Instagram can be great. But can fitness accounts play a hand in the downward spiral of someone pre-disposed to eating disorder behaviors? Could your use of instagram be putting you in danger?
Maybe. I know Instagram played a role in my story…
Let me start at the beginning
I was 17, I asked my abusive alcoholic mother to leave the house. It was the most difficult yet freeing conversation I’ve ever had. I was finally free of the emotionally abuse that had been a part of my daily life for over 10 years.
After she left, I began to heal. Yet, I was also searching for control. I felt like I was falling, and I was gripping onto anything that gave me a sense of control.
During this time, I stopped eating as much. My stress levels were high and eating became unappealing and felt a chore. But my exercise levels stayed the same. As an athlete, I was training a lot and not fueling myself enough.
THIS is control
After a few weeks, I I noticed that my muscles were more defined… I was a bit leaner. Yes, I thought. Control. THIS is something that I can control.
The danger of Instagram
So I started really restricting my food more consciously. And whenever I scrolled through Instagram there were always fitness accounts promoting exactly what I was doing. Controlling what I ate made me feel strong- and powerful.
After about 4 months of this, I scheduled a regular doctors appointment. Since my visit two months prior, I had lost a significant amount of weight- and it was putting my health in danger. My blood pressure was low and I was slightly anemic.
How did this even happen? I didn’t start all of this with a goal to lose weight.
Why did this happen?
I never started restricting my food with the intention of losing weight – I started because I saw people promoting it as “healthy” and ‘”fit”. Plus, it seemed like it could be a way to gain control.
Instagram fitness models failed me- their constant promotion of low calorie diets and highly active lifestyles made it seem like disordered eating behaviors were normal and healthy – and thus gave me a reason to continue with it until I had damaged my body.
That said, I don’t blame the accounts themselves for what happened to me. I blame society’s constant perpetuation of diet culture and promotion of dangerous disordered behaviors.
The lack of authenticity among fitness communities contributes to this as well – bodies are food are always filtered and edited to perfection.
Fitness accounts can lead to a dangerous acceptance of disordered behaviors.
Today, I am much healthier physically. I’m no longer anemic and my blood pressure is normal.
However, I still catch myself wanting to revert back to my disordered ways when “perfect” looking fitness and health accounts pop up on my Instagram “explore” page. Thankfully, I’ve learned to fight them and hit the “see fewer posts like this” button.
But back to you, warrior. Take this is a warning.
What you feed your brain can end up manifesting in your life.
If you’re struggling with disordered behaviors around food, take a hard look at what you’re letting yourself see on social media on a daily basis. While certain Instagram accounts may not be the problem, they could be contributing to the problem.
Just remember, your own health and well being is on the line.