Toxic Trends: Behind-the-Screen of Social Media

The shadow of social media trends and the body positivity influencers who are keeping things real.

Toxic Trends: Behind-the-Screen of Social Media

Social media has changed how we engage and communicate with those around us. Staying updated on people’s lives through social media, creating catch-up events through Facebook, and now, entertaining ourselves creating TikTok dances. There are so many great things that social media has contributed to our lives that allow us to stay connected with people and the world. However, during this coronavirus period, one large consequence social media brings is the toxic trends that we are being exposed to.

All over social media for the last few months have been images, photos and posts about people using this time to achieve goals, specifically concerning fitness. I’m sure none of us are strangers to the ‘Chloe Ting 2 Week Ab Shred’ or the #whatieatinaday trends that have been circulating social media since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdowns.

While it is a positive thing that people are focusing upon getting healthy and fit, it is the promotion and glorification of unhealthy ways to do it or projections and reinforcements of unrealistic beauty standards that make these trends so toxic. A study found that between 80-90% of teenagers cannot tell the difference between real and fake news, and therefore exposure to these platforms that boost invalid and unreliable information is incredibly dangerous.

These trends are not only warping our body image perceptions, but they’re encouraging people to become more fixated on the way they look, the amount of exercise they’re doing and what food (and how much) they’re eating. A photo or video can be distorted in so many different ways, and that becomes so threatening when it starts to become the perceived ‘normalised’ standard of beauty.

View this post on Instagram

Let’s talk LIGHT and CELLULITE. And, hey, why you’re BUMBUM is great at all hours of the day. All these pics are my bum. The MAIN difference is the lighting. On pictures snapped during midday or harsh sun (usually around 12 – 3pm), my cellulite is saying hello. The more gentle, subtle cellulite pops up on photos that I took around sunrise / sunset. And then the pics where you can’t see my cellulite at all? Those are either backlit (so the sun is in front of me and the photographer is shooting towards it) or I’m in complete shade. When there’s no harsh light crashing down, there are no bright highlights and dark shadows. So lumps and bumps get smoothed. Of course there are a few posing differences. I’m popping and arching in the bottom left (perky peach!), and I’m giving a lil squeeze in the one right above it (cellulite!). But basically, the long and short here is that LIGHT is often used to HIDE WIGGLES and JIGGLES. So now onto my next point: Your body, whether it’s your tooshie or your arms or your fabulous neck acne (my newest thing o.o) deserves to be seen at all hours of the day, in all the light. How it shows up in PHOTOS may vary. But how YOU exist, and how YOU show up? That has NOTHING to do with some silly snapshot moment, and EVERYTHING to do with what’s going on inside. So today, give your MIND and HEART a lil bit of LOVE. Treat your BODY with KINDNESS. And know that YOU are AMAZING. You are. You absolutely are. I hope this helps. x All photos by @chiclebelle who is undoubtedly tired of my bum by now. #celluliteisnormal #stretchmarks #cellulite #strengthmarks #instavsreality #selflove #bodyacceptance

A post shared by Danae | Angles + Self Love (@danaemercer) on

TikTok is the latest social media platform that is an example of these toxic trends. What once was an entertaining app filled with dance videos is now an exposed platform for videos of diet fads promoting ‘how to lose weight quickly’ or videos rating friends based upon their physical appearance. Again, it is the promotion of unhealthy ways to lose weight or the increased pressure to look a certain way to be considered ‘beautiful’.

As stated previously, not all social media is bad. The way we choose to harness the platform is a powerful tool. Whether we ourselves choose to promote more realistic beauty standards or even just following body positivity influencers, social media can connect us to platforms that help us grow in confidence, positivity, celebrate diverse beauty and bring us more realistic perceptions. Here are some of our favourite influencers:

View this post on Instagram

Once upon a time, I looked in the mirror and saw nothing but ugliness. Because that is what society associates fatness with. I never saw bodies like mine out and about like this. We were kept within the confines of the deepest, darkest pornographic sites: a feast for those who carried fetishes for our body types, but now I look at it and I exhale in relief and joy. Our bodies deserve to be normalised in all its uniqueness and amazingness. This body may still be seen as grotesque, or ugly to some, but it’s mine, and I’m the one who lives in it, not you. I still deserve the same love and respect as those in smaller bodies. Plus, we deserve all the cute underwear too! Thank you so much @lindablacker for making us feel so liberated and special during this shoot. ? Underwear – @playfulpromises x @gabifresh

A post shared by Stephanie Yeboah (@stephanieyeboah) on

Brittani Lancaster – TikTok
Ambar Driscoll – TikTok
Lauren Talulah – TikTok (@curvy_roamer)
Abbie Chatfield – Instagram
Stephanie Yeboah – Instagram
Joann van den Herik – Instagram (@joannvdherik)
Jessica Megan – Instagram (@jess_megan_)
Danae Mercer – Instagram

View this post on Instagram

It’s been over a year of being in the media to a certain degree and comments like these only get a tiiiiny bit easier. Yes, they’re laughable. Yes, our value doesn’t come from our weight and yes, being “fat” shouldn’t even be a bad word BUT it still sucks. It gets exhausting and I just want it to stop. I want it to stop for me, but also for people who read these comments and think it’s the norm. Speaking about women as objects, analysing their weight and saying you would “take them for a ride” is especially repugnant. Saying all I need to do is stay the “correct” weight is… fucked? It implies that to have worth I need to stay thin, and that my value exists only when I fit into a standard of beauty that is not realistic. Right now I have put on weight (hellllooooooo uber eats for every meal for 2 weeks) and tbh am struggling to look in the mirror naked, throwing on a towel before I have chance to see myself, I feel like we’ve all been there? I’m actively trying to not suck my stomach in constantly because my lower back pain is out of control from trying to contort my body 24/7 to be more “appealing”. Seeing comments like this about my body constantly just make me feel defeated. It isn’t fair that this is the societal norm, and I am really struggling with my body at the moment so it’s just kicking me while I’m down. BUT what do I do when I feel insecure? Post the insecurities here so you can all see! Huge GRRR energy.

A post shared by ABBIE CHATFIELD (she/her) (@abbiechatfield) on

These are only a few of some powerful influencers working to break false senses of reality, spread body confidence and turn insecurities into positivity. The corrupt and toxic nature of Netflix’s ‘The Social Dilemma’ has only reinstated the need to be more careful online and how social media is very quickly becoming a damaging tool to our everyday lives.

Next time you see a body image trend, take a second to think about what’s really going on behind-the-screen.