The first time I realized social media had an impact on me was when a stranger online insulted my body and made me question what I posted.
“You’re a typical ugly fat black woman hating on your prettier, lighter and sexier friends’ attention!”
His words kept replaying in my head and I tried to convince myself that they didn’t hurt me.
But they did.
I had been out with friends and as young people do, we took pictures and posted them on Snapchat. An adult man I didn’t know took a liking to my friend and asked me for her number over the app.
She wasn’t interested, which is what I told him. The man made the comments above because he thought my refusal to give him my friends’ phone number was rooted in jealousy and not in the fact that she didn’t want me to.
His refusal to accept rejection seemingly justified his reasoning to insult me, a perfect stranger, all because I wasn’t his depiction of a beautiful woman.
Those words put me in a dark place to where I constantly thought about what he said and other remarks people had made about my appearance in the past.
Looking at myself in the mirror, I didn’t love what I saw. Every moment spent in the mirror made me want to change something about my body, becoming one negative observation after the next.
This had a significant effect on my self-confidence. I would often find myself comparing my appearance with other women on Instagram, thinking they were the epitome of beauty and that I would never fit in.
For many people, social media is a source of body image validation. A study linking social media usage to body image concerns said that the most affected users are the ones who spend most of their time on social media and compare themselves to the images they see.
The study also found that female college students who do this are more likely to link their self-worth to their looks. We are comparing ourselves to things that don’t really exist and are naturally left dissatisfied when we fall short.
Deep in self-hatred, I was tired and wanted change. Not liking who I had become and the deteriorating effect this was having on me, I realized that I deserved more. I was worth more than the words of an internet troll.
I refused to let those hurtful words consume me anymore and turned my pain into a passion. From that point forward, I was starting my journey to self-love by becoming more body positive.
The use of social media is inevitable in today’s world, however we can have some control in the content and messaging we expose ourselves to.
An idea came to my mind to surround myself with things that make my social media experience more uplifting towards how I view myself. I decided to follow people who would influence me to love myself. I was going to turn my social media space into a positive one.
The decision to follow people who constantly post encouragement and self-love throughout my timeline made a positive impact on how I saw myself.
Flaws of Couture is an apparel brand on Instagram and the company’s CEO, Sashagai Ruddock posts unapologetically about loving herself. She uses her platform to express that treating yourself with kindness is key.
In observing her self-love, it helped me attain self-love of my own.
Ruddock owns being a plus size social media influencer with positivity and encourages all women of any shape and size to do so as well.
In one of my favorite post on her Instagram page, she talks about how her former self would have thrown away any picture showing her stomach but now she embraces it. As she explains, it is just a stomach, why must she hide it?
I continued to follow more influencers just like Ruddock and it has truly made a difference in what I see when I log into my social accounts. I am now surrounded by post from women I can relate to, pushing me to be my best self mentally and physically.
Throughout starting my self love journey, I was inspired to start a beauty page of my own. My own advice to anyone looking to start their body positivity journey is to start looking in the mirror, say what you love about yourself out loud and claim it. After all, it all starts with how you see yourself.