Self-Acceptance in a Social Media Influenced World: How to Cope
Just be you, they say. You be you, let me be me, they say. Be yourself. What does it all mean anyway? Why is it so freaking hard to be ourselves today? And even harder to actually love ourselves?
As a psychiatrist and women’s mental health expert, I’ve begun to see the dilemma that we, millennial moms face. Though I don’t think you need an MD to know that what we’re exposed to on the daily is screwing with our minds and literally making us crazy.
It’s no secret that postpartum depression is the number one complication of childbirth and suicide is the number one cause of death in the first year postpartum. When you’re feeling out of sorts and pressured from the world to “just be yourself,” it’s only a matter of time before you sink further into despair. Because, as any self-acceptance advocate can attest, being yourself in this society is really effing hard. It starts online.
Motherhood and Social Media
You see, we millennial moms grew up online. Sharing our lives and connecting with others through our phones has become our comfortable medium. We love the dopamine rush of a like on our baby’s photo and the validation we get when someone comments on our Instagram post. Yet, we as a generation have never felt more alone. Because we have diminished our world to the virtual reality that is found on our phones.
It’s odd then that we also live in the era of self-acceptance where the biggest influencers preach the same resounding message, “You’re good enough.” How can I ever possibly feel good enough when picture-perfect food porn, eye candy fitness model transformation photos, ridiculously curated images of farmhouse-designed lore, and Pottery Barn-inspired nurseries flood our social media feeds? Most moms are just trying to survive the daily temper tantrums, sleepless nights, and never-ending laundry. What we’re expecting from ourselves is to write the next New York Times bestselling book, start the million-dollar side hustle, and look like the cover of a fitness magazine.
Self-Acceptance in a Social Media Age
I know, know. If we truly want to accept ourselves, we intellectually know that we must “detox” our feeds and only like and follow accounts that uplift us. How can we kick our addiction to the picture-perfect scroll? No matter how “bad” the fictional feed makes us feel, we instinctively crave the mental vacation from our daily grind.
Therein lies the dilemma: the mom trying to accept herself in a social media age faces the struggle of a virtual reality akin to The Matrix of motherhood. Should I choose the red pill or the blue pill today? Do I double tap the pretty photo or instead blast a live story showcasing my messy house?
The paradox of society stands that we must be our “most authentic self” to the world, but only share our filtered highlight reel on social media. Because let’s face it, sharing the “real life” doesn’t give us the likes and followers that the social media engineers have manufactured for us.
Imagine if the pressure of self-acceptance was off the table. Go with me. Instead of straddling the growing divide between being real and liking the fantasy, embrace that social media is—and never will be—real life. No matter how transparent our generation is with the world, social media remains a virtual reality.
As much as we strive for authenticity, social engineers will win. It’s only when we acknowledge the matrix of the social media world that we stand a chance at truly feeling “good enough” just as we are. So what will it be? The red pill or the blue pill?
Stefani Reinold, MD, MPH, is a board certified psychiatrist, maternal mental health expert, and founder of Not the Typical Mom, a lifestyle brand dedicated to helping moms escape the stereotypes, find and embrace their real selves so they can kill it in life, love and business. Stefani is the author of the book Let Your Heart Out: How to Escape Your Thoughts and Reconnect with the Most Important Part of Yourself. She has presented nationally and internationally on the topics of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, eating disorders and body dissatisfaction in pregnancy and postpartum. Connect with her at Not the Typical Mom or on Facebook or Instagram.