I broke up with Facebook.
That’s right, I hit the delete button on 10 years of my social media life because it wasn’t helping me be happy.
Over the years Facebook offered many things but happiness typically wasn’t one. Facebook gave me a new method of comparison. Comparison between myself, my friends, mothers I didn’t know, and people I met once. Facebook helped change my view of myself because I didn’t “measure up” to the people on my newsfeed. Sound familiar?
The reason I started this blog was because of an article I saw on my newsfeed about a mother and her post-pregnancy body. It was an article a woman I met through a mutual friend (and met once) posted to prove that women can get their “bodies back” (to a degree) and simply accept what doesn’t change. Never mind the fact I already caught myself comparing my workouts to this person because she posted about running on the treadmill while her twins slept. Heck, when Vivienne sleeps, this momma sleeps. Posts like that–about mothers exercising instead of resting–made me feel like a terrible woman. What kind of stay-at-home mom doesn’t take the time out of her day to run or exercise when her baby sleeps? Seeing posts about pregnant women who were still lifting weights made me feel like I somehow screwed up when I was pregnant and that is the reason why I’m not the size I was before my daughter even two years after her birth. Every post became a new measure for why I didn’t add up or couldn’t be a good wife, mother, Christian, etc.
My Facebook was not recovery friendly. People often posted about their diets, how much they exercise, their weight-loss goals, and some even post about others in an attempt to fat or thin shame. I couldn’t take it anymore. Even people close to me, with whom it had been discussed about what triggers me, posted about “eating Paleo.” Reading about someone who is already thin posting about eating Paleo triggered me enough to look up how to do it…then I realized it would never fly with my dietician since entire food groups are cut out. My eating disordered brain was definitely frustrated and I felt angry and defeated. Looking at Facebook turned me on to new diet tips and tricks that I can’t use in recovery because the tips and tricks are eating disordered but people don’t realize it. While I can say the diets are eating disordered from a wise-mind standpoint in this moment, it was not always so easy when it caught my eye scrolling through my newsfeed. Just like leading me to look up how to eat a Paleo diet, Facebook introduced me to many diets that don’t fit into a healthy meal plan. It was exhausting fighting between my recovery and eating disordered mind when I signed into my Facebook account.
My Facebook increased my body checking/comparison behaviors. While my body checking began YEARS before Facebook was even developed, the booming social media site certainly didn’t help. Friends I hadn’t seen in years would post bikini photos from vacation and I would immediately begin comparing my body to theirs. My stomach wasn’t flat enough, my arms not toned enough, and don’t even get me started on my thighs….the comparisons went on and on. I would then proceed to look in the mirror and pick apart everything I did not like about myself and point out how so-and-so was obviously more disciplined because her body looked better in a PHOTO.
My Facebook flat-out made me angry. In case you weren’t sure, people are MEAN. People love to tear down others in order to make themselves feel better and that makes me angry. The amount of fat-shaming and refusal of acceptance I saw on a daily basis made me angry. People so easily assume those of us who are categorized as “overweight” or “obese” are lazy and therefore shouldn’t show ourselves to society. However, the shaming went both ways because I saw a fair amount of thin-shaming, too. Our society is pretty screwed up when we have to sling mud at each other in order to build ourselves up to feel some semblance of confidence. Not everyone who is overweight is lazy or wants to lose weight, just like not everyone who is thin is anorexic and needs to eat a sandwich. When will women realize we have to stick together because together we are our biggest advocate? At the rate Facebook shows, that answer will be never.
While I’ve only been without Facebook for about a week, it has been a pretty freeing week. As far as recovery goes, I have felt better about myself and done less comparing than I have in a very long time. I don’t wake up in the morning, reach for my phone, open my Facebook app, and proceed to check out my newsfeed; which means my day doesn’t start out with body comparison anymore. My day starts out by waking up and thanking God that I get to see another sunrise. My day starts out by getting up and doing yoga to become more in-tune and appreciate MY body; not anyone else’s.
Maybe the description of my social media sounds eerily familiar to yours. Perhaps you, too, wake up and start your day by comparing your life and body to someone else you see on Facebook. If you think it sounds familiar I encourage you to delete your Facebook (or twitter, instagram, etc.) and see how you feel about your body and yourself after just one week. If you think one week sounds too hard, I challenge you to try it for one day. Just one day without social media as the measuring stick for your body and life. My guess is you will like the free feeling you get from just being yourself and not comparing your life and body to anyone else.
After all, you are beautiful because no one else gets to be you.
With Body Love,