Originally published April 24, 2013
Self-esteem issues used to be rooted in comparing your body to a supermodel’s, but now that social media dominates our culture, they’re more about comparing yourself to your peers.
Now, networks upon networks have access to your best and worst candid moments. They might be embarrassing. They might be shameful. They might make you think twice about having a burger for lunch.
What could be worse than looking at pictures of that one girl who always photographs spectacularly? Looking at pictures of her food.
Looking at photo after photo she posts of granola, blueberries and grilled chicken is anxiety-inducing. She probably thinks they’re just photos, or maybe she thinks they’ll help inspire people to eat better.
The photos are not meant to shame those of us who like a fair amount of carbs, but they still make you instantly compare your daily diet to hers. Your mind goes from zero to panic in 0.5 seconds because you’ve suddenly become aware that summer is around the corner and you ate two doughnuts and a slice of pizza today. Your thought probably had something to do with the infinite amount of hashtags under granola girl’s latest post, including but not limited to #cleaneating #healthy #beachbody #summerpreparations #behealthy #nofat.
The panic is the same feeling you get after ordering first at a restaurant. You get the loaded potato skins; your friend gets a pear salad with dressing on the side.
But the panic is worse online because you can’t change your mind and order the same thing as your friend. You’re stuck digesting your steak and queso burrito whether you like it or not.
Chances are, this is actually not that big of a deal. Think about all of the meals granola girl isn’t posting. She’s not perfect. You know that because, if she’s in your social media network, you probably know her.
Posting only photos of healthy food and grilled chicken recipes is her way of Photoshopping. Just like magazine photographers do, she’s editing her diet food photos by selecting the ones that will make her look best. There are so many other things she ate that day that weren’t photo-worthy.
So, take a breath.
Bottom line: Just because the only meals your friends post on Instagram have blueberries, an avocado, grilled chicken or granola, doesn’t mean that’s all they ever eat. Just like the models on the magazine covers — it’s all in the editing.