The war between self love and self hate

The power of social media over our self image

*TW: discussion of extreme dieting habits and disordered eating, please read with caution.*

As I scroll through my social media, especially TikTok, every afternoon, I notice how my feed is filled with constantly contradicting messages about how I should feel about my body. One video will tell me to love myself under any circumstance, the next will say how eating carbs is crucial for my hormones followed by a video promoting a carb-free diet, and another video will be a girl joking about how her daily intake consists of only iced coffee and chewing gum. While I am lucky to be a teenager who has never battled an eating disorder, even I feel overwhelmed and confused by the nuanced opinions about health and fitness on social media.

I feel alarmed by the number of TikToks I see of people sharing that they eat as little as a cup of coffee and gum during their day, or that they avoid cooking their food in any oil to avoid the extra calories. Thankfully, these videos are often removed from the platform, but this is after thousands of young and impressionable people have had access to them. However, videos of teenagers asking their viewers to share advice for fast weight loss, “healthy or unhealthy, legal or illegal,” manage to slip through the cracks. I open the comments, and instead of people uplifting the creator and telling them that they do not need to change to feel beautiful, the viewers enable the message by giving suggestions such as “don’t eat until dinner” or “limit yourself to 1200 calories a day.”

My heart breaks to see thousands of teenagers share a mindset of prioritizing an unobtainable body standard over health and nourishment. What I’ve come to learn is that when you approach food and fitness with a mindset of self hate, no change will ever be good enough.

Countering the darkness of diet culture and self loathing, many social media users are using their voice to spark change and promote a movement of self love and acceptance. Young women such as Brittani Lancaster, Mik Zazon, Victoria Garrick, and Clara Guillem have inspired tens of thousands of people on their social media platforms by opening up about their experiences with eating disorders and encouraging their audiences to accept themselves at every weight and angle.

USC Volleyball Star Talks Eating Disorders and Mental Health in Female Athletes



In this feature by Popsugar, Victoria Garrick shares her experience as a college athlete who has struggled with an eating disorder. She uses her platform to encourage athletes to support their bodies through food and a healthy balance with exercise.

These social media influencers all have different experiences with eating disorders and struggles with body image, yet have something in common: they have found the beauty in what society deems to be imperfect and inspire thousands by emphasizing these “imperfections” instead of hiding them.

I hope that more and more people, especially adolescents and teenagers, learn from the pioneers of self love and acceptance, ultimately shifting the societal standards of perfection to a world where every body can be celebrated. By making the choice to nourish our bodies and treat them with respect, we have the power to reshape the current perception of what health looks like.