5 Ways Social Media Help to Fight Eating Disorders

The ubiquitous use of social media makes people always keep up with multiple online accounts. Switching between them, people consume a lot of information that may often carry a negative message. It’s been found out that social media corrupt self-esteem, reinforce the feelings of isolation and loneliness. The online environment can be very harmful to individuals who have mental illnesses, specifically eating disorders.

Although social media dictate people how they should look, thus having a negative impact on their self-image, they can also be of help. Owing to social media platforms, users launch online and offline campaigns to help those who suffer from eating disorders and want to change their lives. Online platforms also track users’ activity and take preventive actions when spotting gloomy posts and search queries. Here’s how social media assist people who suffer from eating disorders.

1. Instagram Hashtag Movements

Ideals of body attractiveness affect ED sufferers as they often compare their appearance to someone else’s. They see themselves as not thin or fit enough, and the perfect shape of their body is what they crave. Instagram is, unfortunately, the most convenient platform to watch people who are allegedly better than you. But there are users who destroy this harmful habit.
For example, Gina Susanna, a girl struggling with anorexia, had started an Instagram movement and encouraged other girls to post photos with no filter and show their tummy tucks using the #embracethesquish hashtag. Today it’s a popular campaign that unites people all over the world and promotes body positivity. There are also similar movements such as #CelluliteSaturday, #EffYourBeautyStandards, and #HonorMyCurves that boost self-confidence and courage to accept and love oneself. The number of participants who support and care for each other is skyrocketing.

2. Social Media Platforms Awareness

Undoubtedly, social media can provide helpful information for users. For instance, if you search for “eating disorders” on Tumblr, a popular blogging network, you’ll see a callout note that asks if everything is okay.

Tumblr callout "Everything okay?"

Tumblr callout “Everything okay?”

It doesn’t claim that you are the person who suffers from a particular disorder but gently assumes that you may know someone who needs help.
While searching for similar things on Instagram, a person will be offered to learn more about eating disorders and get support. It navigates users to the Privacy and Safety center that has information on how to spot signs of an eating disorder, how to help sufferers and what organizations to contact for further assistance.

Instagram content advisory disclaimer

Instagram content advisory disclaimer

3. ED Recovery Profiles

Fortunately, a lot of people spread the word about their positive eating disorder recovery encouraging those who suffer to fight too. Tumblr aggregates a number of blogs with personal stories, motivational photos and videos, and actionable advice. Using this social platform people share their positive experience and are ready to help others.

Recovery profiles on Tumblr

Recovery profiles on Tumblr

Instagram is also a relevant platform to search for motivational and success stories about other people’s struggle. For example, #EDrecovery hashtag search results are 3,000,000+ posts. The majority of posts contain photos of food and personal stories attached and tell about people’s successful recovery process.

#EDrecovery post on Instagram

#EDrecovery post on Instagram

The movement of people who survived a particular disorder is huge and promising. People share their anecdotes and experience and are sympathetic to the stories of others, they leave compassionate and supportive comments, and give each other a lot of encouragement. Social media that were meant to spread the ideas of an “ideal” body at the same time have become a shelter for those who suffered from these ideals.

4. Twitter Chats

Eating Disorder Hope is a large online community that provides ED sufferers, their friends, families and other ED treatment organizations with educational information and assistance. This company has launched an interesting initiative to offer more help. From time to time they hold a Twitter-based event in a form of an open discussion with ED treatment specialists and other invited speakers. The discussion follows an ED-related topic and anyone can join it by tweeting at the scheduled time with the conversation hashtag included. Every chat is recorded and then posted on the company’s website.

5 Facebook Public Help Profiles

Facebook’s case is the most intriguing one. The platform has gained a pretty negative reputation of a place that people like, but it makes them sad. Speaking of eating disorders, researchers have investigated the impact of Facebook on ED recovery process. The common issue is that people who received group treatment continue to review Facebook profiles of their peers who were in the group too. ED fighters compare their recovery outcomes to the success of others, which may lead to deep dissatisfaction. But there’s always “on the other hand”, and Facebook is not an exception.
The platform hosts pages of organizations that promote local care for ED sufferers. To reach the most relevant audience, such companies offer their non-profit service via Facebook’s advertising features. These businesses provide actionable advice and valuable consulting services for everyone who needs them.

Facebook local ED support center page

Facebook local ED support center page

There are also closed Facebook groups that post inspiring messages and induce people to tell their stories and come out with their problems. Here people can safely and privately describe their disorder and the way they fight it, they can talk to like-minded friends encouraging and supporting each other.

The Bottom Line

Social networks usage is a challenge, especially for those who have particular mental illnesses. This online environment often shows unrealistic body images that can lower someone’s self-esteem, thus causing additional, more serious problems. With this article, we have clarified that there is also the positive side of social media. Both platforms and people who use them try to help each other, showing that there is always hope for every person who suffers from eating disorders.

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