The frustration of not being a ten

We may turn to social networks like Instagram for inspiration to get in shape or eat healthier, but what feeling we have left after seeing a lot of photos of perfect bodies, marked abs, figures without a single drop of fat? Surely a feeling of uneasiness, of feeling that we are not doing everything possible to take care of our body and our weight, that we need to tighten the nuts a little more to get to where the owners of our favorite Instagram profiles have come from.

In the Instagram “explore” tool (the magnifying glass that appears at the bottom of the screen), the app shows us images related to the people we follow and the likes we have previously given in other photos, following their Own algorithm . If you follow a bunch of Victoria’s Secret models and you’ve like a lot of photos tagged with the hashtag #bikinibody, pretty much that’s what will appear in your Instagram feed.

Social networks can be a double-edged sword when it comes to seeking inspiration to improve: they are certainly a good tool to find new exercises, to solve doubts or to give us that extra energy when it comes to training, but they can also become A source of frustration to see a lot of sculptural bodies (often loaded with Photoshop, this we can not forget either) that pass before our eyes every day on many occasions.

They may not even be sculptural bodies: they may simply be professionals of physical activity who have spent years dedicating themselves to it and that, when we find them by hand in social networks, we take as a model, thinking that we can do the same as them without knowing The story behind (probably years and years of training). On how this effect can be seen in the practice of Yoga, Suzanne Pascual rightly spoke a few days ago:

How can we end this vicious circle?

If you think that you are generating a great frustration due to the use (or abuse) of social networks, you can reverse that effect. As we said, Instagram shows us what we asked you to show us : it’s time to do a “cleaning of follows” in your account.

Identify those profiles of users that, rather than motivation, what they transmit is frustration and stop following them. He chooses to seek other mentors who transmit energy and positivity instead of impossible ideals . If there is some kind of image that you do not want to see again for your feed, remember that in the options (the three points in the upper right corner) you can find a button by displaying the menu that says “see less publications like this”.

It is important that we control the environment in which we move and from which we receive stimuli in our daily life: let us try to be positive and help us improve, not that we generate frustration and anxiety.


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