[Article updated on 10/11/2023]
Like many media such as the celebrity press, social networks are singled out as being a vector of the cult of appearance. This is demonstrated by the reactivity of France wishing to limit access to sites encouraging anorexia in its 2015 health bill.
Before reading on
I’m not an expert in this field, but I am passionate about nutrition and health.
The articles you’ll find on my site are the result of in-depth research that I’d like to share with you. However, I would like to stress that I am not a health professional and that my advice should in no way replace that of a qualified physician. I’m here to guide you, but it’s important that you consult a professional for specific questions or medical concerns. Your well-being is important. So be sure to consult the appropriate experts and take the best possible care of yourself.
Showcase your lifestyle on social media
But, contrary to this regulatory position which is very suspicious of the role of social networks, more and more people are seeking at the same time to share their lifestyle on the web. By publishing their balanced meals, overexposing their sporting activities and seeking at all costs to highlight their body. If the authors of these different publications can feel comforted in their approach and in their way of life, in particular by the “like” and “like” systems of the different digital platforms, they in the same way create negative extraneities on people following its progression.
Indeed, by overexposing a perfectly healthy lifestyle, by passing it off as a common and widespread practice, when in reality it is partial or even episodic. We give the image of access to the latter undeniably inaccessible, at least for the layman who has not yet changed his eating and sporting habits. This practice of beautifying, sharing and devoting a true cult to food has even been attributed the fabrication of “ Food Porn » (1), the French equivalent of food pornography. It is important to emphasize that even when having a balanced diet and practicing a sporting activity, anyone, even a dietitian nutritionist, orders a pizza or sushi from time to time. Just like gruyere pasta is a step for everyone to take when the fridge is ringing empty. But these hazards of a healthy lifestyle, which we wish to expose, are passed over in silence, on the grounds that they would darken the picture and too bad if there is no food publication for a day.
Perfection and guilt
The primary consequence is that people wishing to be inspired by such lifestyles adopt a perception of them as being unencumbered “perfection”. Even making certain fragile people who have a fairly decent diet feel guilty, persuading them to actually have a lifestyle made up of junk food and idleness. A study from the University of Pittsburgh (2), published on May 5, 2017, suggests a correlation between addiction to social networks and eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, etc.). This overexposure to fitness activities and perfectly balanced diets would increase the risk of being affected by eating disorders by around 250%.
However, in an interview for Madame Figaro (3), sociologist Antonia Casilli affirms that this study does not show a “ correlation “, that is to say a cause and effect relationship between social networks and eating disorders. But rather a relationship of association » which could be explained by the fact that a person having problems with food will be more likely to expose themselves to different healthy lifestyles. In addition, the study demonstrates that the people exposed to disorders are often the younger generations (18-35 years old), but this generation has the main characteristic of having a more advanced social interest than the previous ones in aesthetics and image of themselves. The sociologist therefore insists on the danger of attributing responsibility for eating disorders to social networks, the latter being much more complex. Can be generated by a simple lack of health infrastructure pushing people to seek help on the internet, a climate of competition in a company, etc. Eating disorders are very often due to very personal experiences.
Social networks and dietary health are not opposed
THE social networks are therefore not the enemies of health eating. Be aware of the harmful effects they can having on behavior is certainly important; but just like the moderation of the causes to be attributed to them. You have to look at the causes and consequences of eating disorders in hindsight necessary science.
Social networks are also sources of positive effects which are less highlighted. In addition to the exposure and ease of access they provide to healthy lifestyle practices, they can prove to be a beneficial tool for several eating disorders.
The young Canadian Jordane Giguère says in an interview for Huffingtonpost (4) that she gradually came out of her anorexia through her Instagram account. By publishing her feelings and having the unwavering support of a community of a thousand people, the young woman was able to hold on and feel supported. Support and surroundings are very important factors in curing an eating disorder. In the same vein, the publication of Rachel Legrain-Trapani (Ex Miss France 2007) of a photo of herself 10 years after her election was able to reassure many women about the evolution of the body between 18 and 28 years old. This approach taken by the latter is very commendable “I wanted to say: Don’t panic girls, I’m like you, when I left the maternity ward I didn’t put my size 36 pants back on, I’m a normal 28 year old woman, mom” (5).
Social networks are therefore double-edged, summarizes Caroline Pesant, pediatrician specializing in eating disorders. They can be a vector of encouragement for a healthy life and for the most serious cases towards an end to the illness, just as they can also be a justification of the symbiosis that one feels with their illness when seeking support, which could cause the patient to truly become trapped.
Networks are above all tools. Like any tool, they do what you make them. It is necessary to be aware of their disadvantages and their beneficial sides, in order to use them wisely.
(1) What is Food Porn? – RestoConnection – 9/11/2015
(2) Journal of the academy of nutrition and dietetics – 5/05/2017
(3) Do social media promote eating disorders? – Madame Figaro – 05/19/2017
(4) Instagram as a way to combat eating disorders – HuffingtonPost – 08/22/2016
(5) Rachel Legrain-Trapani, Miss France 2007, victim of body shaming – Youtube: Brut. – 06/23/2017