When "Selfies" Get Destructive and What I Do About It!

Over the past 5 years, the “selfie craze” has taken social media, our smart phones, and our email, by storm. Most of us (including me) are guilty of this silly ego-based activity... taking a picture that we think is attractive of ourselves and sending it out into social media land via Facebook profile or Instagram. In moderation and in recognition that we are grasping (to some extent) for the approval and attention of others, I don’t see it as a huge stinkin’ deal. 

However, with respect to body image, taking pictures of our bodies can be super destructive. “Body selfies” we will call them, can fall under the broader category of an obsessive and self-destructive behavior called "body checking."

Nooo! Not THAT kind of body checking! More like this:

According to NEDA, the National Eating Disorders Association, body checking refers to an obsessive compulsive behavior or thought regarding physical appearance. Body checking can come in many forms:
-    Frequent checking in mirrors and anything reflective
-    Pinching the body in various areas
-    Asking others for reassurance often “Do I look fat in this?” “Do I look like I gained weight?”
-    Weighing yourself excessively to "check-in" 
-    Taking pictures of body and posting for reassurance and acceptance  

Anonymous person with a broken leg. Hmmmm? This was a "progress pic" sent to my coach. Until I decided that progress pics aren't for me!

Anonymous person with a broken leg. Hmmmm? This was a "progress pic" sent to my coach. Until I decided that progress pics aren't for me!

One of the most misleading things about having body-checking behaviors and struggles with body image is that quite often, the people around you may misinterpret your self-destructive behaviors for vanity. While this may be true for some selfie-ers, this is SO not the case for a lot of us. Yes… I said “US.” I have struggled with body checking for many years. 

Story Time.
This past year, I was “checking” myself in a glass picture frame, when my housemate totally caught me. Oy! He jokingly poked fun at me, saying, “Stop checking yourself out all of the time, you look fine. Jeeze!” I was so confused at his statement (and mortified)! He thought I was being vain by looking at myself often, all the while, I was having anxiety about my appearance and obsessively “checking” to see if I was “ok.”

This has been a struggle for me for about 10 years… For me, it’s mirrors. I used to have the constant urge to “check” if I looked “acceptable." I then saw unacceptable, which then turned into anxiety and guilt, like a run-away train. You may know EXACTLY what I am talking about. Posing in the mirror in different angles, poking, pulling, pinching, etc. Not a super kind thing to do to yourself, eh? Yuck. Talk about crapping all over yourself. 

Although I don’t SEND “selfies,” you can see that there are many forms of this potentially self-destructive behavior. If you are totally confident and are looking in the mirror 50 times a day and taking selfies of yourself because you think you ROCK and want to share it with the world, well, go on with your bad self. Just don’t be annoying about it and recognize that ultimately, you are seeking attention from others. It’s fine, we’re human. But OWN THAT.  
Chances are, though, that you may be able to relate to the body checking behaviors listed above, in some shape or form. ☺ 

TOOLS! I like to give you tools! So here we go. 

I recently moved into a new house. Everything about it is INCREDIBLE, except one thing. Yes! You got it… there are TONS of huge mirrors. Side Note: Working and exercising in a gym can be triggering at times for some people, so please be kind to yourself while you are movin’ and shakin’! 

Mirrors trigger me, but mirrors are a fact of life and so that is why we pull tools out of our toolbox to continue to be the strongest versions of ourselves. Right?

This is what I do to my mirrors. Yes, I live alone. But I have guests over, frequently, and they sure do use my bathroom. I used to scramble to take my "tools” down before my company showed up, but the past few times I have forgotten. To my surprise, everyone that has seen my signs has told me that they felt empowered by them (which made the scarlet in my cheeks and nausea, disappear). So now, I leave them up. We all have things we are working on. And to be honest, I am getting to the point (and I can’t believe I can actually say this), where I really don’t care what anyone thinks?! Don't get me wrong, I am constantly striving to be a better person and I appreciate honesty and healthful opinions of my loved ones, but I'M ME. 

My new mantra: OWN IT. OWN EVERYTHING. OWN YOUR PAST. OWN YOUR PRESENT. OWN YOUR FUTURE. OWN YOUR ACTIONS. OWN YOUR THOUGHTS.

TOOL TIME:

  • I write funny messages to myself, like this… and then laugh when I catch myself trying to sneak a body-check:

 

 

  • I write NICE messages to myself like this… and then I strive to believe it.  

 

  • I write a list of things about myself that I AM, and I say it out loud to myself EVERY MORNING when I am brushing my teeth, IN FRONT OF THE MIRROR. ☺ And I add onto this list, all of the time. “What you think, you believe.”

 

 

  • If I take a picture of myself for whatever (Ex. Facebook picture), #1, I OWN that I am posting a “selfie” on social media for, well, attention… right? And then, I take a really silly photo of myself to remind myself to keep things LIGHT, FLUID, IMPERMEABLE and LOVING.

Just a few ideas to keep kindness and love coming your way. Try it!
There is NO HARM in saying nice things to yourself. 


Be kind to yourself, YOU ARE IRREPLACEABLE. 


Xo,

Erin Kershaw
Fitness Director, Edge Fitness Center at the Ascutney Mtn. Resort


For more information on Wellness and Mindfulness Coaching, please contact Erin Kershaw at erink@edgevt.com or 802-484-3511.