Social Media and the Painful Fixation on our Looks

Chasing Beauty

I recently listened to a podcast episode called “Chasing Beauty”, by the show, Help Me Be Me. The episode talked about the constant pursuit of beauty in an image-focused environment. Listening to this episode, I was inspired to write about the main take-aways and my experience in ‘chasing beauty’.


Growing up in the digital age of social media has its benefits and drawbacks, but I’d suggest that the most significant downside is the comparison that social media perpetuates. I am a victim of comparison on social media, specifically comparing my looks. I, like probably millions of others, often fall into the mindset of “That person is better looking than me. Why can’t I look like them.” Social media fosters the practiced routine of seeking external perfection, and this mindset deteriorates my self-esteem. In the podcast they made an interesting point, if you’re constantly striving to be perfect, you’re constantly searching for what makes you not perfect. In other words, if you are pervasively fixated on your appearance, you cannot see yourself for what you truly look like because you are blinded by the “imperfections”. The harder you scrutinize, the more distorted something becomes. An example they used in the podcast was when you look at an old photo of yourself and think, “Wow, I was really hot back then!”, but in the moment of taking that photo, you saw yourself as “ugly”. I have done this too many times to recall. It makes me sad that I spent those times hating the way I looked when in hindsight, I looked beautiful. This proves that when you are so fixated on the external, you are incapable of seeing yourself for what you really look like. 


When scrolling through social media, I easily get stuck in loops of negative self-talk, yet it’s hard for me to discipline myself and put the phone down. You’d think if it’s not conducive to my mental health, I would want to stop doing it, right? But social media and comparison are addicting like a drug. It makes me feel empowered— like “if I hate myself enough I can correct and control my beauty.” But this philosophy hasn’t worked out for me. The podcast episode suggests that just like an addiction, stopping thoughts of comparison is a choice. We must choose to let go of the fixation. Easier said than done of course, but catching your brain in the act and telling it not to react is the first step. 


I sympathize with anyone reading this who has ever felt, “not good enough.” I’m working on stepping away from social media when I find myself getting caught up in comparison, and I encourage you to do the same. Be gentle with yourself and your mind.


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