Pregnant women feel pressured to look good because of social media
Facebook isn’t reality; it’s made up of usually carefully constructed highlights of people’s lives, images that are carefully selected and posted.
Many pregnant mothers have no problem flaunting their swollen bodies on social media.
They do it for different reasons.
Some do it because they want to document their pregnancy journey. Some do it because they want to update family and friends about their pregnancy. Some do it because they are proud of what they have achieved.
Posting such images also helps pregnant women reach out to similar women all over the world, and in a process establishes among themselves a support group.
According to Amy Brown from Swansea University, however, the effect of social media hurts other moms in that it pressures them into looking pregnant.
In fact, increased depression, anxiety and poor life satisfaction have been linked with high levels of Facebook use.
“It’s very easy to see why this is the case: Facebook isn’t reality; it’s made up of usually carefully constructed highlights of people’s lives,” she says in a Mama Mia story.“Posts are all about the latest parties, purchases and happy relationships, and less about sitting home alone on a Friday night in your pyjamas.
“Even if deep down we realise Facebook is a false presentation of the world our peers live in, the risk of making negative self-comparisons is still high.”
This is highlighted in the way with which photos of beautiful photos of pregnant women—celebrities and models particularly—are often praised and put onto a pedestal for looking great even with child.
This in turn causes other pregnant women to compare themselves to such different standards.
“The issue of course is that many of these photos aren’t real. We are viewing images that are carefully selected, posed, filtered or altered in some way. Photoshop is no longer confined to magazines or professional websites, with a simple app, a person can rapidly change their image to become their own ideal.”
Many women already face issues with their body image, and pregnant women especially are not immune to this.
“While pregnancy was once viewed as an excuse to ‘eat for two’—which, incidentally, wasn’t a good thing either—growing numbers of pregnant women are now trying to limit the amount of weight they gain in a bid to get the ‘perfect’ body.”
A photo posted by Candice Swanepoel (@angelcandices) on
In fact, in a study about pregnant women’s perception of body image, a third of the 269 women surveyed “loved” their body and were confident in it, while the rest were concerned about their shape and felt like they were gaining too much weight.
This can lead to a lot of concern for the wellness of both mother and child. Gaining too little weight while pregnant risks low birth weight, premature birth and even miscarriage.
Moms who also suffer from poor body image are less likely to breastfeed.
“Womens’ changing shape during pregnancy and what this represents is something to be treasured,” Amy said. “Forget ‘eating for two,’ the world needs to realise that women are living for two and that the true beauty in this lies in the stretch marks, wobbly bits and swollen ankles—whether that looks ‘good’ on social media or not.”
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