National Eating Disorders Association

6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Sharing a Social Media Post

Sheila Allenbach

It’s a social media phenomenon. It’s in our faces every day. But for those of us with body image struggles, does it help or hinder? “Love your body!” So cries social media, preaching a shiny gospel of body positivity to all of us. At first glance, this seems a welcome oasis amid the onslaught of shaming advertisements and fitness and diet posts.

The “body-posi” movement can be beneficial in so many ways, but we need to have a bigger conversation about it—which aspects of the movement are actually beneficial, and which parts can, themselves, be triggering and harmful? 

For me, the most body-positive, affirming posts, quotes and images are not directly tied to a body, but to a state of being, affirming my worthiness or my ability to become.  

Personal stories, even those that describe recovery, can be particularly dangerous to share on social media; we each experience recovery in such different and complex ways. We all have different stories behind our struggles with the way we view our bodies. The real body-positive posts are ones that allow us to completely and with our whole heart affirm and respect others’ stories, no matter how different they are from our own.

It’s not an easy thing to gauge, but what safeguards can we put on our messages to ensure that they affirm people of all body types, with all struggles, and at any point in the recovery process, without inadvertently promoting triggering or unhealthy messaging?

Here are six questions you can ask yourself before making a “body-posi” post on social media:

1. Does this contain triggering elements such as numbers, descriptions of body extremes or particular un-liked body elements?

2. Does this contain story aspects that are easily compared to someone else?

3. Does this shame very large or very small people?

4. Does this specifically affirm all who struggle with body image issues?

5. Is this only about my own story?

6. Will this benefit all those who read or see it?

“Love your body!” is an easy thing to say, but for most of us, it’s not such an easy task. It’s a process, a daily choice to step forward and to pick yourself up when recovery didn’t go as planned. It’s choosing to listen to the words of the one you love, and not to the voices in your head. It’s a journey toward believing in the complete human you already are.  

Simple phrases on a pin board or timeline don’t fix years of hurt and shame. They must be backed up with real-life care and concern, a desire to understand and not just to place Band-Aids over deep wounds.  

Each of us is different, and for each of us, the best body-positive posts will be different—but whether it’s affirming what you look like right now or reminding yourself that you are worthy and capable of continuing the struggle, there is merit, when used correctly.  

Sheila is a fourth year nursing student with a passion for music, nature and new life. Her dream is to become a midwife specializing in women with mental health and trauma histories.