Photographed By Fernanda Silva.
We've written extensively about the many ways that social media can contribute to depression. From FOMO to reverse perspective, studies have shown that Facebook-induced feelings of discontentment and inadequacy are not just a millennial myth.
As if there weren't enough self-worth minefields to navigate on Facebook, the company has added a bunch of new ways to make you feel bad about yourself. The company includes a set of "Health and Wellness" events you can post on your personal timeline; they range from quitting a habit to overcoming an illness to getting your braces off. And, you can post about losing weight. This particular section lets you share when, how, and how much — it even give you the option to upload photographic proof.
Of course, this feature could be pretty empowering and positive for many people. As someone who achieved dramatic weight loss a few years ago, I know this process and its results can evoke a great sense of pride and accomplishment. And, seeing others succeed could motivate some to pursue their own weight-loss goals.
However, it's not hard to imagine how a feature like this could be harmful to the self-image of many, many Facebook users. There's something that feels a little bit wrong about bringing weight into the user experience in such a concrete, heavy-handed way. And, especially for those suffering from eating disorders, being confronted online by others' weight information would presumably exacerbate what is already a destructive relationship between body image and social media.
According to Kristina Saffran, co-founder of the eating-disorder treatment nonprofit Project HEAL, "Because eating disorders are usually cloaked in shame and secrecy, seeing constant 'weight loss' updates from friends and family members on their news feeds will only serve to reinforce the idea that losing weight and being thin are the ultimate triumphs in our society."