From Kim Kardashian's appetite-suppressing lollipop sponcon to ultra-FaceTuned influencers, before-and-after photos to cleanse communities, Instagram has a reputation for being full of landmines that could wreck your self-esteem and body image. Some research has even shown that frequent Instagram use is associated with greater self-objectification, body image concerns, and appearance comparisons in young women. But Instagram is what you make of it, and some eating disorder experts believe that Instagram could actually be helpful for people in recovery.
When Paige Sklar, 22, entered treatment for anorexia nervosa when she was 18 years old, she felt like her whole identity was wrapped up in her eating disorder. A friend suggested that she follow some body-positivity and pro-recovery Instagram accounts, including National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), which led her to a whole world of people in recovery that she didn't know existed before.
"It gave me a sense of hope, because I was very much still struggling with my eating disorder, and having a lot of body dysmorphia issues," Sklar says. "But seeing that [recovery] is possible uplifted me and kept me going." Today, Sklar works for NEDA and credits social media for getting her where she is today.
Whether you're personally affected by an eating disorder or not, navigating Instagram in a healthy and safe way can sometimes feel impossible. Here are some tips from experts about how to curate your feed and use Instagram in a way that builds you up. Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses, and these are just a few small steps you can take to find support — but every step is important.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder and are in need of support, please call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. For a 24-hour crisis line, text “NEDA” to 741741.