Being able to mix again is seen as freedom by many but is met with a sense of dread by some who feel they can’t match up to unrealistic expectations of ‘looking our best’.

Body image perceptions are distorted for people with body dysmorphia

Coronavirus has undoubtedly had detrimental effects on mental health; from enduring loneliness, depression and social anxiety, this past year has taken a severe toll on people’s wellbeing.

One concerning issue is the increase in body dissatisfaction that has led to an exacerbation of eating disorders, particularly among younger people, many of whom report a stronger desire to restrict their food intake or use food as emotional comfort.

A recent study by UK eating disorder charity Seed shows a 68% rise in those between the ages of 10 to 19 seeking support.

Psychologist Yingli Wang says the lockdown period has increased the anxiety of many over leaving their house.

A major contributing factor causing body image issues is social media. Disrupted daily routines and the stay at home order saw a rise in screen time and overall consumption of social media with internet users in the UK spending an extra day per month online in 2021.

Platforms like Instagram and TikTok are inundated with unrealistic and often photo-shopped images that can trigger new eating disorders or worsen pre-existing ones.

Content creator Megan Richards is an advocate for the body positive movement

However, social media influencer Megan Richards says there is also a growing space on these platforms to promote body acceptance and self love.

Having dealt with negative perceptions herself, Megan learned how to use social media as a tool to help with her low self-esteem. She discovered The Body Positive movement.

The body positive movement is a social media trend that aims to normalise different body types to reach self acceptance.

The core belief behind the movement is to love the body you are currently in without the need to significantly change the way you look. Activists embrace flaws like stretch marks, cellulite and body hair in an attempt to break down the conventional beauty standards.

It also encompasses more radical movements such as the anti-diet culture that believes food doesn’t need to be policed and that weight isn’t a defining characteristic for beauty.

This has helped many people overcome their poor body image and as it continues to spread across platforms, further progress can be made in learning to love yourself.

If you need further support or information about eating problems, follow the links provided below:

Beat charity

Help for adults
The Beat Adult Helpline is open to anyone over 18. Parents, teachers or any concerned adults should call the adult helpline.
Helpline: 0808 801 0677
Email: help@beateatingdisorders.org.uk

Help for young people
The Beat Youthline is open to anyone under 18.
Youthline: 0808 801 0711
Email: fyp@beateatingdisorders.org.uk