We know that body image and social media aren’t the best mix. But what can we do about it? There is help and today’s guest is telling us how!
It takes a lot of strength and self confidence to battle the world of social media. From unrealistic body images to diet culture, it’s brutal out there. Kourtney Thomas coaches us through the battlefield and helps us find our way!
Kourtney Thomas is on a mission to help women find their own inner Dolly Parton. Through guided self-discovery work and coaching, she helps women see themselves so they can trust themselves in every choice they make for their bodies, lives, and businesses.
On the daily, everyone needs the blunt (but kind) reminder that the only “right” way to do something is the way that works for YOU. With her background in fitness and life coaching, Kourtney has a gift for understanding all kinds of people, building instant rapport, and saying what she means without being mean.
She helps women cut through the fluff to the conversations that matter. There aren’t confetti cannons around here, but there’s a whole lot of grit and growth. When she’s not coaching, Kourtney enjoys bicep curls and hiking fueled by cake in Denver, CO, where she lives with her husband, dog, and two cats.
Make sure to join her email list to get the best info as you work your way towards your own inner Dolly!
Woman and Confidence
Many women struggle with inner confidence, knowing who they are and not caring about what others think. Doing what society thinks is right instead of what we truly want.
Kourtney likes to say that we should un”should” ourselves, don’t do what you should do but what you want and enjoy! This is the core reason why she follows the lead from Dolly Parton.
With Dolly, many people only see the big boobs and big hair, but underneath that she is an inspirational, motivational, savvy business woman.
She is worth millions, and gives away much of her money to help those in need (she has a non profit to activate literacy in children). She is one of the few people that has won almost all the music awards out there and many songs in pop culture today are all written by her.
From the time Dolly was 6 years old and was going to Nashville to start her career, she has known who she is and truly doesn’t care about what others think. Kourtney lives by her quote “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” This woman was way before her time when she began to pave the way for the future of women.
The Effect of Social Media on Body Image
The connection between self image and media consumption is not new. Even before the internet we had movies and magazines that provided images of women.
When we are constantly exposed to these images, we naturally begin to not only compare ourselves to them, but it leads us to think about our bodies more than we should be.
This in turn leads leads to other negative behaviors like negative body thoughts and other disordered behaviors.
The vast majority of what we see idealizes the thin ideal. It tells us that the thin fit white body is a good body, and anything else is not. This centralized generic message, has been repackaged over and over as new ways to be exposed have come into play.
Social media has given us instant and constant access to a vast array of images. It allows brands to sell products that will help us achieve this unrealistic ideas, basically leading us into a one size fits all approach.
The difference in males and females
While negative body image can in fact affect men too, there is a fundamental difference between men and women when it comes to social media.
This difference is the intent each gender has for going to social media in the first place. To put it simply, men use social media in different ways than women.
Men typically go online to connect with people or to find information. While woman go on to look at others and compare their lives to idealized images of other people’s lives.
So ultimately men have more intent with their use of social media, while women just go on to browse. While they browse, they too will connect with others and find information, and vice versa with men falling into the comparison trap.
But the original intention for each gender is very different which is what makes women more susceptible to having issues with confidence and body image. History has conditioned women to stack ourselves up next to each other for a long time.
Ways to Change
While social media and exposure to unrealistic ideals can lead to body dissatisfaction and negative body image, it doesn’t mean we have to simply accept it.
When we start to focus on the mental health piece and working on that, there is hope. While it may be best for some people to completely remove themselves from access to social media, some of us can turn it around.
As we focus more on body positive and beauty in all sizes, we can in turn curate our feeds to see more of this. Asking yourself if an account you follow leads to positive or negative thoughts is a start.
Much like friendships and cutting out those friends that make us feel bad inside, we can do the same with social media accounts. Instagram for example will show you more of what you follow and interact with.
If you follow accounts that bring positive thoughts, and interact with only those accounts, slowly your feed will be filled with more of that. It isn’t easy to take control, and getting professional help is a great way to get support in doing this. But there is a way for some of us to continue to use social media in a more positive way.
We need to change our mindset to thinking that it isn’t us that’s the problem. A big example of this is style and clothing. Many of the clothes that are made today are not made with realistic bodies in mind. Just look at the smaller sizes. Women that small are usually petite and short (this is me), but the length of pants is far beyond what any of our legs would reach.
I have to hem almost every pair of pants I buy. The unrealistic ideals surround us and it’s no wonder we have a hard time escaping them. But if we start to see the problem as them and not us, we can start the road to “hopefully” change.
Social Media and Addiction
As stated before, some people may not be able to have any access to social media in order to be fully happy and well. This is a reality that needs to be considered.
The psychology behind going onto social media and the downward spiral of seeking these perfect images and feeling bad about yourself is real. So ultimately we need to put our own mental health first.
The creators of social media apps intend to drag you in, to get you using their programs because that is how they grow and find success in their business.
Is it ironic that both people that use drugs and those that use social media are called users?
But while documentaries like the Social Dilemma uncover and portray the awful side of social media, I still do believe there can be a positive.
The online world can help contribute to a shift in what we see visually, moving from the unrealistic ideals of the past to new real images of the future. The rainbow of people from color of skin, to size to gender and just about anything that can celebrate differences.
It is going to take work for each of us to get to a place where we can honor our mental health and be able to access social media in a healthy way. Some of us may have to stay away altogether and that is ok. But I do think with time some of us can help pave the way to change.
Don’t forget to join Kourtney’s email list for help along the way!