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Instagram And Butterfly Celebrate Positive Body Image Among Young Australians

Instagram, #TheWholeMe

Instagram and the Butterfly Foundation have partnered up to launch #TheWholeMe campaign which focuses on celebrating body positivity in young Australians and encourages them to use Instagram “mindfully and authentically”.

Social media is meant to be a space for people to express themselves confidently without the pressures of society’s unrealistic ideals looking over their shoulders. But, in today’s society, it has become increasingly difficult to avoid images of flawless, perfect-looking models and athletes on our timelines and feeds. As a consequence, a set of misplaced ideals on peoples’ appearances have come to put pressure on teenagers to look a certain way both online and offline.

Instagram and the Butterfly Foundation have surveyed over 5000 Australians between the ages of 19-30 yeas of age on the matter and found that just under 60% of people compare themselves to others on social media, with half wishing they looked like the people they compare themselves to.

The reason this kind of thinking is so dangerous is because feelings of dissatisfaction and comparing to other people is what triggers in people a need to change something, often leading to “quick fixes” in the form of restricted eating and over-exercising which can lead to a number of eating disorders.

It is important to understand a picture posted on Instagram does not tell the full story, it is in fact just a small glimpse. A lot of people show their best selves, in the best lighting, at the best parties…but the truth is no one is ALWAYS on holidays and no one is ALWAYS looking perfect. We’re human, we wake up with messy hair, tired eyes and we get bloated when we eat pasta. These are facts of life, but people don’t showcase those parts.

Instagram and Butterfly have put together a guide for both parents and teens that provides quizzes, features and tips to encourage have these conversations about body positivity.

Tips for parents

1# Learn how to work social media apps

In order to be able to help your teen, it is important to know how to use Instagram and all the other social media platforms. Head over to esafety.gv.au for more information.

2# Look beyond the physical

body image, instagram

Remind your teen that there is more to them than appearances. Being obsessed on how we look on social media is the root to negative impacts on self-esteem and general confidence.

3# Understand social media’s messaging

Most of the time, if someone in a picture looks too perfect, chances are it is. Teach your teen about the realties of airbrushing, filters and photoshop, and how these body standards are realistic and are just products of branding.

4# Challenge the ideals

Help your teen to understand that all bodies are good bodies and worthy of respect. Body ideals change overtime and for the most part are unrealistic, encourage your teen to channel their efforts into something that gives them purpose and value.

5# Encourage your teen to be the change

Fixing body image issues doesn’t happen overnight, but any effort makes a difference. Encourage your teen to post content that shows #TheWholeMe and not just idealised versions.

What to look out for

  • Obsession with weight, shape or size
  • Frequent comparisons to other people
  • Negative comments about weight, shape or size
  • Unhealthy dieting or excessive exercising
  • Social withdrawal

Tips for teens

1# Keep yourself in check –– Follow your feelings

After being online, see how you feel. If you start comparing yourself, try changing the way you use Instagram, or take a break. Look for accounts that interest you, not the pages that encourage dissatisfaction.

2# Find new follows

Use the # to your benefit by looking topics that you personally love to find people to follow who you know will post content that won’t negatively impact you.

3# Mute if you don’t want to unfollow

If you outright unfollow someone, it could spark a conversation you won’t necessarily want to have. Instead, avoid all the drama and just mute the account. You’ll still be following them, but their posts won’t show on your feed. Just tap the “…” button in the corner of one of their post and from there you can choose to mute posts or stories or both.

4# Make connections, not comparisons

Keep in mind that posts only show a small part of someone’s life, a part that has been edited and filtered so as to look perfect. But remember, perfection does not exist and 100% subjective.

5# Don’t be afraid to block someone

Yes you can mute, but sometimes enough is enough. Blocking someone will stop any issues you’re having right in its tracks. You’re in charge of your account, what you see and how you interact with – don’t forget that.

You can download the full guides here.

How to find a balance

The quality of your time spent online is important, but so is the quantity. Spending too much time on social media can mean that you’re possibly neglecting other important things in your life. Finding a balance between time spent offline and online is crucial.

1# Track your measurements

You can see how much time you’re spending on Instagram by going to the “Your Activity” section in settings. Consider sticking to a set amount of time per day.

2# Set a reminder to log off

Sometime we don’t see time fly by, so in order to remind you, you can set a daily reminder within “Your Activity” to tell you to log off.

3# Be in the moment

smiling, happy, mental health

Having your phone with you can be a distraction. Of course, it’s more than okay to take photos, but try putting it away and just taking in the present moment – you’re more likely to make less typos as a bonus.

4# Mute notifications

Sometimes the only reason we check our phones is because of notifications constantly popping up on our home screens. This hinders productivity and causes us to lose focus. Again, in the “Your Activity” section, tap notifications and and pause all until you want them back on again.

5# Give your phone a bedtime and wake-up time

Being on your phone late at night can actually stop you from falling asleep. Your brain needs time to rest before sleeping. In the morning, make sure that it is you that is waking up properly before your phone does. It’s okay to check your phone in the morning, but prioritise self-care before social media.

As part of #TheWholeMe campaign, four young Australians talk about their experiences with body image and social media.

Sarah Bryan – Body positivist activist

Felicia Foxx – Drag queen and activist

Braiden Fitzsimmons – Mental health advocate

Revathi Shanmugathasan​ – Curve model

We’re honoured to work with the Butterfly Foundation, one of Australia’s leading organisations in the fight for positive body image, and their expertise in crafting these helpful toolkits and videos has made #TheWholeMe powerful for young people and parent’s alike.” said Philip Chua, Public Policy Manager for Instagram Asia-Pacific. 

#TheWholeMe campaign is available now at https://thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/support-us/the-whole-me

Written by Emeric Brard

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