Body Image Concerns and Social Media

I’m worried that my weight has gone up/gone down during lockdown

Some people with eating disorders may be anxious about whether their body has changed during lockdown. It’s important to look at whether any unhelpful body checking behaviours have crept in over this time, such as obsessively looking at photos, taking videos or pictures of yourself, mirror gazing or trying clothes on multiple times per day. We know that these kind of behaviours actually increase concerns about body weight and shape. It might be helpful to seek support if you think this may be becoming an issue for you, or if you’ve noticed these behaviours increasing. If you’re able to start identifying some of these behaviours, try and write down some goals to minimise them. For example, one goal around this issue could be choosing your clothes the night before and not allowing yourself to change outfits during the day.

There may be lots of talk in the media or social media around losing weight after lockdown. Remember to take breaks from the news or social media if you feel like they are increasing your worries around food, weight and shape.

I’m worried that people will comment on my body/weight after lockdown

After having a period of not seeing people, you may be concerned about socialising again in case any comments are made around your body or weight. Often people won’t make comments, or any they do make are meant with care; however, worries about this can be difficult to manage and leave you feeling anxious about meeting people. One way to manage this could be to raise your concerns with people before you meet them – it could be helpful to share how difficult comments about your body can be, and to ask them to keep the conversation to other things.

If you don’t feel able to or like you want to raise your concerns, it could be useful to think of what you would like to say if someone does mention anything about your body or your weight. Often people may not realise how difficult hearing these sorts of comments can be, so you could say that you are recovering from an eating disorder, and don’t find it helpful to talk about that. If you don’t want to mention the eating disorder, you could think about ways to change the subject – are there specific things you could think of to talk with that person about, so you have a question ready that will steer them off the subject of weight? If a comment is made, it could also be helpful to think about things you can put in place to help you manage any tricky thoughts or feelings that arise from this. For example, is there anything you can remind yourself of or a recovery goal you can hold in mind? Or is there someone you can talk to or something you can do to distract yourself? You could see if any of the suggestions on this page are helpful.

How can I keep myself safe on social media during lockdown?

The restrictions and closure of places of work and education mean many people have more free time and limited ways to spend it. This might mean spending more time than usual on social media.

Social media can be helpful sometimes – in the face of the isolation caused by lockdown, it can be a way to feel connected to others, and many find it useful to stay up to date in a rapidly changing situation. But it can also create anxiety and stress, both because of things in the news that may cause worry, anger, or distress, and because it exposes people to potentially triggering content about food and exercise.

Try to limit the time you spend on social media if you find it’s causing stress or triggering eating disorder thoughts or behaviour. You could set a limit on the times of day or number of hours you can spend on social media, which many phones and browser extensions allow you to do. You could also block sites or delete apps from your phone if you’re really finding it hard.

Think about which of the accounts you’re following are beneficial to you right now. Perhaps you could bookmark direct links to those accounts, or add them to lists/filters if possible, so that you don’t have to see your whole social media feed or trending topics that might be difficult. Remember, there’s nothing wrong with protecting your mental health if someone’s content is having a negative impact on you. Consider muting or unfollowing accounts you’re struggling with – if you want to, you can refollow later.

Consider other ways you could spend your time. You could think about the reasons you spend time on social media so you can think about what else might fulfil that need, such as using other platforms to find community (like Beat’s online support group the Sanctuary), or getting updates about current events from a trusted news source or from someone you know who can find out information for you. It could also be that social media is an easy, accessible distraction that you find yourself looking at without really thinking about it, so rearranging your apps or bookmarks so that things like simple games, books or podcasts are more immediately available could be helpful.

Page last updated: 04/06/2020