As Australians emerge from COVID-19 lockdowns, Butterfly Foundation, the national charity for eating disorders and body image issues, is issuing a plea to consider disordered eating and body image issues when posting memes, jokes and commentary around weight gain, needing to lose weight, or extreme dieting.
“It’s easy to bemoan the impact of lockdown,” said Butterfly Foundation’s National Manager of Prevention Services, Danni Rowlands in a media statement. “And while we know that many of these posts are in jest, what people may not be aware of is that these posts could be inadvertently triggering for the more than one million Aussies living with an eating disorder.”
Of these one million Australians, over 380,000 were estimated to be men according to the Foundation in a pre-pandemic study, although actual figures are likely to be much higher due to the stigma attached to reporting and seeking assistance for disorders.
“We’re saying think before you post – and be kind to yourself.”
“After being confined to our houses for months on end, it’s normal to feel anxious about returning to a pre-lockdown life. It’s important we are kind to ourselves and our bodies during this time.”
“Negative body image conversations, that might position being fat as morally bad, unacceptable or something to avoid can be triggering for people living with, or at risk of an eating disorder.
“We know that people’s worth cannot be defined by appearances; although it can be hard to remember this when we are bombarded by social media content that says the complete opposite.”
As part of its plea to consider disordered eating and avoid publishing triggering content, Butterfly Foundation has developed a series of tips for self-care and support around social media:
Be mindful of the things you post
Share with sensitivity – not everything has to go online and making jokes about others’ appearance or body shape is never okay. Consider that, as we emerge from lockdowns, some people may be more sensitive than others.
If something upsets or triggers you, and you feel like it is unsafe information, you can always report the content. This will then alert the social media platform to investigate, and if it is found to go against their guidelines it will be removed. You can also block content or users, which can take immediate effect in reducing the harmful content you see.
Mute conversations or take breaks from content that is unhelpful
If you find people, even friends, who you follow online are sharing unhelpful and toxic body talk in relation to their lockdown body – mute, unfollow, snooze. By reducing what you see, read, and hear you are protecting your body image and self-esteem.
For more information on how to support Australians living with eating disorders as we emerge from lockdowns, visit the ‘Where do I start?’ page on the Butterfly Foundation website, or contact our Helpline on 1800 ED HOPE (1800 33 4673).