Social media filters and how they are working against body positivity and self-esteem.

Are social media filters affecting your self-esteem?

Are social media filters affecting your self-esteem?

By Kristy Gargano, LSW, CYT

Have you ever been on Snapchat, or another social media platform, and started using beautifying filters and all of a sudden you accidentally click out of it and see how your face actually looks? Maybe you frantically try to get the filter back, or maybe you’re thinking “Yikes, what’s going on with my face?”. Has that ever happened to you? Yeah... me neither. Actually, if I’m honest with all of you, this has happened to me. It’s like when you go to take a picture and your rear facing camera is on and the screen displays THE WORST angle of your face. You have the image now? So do I, and it actually makes me laugh. I digress. 

 As innocent and fun as these filters may seem, they are sending a message that we are more attractive when the amazingly unique features given to us at birth are modified. Having a smaller nose, bigger lips and eyes, smoother skin are the crux of many snap chat filters that have now spread to other social media platforms (Facebook and Instagram). As if there wasn’t enough for us to worry about on the internet, we now have these filters *telling us*, “You look alright, but let me completely reconfigure your face so it looks more aesthetically pleasing”. Yep, here we are, trying so damn hard to combat nasty comments from others, work through negative self-talk, and compete with the media’s expectations of beauty, and now THIS?!? How will we ever win?

 Take this mini quiz to find out if social media filters are impacting your self-esteem and body image negatively.

1.     Do I mostly post photos of myself with filters on them?

2.     What is my intention behind using this filter? Is it because I’m not feeling “good enough”, “pretty enough”, or am I uncomfortable in some way about how I look naturally?

3.     Does using this filter make me feel worse about how I look without the filter? 

4.     Am I hoping or wanting to gain more “likes” or positive comments by posting this filtered image?  

 Answering “Yes” to any or all of these may be an indication that continuous use of filters is impacting you negatively. Ultimately, everything is about finding balance. I am not saying never use face-enhancing filters if you’re feeling down about yourself. I would simply encourage you to come back to the question “What is my intention?”. We have to set limits on things, and watch out for extremes (not going from the extreme of always using filters to the extreme of never using them). We have to create space for self-exploration and creativity on how we build ourselves up. In addition to the explorative questions above, there are ways we can mindfully and creatively build our self-esteem and self-worth. 

3 ways to counteract the potentially negative impact of social media filters.

I love takeaways. If you’ve read any of my other blogs, you will find that I like to provide little tangible “nuggets” to explore, ponder, or incorporate into your life. So, here’s a takeaway. Actually, it’s a challenge for myself and all of you, should you accept it. 

 1.    Find ONE thing about yourself that you like and value and think positive thoughts about that. Do this often. Do this every day, at least once, no matter how weird or difficult it may seem. Journal about it, put it on sticky notes and place them around your personal living space, or write that amazing affirmation on your mirror in lipstick or special markers for windows/mirrors. 

2.     Practice taking ONE filter-less picture of yourself, and be ok with that. We tend to take several pictures (even selfies, when we are looking right at us), and try to find the perfect angle. Want to know a secret? Perfect isn't a thing.

3.     Pick ONE friend who builds you up in some way, and take time to acknowledge how he/she/they impact your life positively. My newest obsession is sending snail mail, and guess how that started… My friend who supports me and builds me up sends ME cards. When we find people who build us up, we in turn tend to reciprocate in our own way. *Side note: you can pick more than one friend, I just liked the pattern of “ONE”.

 If starting this challenge feels too overwhelming or scary, and for many this may be the case, finding a therapist to safely discuss these struggles is a great place to start. Even if you don’t use filters to modify the way you look, having low self-esteem and/or poor body image can impact how we interact with others, and how we care for ourselves. Sometimes we just need a little extra help and support. 


Does Your Anxiety Make You Procrastinate or Pre-crastinate?

Are you being productive or is it a case of pre-crastination?

Are you being productive or is it a case of pre-crastination?

By Kristy Gargano, LSW

When I was in high school, I was a procrastinator. Sometimes it was so bad that I wouldn’t do assignments at all. At that time I just thought it was “normal” teenage stuff; lack of motivation…blah blah blah. Maybe that was only part of it.

I think my struggle in high school impacted me so much that when I found myself in college a bit later than my peers, the exact opposite happened. I found myself getting assignments, big and small, done as early as possible. Not only that, but I was a perfectionist (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still working on this). Even through grad school in my late 20’s I struggled with not slowing down. I wanted assignments done, because anything left undone for too long had me feeling so uncomfortable that the anxiety would sometimes be unbearable.

While all my procrastinator people out there might see “getting things done quickly” as a good thing, it is still anxiety driven, and can have negative ramifications.

But “What is PRE-crastination” you ask? Pre-crastination was a term that David Rosenbaum, Lanyun Gong, and Cory Adam Potts at Penn State came up when conducting a study on how humans and animals perform tasks. If you do a quick Google search of pre-crastination, you’ll find articles right away, but I’ll let you look more into this on your own. Simply put, procrastination is putting things off and pre-crastination is getting things done very quickly.

Although pre-crastination sounds ideal, it has its pitfalls.

When you get a disgruntled text from a friend or family member, do you respond to it right away?

Responding to someone hastily can lead to more problems by not pausing to think of the outcome. Getting things done too quickly may also lead to putting in more effort than necessary. If left with too much time to complete a school assignment or work project, you might spend more hours working on the task, possibly even finishing it and then going back later to modify an already great outcome.

Whether you are a procrastinator or a pre-crastinator, the goal is to pace yourself with tasks in order to manage anxiety and not get too overwhelmed.

5 practical ways to manage anxiety

(with tasks and projects)

  1. Know your anxiety triggers: First and foremost, know when your anxiety is in the driver seat. Anxiety is intended to protect us, and keep us alert, but when it comes to getting tasks done, anxiety is our nemesis.

  2. Manage anxiety: deep breathing to lower your heart rate, listen to calming music, do a body scan meditation to get that tension in check.

  3. Create a task list: Break big tasks into smaller ones and put a reasonable limit on how much time is spent on each task (procrastinators may put in less time and pre-crastinators more time, so keep this in mind). This will help you pace yourself and act as a reminder that the task will end, especially if it’s something less than enjoyable.

  4. When possible, find a work environment that is relaxed and less distracting: I don’t know about you, but when my house is a mess, so is my brain. I can be realllllly good at the “I should really clean before doing a, b and c”. Finding a space free of clutter, or even leaving the house will help stay focused on the task.

  5. Schedule, schedule, schedule! : If your schedule is a very busy one, this makes getting tasks done a bit easier, at least in my mind, because your time has already been limited for you. With too much down time, it can be easier to put things off until the last minute, OR use all the time in the world to get something done. Again, set a reasonable schedule for your week. You might find yourself more productive than you thought! If you’re a pre-crastinator, schedule time to do something relaxing, because it can be terribly hard to slow down. Perhaps just sit and enjoy some tea or coffee.

If you need the support of a compassionate counselor who knows how to manage anxiety in, call Kristy today at 630-480-0060 x 706 or fill out the “Get In Touch” form on our contact page.