Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

YouTube and its impact on body image

CW: discussion of food and body image

As YouTubers and influencers have been limited to filming indoors and alone, ‘What I Eat in a Day’ videos are one of the most common forms of video on the rise during the past few months of lockdown. Alongside these videos often come advertisements promoting diet teas and quick fixes to losing weight, seemingly in response to the motivations that many of us have to transform themselves over lockdown. YouTube is becoming even more damaging to our body image.

Since lockdown began, many online fitness gurus have been setting challenges, such as Courtney Black’s one-month transformation challenge, and vloggers are jumping on the trend to track their progress and talk about their experiences. With many YouTubers also having a large Instagram following, they are encouraged to promote influencer-led brands such as Lounge Underwear. This often means that they can fall into the trap of creating an idealised image of their bodies.   

I remind myself that all bodies are different

A great deal of the YouTubers endorsing the fitness challenges, which are advertised to transform the look of our bodies, rather than our strength and health, are already considered to be a healthy weight and stereotypically ‘attractive’. This can make us as viewers feel inadequate and as though we also must better ourselves.   

Over the years, I have become accustomed to the social media world of perfected, edited lives and bodies. However, after being away from these platforms when revising, as well as reading more about self-confidence – I have realised how damaging these tweaks and advertisements are.

‘What I Eat in a Day’ videos are a prime example of this. I find them intriguing to watch, especially if I consider the person to have my ideal body type. Often, when I watch their supposed daily meals, I am surprised that they are not worlds apart from what I tend to eat. Then, I remind myself that all bodies are different. We all react differently to alternative routines and foods.

She provides a refreshing outlook to our bodies

As I’ve come to terms with the different ways that this genre of diet and fitness videos can negatively impact on our body image, I have been researching people I can follow on these platforms that promote body positivity and confidence. I found that it can be an enlightening and amazing place for people to come forward and be happy with their true, imperfect angled photos.

One of my favourite influencers is Chessie King, and I have recently read her new book How to be Your Own Best Friend: The Glorious Truths of Being Female. She discusses how powerful and beautiful are bodies are, referring to them as a “home”. This concept is something I have never come across before. Frankly, when considering my body, I tend to think of its appearance rather than its amazing internal functions, and how fortunate I am to have a healthy body.

Chessie also regularly posts on Instagram the reality behind her photos, with no shame. She provides a refreshing outlook to our bodies, encouraging people to dance around in their bikinis no matter what they look like. Everything she does is a true inspiration, all done in a light-hearted and personal manner. Similarly, on twitter, I find Malin Andersson incredibly inspiring. She consistently posts videos of her in her underwear or bikinis, with words of confidence to fellow females.

We should all embrace our so-called flaws and remember how incredible our bodies are

Jameela Jamil has recently launched her ‘I Weigh’ project on YouTube. She first began this project in 2018 in an attempt to praise body diversity and expose toxic dieting, as well as always refusing to edit photos of herself. This came after she was branded as “jealous” of Kim Kardashian. She aims to provide advice on topics women have, especially regarding body confidence. 

I encourage you to search for these inspirations, and it may even give you a new outlook on your body image. When it comes to YouTube, I have realised the importance of embracing the positive mantras of certain influencers and asserting that every person’s body is different. We should all embrace our so-called flaws and remember how incredible our bodies are.

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