Women with body confidence issues should spend less time on social media, according to a mental health advisor.
Ariana Lewis says that research suggests that social media portrays unrealistic body goals, leading to people negatively perceiving their own bodies.
And so the 21-year-old, who is a mental health advocate at the Ellern Mede clinic in London and part-time model, is encouraging people to manage their time on social media.
“So many people have a negative body image nowadays,” she said.
“Research suggests that negative exposure from social media is the main contributor in portraying unrealistic body goals, mainly due to what would seem like the idolisation of bodies that have had lots of cosmetic surgery.”
A lack of body confidence is known as body dysmorphia, which is the feeling of never liking the way you look, to the point where it becomes an obsessive thought.
She added: “This then causes an obsession to change the way we look to an unhealthy extent and causing mental health problems.
“Whenever I model, people are always critiquing the way I look and it does get to you, it is a very hard mindset to escape once you have it.
“One way that we help women improve their body confidence is by restricting their time on social media.
“Another way is regularly exercising, this will increase production of serotonin and endorphins, and surrounding yourself with people who reassure you and have a positive effect on your mood, not a negative one.”
For males, it would seem that the main form of body dysmorphia is the feeling of never being muscular enough.
This form of body dysmorphia is more commonly known as “bigorexia”.
According to the International OCD Foundation, 2.9% of the general population have recorded cases of body dysmorphia. But, it would appear that the problem is the amount of unrecorded cases.
In a survey conducted on Instagram by Storyhub revealed that 91% of the 90 respondents said they had experienced body confidence issues in the past, with 38% of those saying their body dysmorphia stemmed from social media outlets.
Dr David Trenchard, 55, of Church View Medical Centre in Devon, has mentioned some of the measures he has seen people take in order to change their bodies.
“I have seen it all too often in my practice.
“For women, the desire to change their physical appearance through the usage of vast amounts of plastic surgery is the main problem I see.
“The illness is so hard to detect because there is a fine line between wanting to improve your physique and it becoming a mental health problem.
“One common denominator I see in men is the usage of anabolic steroids.
“When someone is making a cocktail of steroids to use, the dangers are extensive.
“The main one being Addison’s disease, this is where the body does not create its own natural hormones because it relies on the steroids and stops natural production”.
“The healthiest way to combat this illness is through healthy amounts of exercise”.
He added: “Having a diet plan, doing regular cardiovascular exercise three times a week and not drinking excessively is the best way to change your body”.
However, 21-year-old Alice Wood opted for plastic surgery to help her body dysmorphia and she says she does not regret the move.
The car salesperson, of Nottingham, said: “Around a year ago my body confidence was at rock bottom.
“Social media has always been a big part of my life and constantly seeing perfect women on Instagram made me feel awful about the way I looked.
“Last summer I took the plunge and opted for a breast enhancement and lip fillers.
“I haven’t felt more confident within my own skin.”