Is social media normalising being unhealthily overweight?

Is social media normalising being unhealthily overweight?

Everyone has a love-hate relationship with social media; why?

Pros:

  • Easy way to keep in touch with friends
  • Easy access to current affairs
  • Enables us to educate ourselves

The list goes on. There are endless reasons why we love social media; the extent to which can be seen in cities like Augsburg, Germany where pedestrian crossings signs have been put on the ground; because we spend most of our time with our heads down, engrossed in our phones. 

Cons:

  • Depression
  • Cyberbullying
  • FOMO (Fear of missing out)
  • Negative body image
  • Unrealistic perceptions of other people’s lives

Social media also has its pros and cons on the subject of body image. It can be a source of ‘fitspiration’ to people striving to lead healthier lives. Aroosha Nekonam battled with anorexia for years and claimed social media helped her in the midst of her eating disorder. https://www.healthline.com/health/social-media-choices#inspiration-vs.-expectation 

female bodybuilders’ Instagram and Youtube accounts provided something to aspire to

This is, on the other hand, is one of social media’s biggest downfalls; and dangers! Constantly flicking through Instagram, seeing models with perfect physiques on regular holidays; wearing expensive clothes, and driving expensive cars. This can have a profound impact on someone’s mental health; especially when they start comparing their lives to what they see on Instagram.


The question I pose is: are the various body positivity campaigns such as the 2012 #FatKini, or #LoseHateNotWeight encouraging us to be more physically unhealthy? In a time where positive mental health is so important, could we be losing sight of how necessary good physical health is to compensate?

losehatenotweight

For years, the ideology that you have to be a size 4 to be regarded beautiful was all that we knew. In an age of mental health being so prevalent, businesses and individuals with a platform have tried to combat this mentality, which in my opinion is a huge positive and step forward. It is completely unrealistic to assume that all women should be a certain size as we come naturally in different shapes and sizes.


Dr. Stephanie Buttermore, a Ph.D. academic turned fitness model from Canada, is going “all in” in an attempt to prove that people’s bodies have a natural ‘set point’. Buttermore describes going ‘all in’ as eating until your hunger is completely satiable. Stephanie expects that by the end of the process her body will return to a size where it is genetically supposed to be.

Stephanie Buttermore

She delves into the process on her YouTube channel, self-titled, Stephanie Buttermore https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DotlyWhBhak


Returning the focus to social media body positivity campaigns: I fully understand the main point of these; to be happy in your skin. As we are trying to push away from the thinking that you have to be ‘skinny’ to be viewed attractive. For example, Dove’sReal Beauty’ campaign, showing a diverse range of models; one that I thought displayed the message of body positivity in a healthy way.

dove

Another company that I feel tried to jump on the bandwagon with this, and in my opinion, failed was Gillette. Gillette’s April 2019 Twitter advert featured a plus-size model, Anna O’Brien.

Gillette

This campaign faced major backlash stating that the model shown is not healthy, and listing health problems that arise from being obese.

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Companies like Dove are positively combating the mentality that being dramatically underweight is not healthy, however, they are not using models at the other end of the spectrum to show this – surely this would be contradicting anyway?


We cannot deny the implications that come with being overweight: In England, obesity rates have increased from 16.4% in 1993 to 26.8% in 2015 in women (with similar statistics in men) costing the NHS £6.1 billion between 2014-2015 alone. Obesity is a trend that is on the rise and these figures are only going to vastly increase.

Now let’s look at the actual health risks associated with obesity:

  • 3 times more likely to develop colon cancer
  • 2.5 times more likely to develop high blood pressure (higher risk of heart disease)
  • 5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes

Obviously, obesity blame is not solely on campaigns like Gillette but isn’t helped by businesses on social media trying to normalise it to appear more inclusive with the sole purpose of generating more sales; disregarding the physical health risks that are brought with it.

I appreciate that businesses using these campaigns have an aim to make women feel more confident in their skin; although I think that we need to be more conscious of how this can be perceived. Many people may look at these campaigns and think that being physically healthy is not a priority so long as you’re happy, which to an extent may be true. Looking at social media for a perfect figure is unhealthy as often these figures are naturally unattainable. Pictures have been airbrushed and models have had surgery but it can be a great source of information and motivation to get on the right track.

My point is that we cannot neglect our physical health in the hope that we will feel more mentally healthy, instead, we need to work on getting to a place where our bodies and minds are both happy and with a healthy diet and regular exercise this can be achieved.

 

Orlaigh Doherty is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/orlaigh-doherty-7351a7139/ 

Suite dreams are made of this

Public relations is a profound interest of mine and there are plentiful reasons why this area of expertise elevates me, particularly the communication aspect, as well as being exposed to so many interesting individuals. I am going to share my story with you, career choices and life experiences that have led me to believe that public relations is the ingredient that brings my ideas to a reality.

Anyway here’s my story (so far)…

The moment I realized that a career in public relations was for me was in 2014 when I took a year out from education; as I was unsure about which degree to pursue. I began working as a receptionist in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa. The reason I decided to pursue a job as a hotel receptionist was with the intention of evolving my existing skill set and qualities as well as my interpersonal communication skills. With no prior experience in this field of work; I was dependent on landing the position solely on my interview and given the opportunity of expressing my ‘inner brand’. The interview was very formal and intimidating, however it was my time to shine and showcase what made me an eligible candidate for the position. The interviewers must have seen past my nerves as I was surprisingly successful and got offered a full-time position!

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The job opened me up to the public as I was the primary point of contact with the guests, meaning I was responsible for their first impressions as well as leaving the lasting impression as they departed from the hotel. At first the reception department was extremely daunting, It took me roughly three months to feel confident behind the desk, at this point my passion for public relations began to grow. I had soon become acquainted with the regular guests and catering to their needs became my second nature. I took pride in ensuring their stay was enjoyable and It wasn’t long before I started noticing my name frequently mentioned in trip advisor reviews, highlighting my ‘professionalism’ and being regarded as a ‘fantastic ambassador’ for the hotel. The recognition, gratitude and positive feedback was very fulfilling, and this was when I discovered that this was my major – representing companies whilst working alongside the stakeholders.

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Having proved my charisma, expressed my effective communication skills and established customer rapport in the business I decided it was time to enroll into university. I applied for my degree in ‘communication management and public relations’ whilst continuing to work for the organization. However, as my degree required me to move to Belfast, the company transferred me to their sister hotel – the world-famous Europa.

This environment was completely unknown to me as the hotel is twice the size of the Slieve Donard and I underestimated how demanding the job was and how busy I would be kept. This hotel is in such high demand and attracts numerous celebrities, who always must always be accommodated with VIP treatment. Over the 2 years I worked for the Europa I have checked in numerous celebrities including;  Van Morrison, Conor McGregor, Lee Evans, Jimmy Page and the entire cast of Game of Thrones. The public relations profession operates in a celebrity-driven world, and the very first celebrity I checked in whilst working in the Europa was Conor McGregor, and I can remember it like yesterday. I had only been working on the front desk for 2 weeks and can still remember the overwhelming, starstruck feeling that I got. I cant express it but every single guest that checked into the hotel, I had an overwhelming desire to go out of my way to make their stay great, whether it be a couple checking in for a little getaway for the weekend, simply upgrading their room and seeing the smiles on their faces made it worthwhile. Or having Game of Thrones stars phone down to the desk and request a wake up call at 4am to go filming, and ask to speak to me personally for knowing their room service order like the back of my hand. All these little things are what made my job wonderful.

 

Working in the Europa introduced me to so many amazing people and friends for life and even opened doors to new potential career opportunities. For example: One particular day I was checking out a lady and got chatting to her, she asked me an unexpected and extremely surprising question: “You have an amazing bone structure. Have you ever considered modelling?” I was evidently stunned by her question as I looked eagerly at my colleagues for an appropriate response to this bizarre enquiry. “No?” I replied as she handed me her business card shook my hand and invited me to attend an interview at her business ‘Alison Campbell Academy.’ I unknowingly just checked out the CEO of ‘ACA Models’ and had just been scouted as a model!

I was unsure how to feel about this proposition as the possibility of embarking on a career in modelling had never ever crossed my mind, but my colleagues were adamant that I attend the interview anyway, and I even managed to get signed onto their books. I have been placed onto various modelling jobs in which I have represented a specific brand for a certain advertising/catwalk events. Examples of brands that I have worked for include: Miss Northern Ireland, Danske Bank, Down Royal Race Course, Victoria Square and many more. It was very exciting to work as the spokesperson for established companies and represent their brand. I am frequently commended for my outgoing personality and charismatic nature working these jobs; I personally believe that my communication skills and devoted nature is what enabled my public relations abilities to blossom into a reality in the working front of an organization like this.

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Public relations is an ever-evolving industry that brings so much excitement and possibilities to the world. Public relations is deeply embedded into my personality. It is my lifestyle. Every given day is a new inspiration for me to undertake something new that will improve my professional and personal life. In the technologically advanced world we live in, there is an infinite variety of potential connections at our disposal. The  life experiences I have encountered have steered me to the realization that public relations is my bread and butter.

Thank you for reading,

© eline ®ussell

Celine Russell is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn –  https://www.linkedin.com/in/celine-russell-849ba4171/ ; Twitter –  @celine_russ; Facebook –  https://www.facebook.com/celine.russell.7