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Toxic trends creating toxic health habits

Social+media+can+push+toxic+and+harmful+standards+towards+its+users+such+as+unpractical+body+standards.+Photo+courtesy+of+Anna+Tarazevich+
Social media can push toxic and harmful standards towards its users such as unpractical body standards. Photo courtesy of Anna Tarazevich

From the moment a hashtag is posted on X, Instagram or any social media platform it will instantly hit millions of devices of those who are most likely to relate with those posts. With a click of a button, sending or posting on social media can instantly affect the people who view it. There is always going to be a type of toxic trend going around with social media, but a trend that has been popular is toxic body standards.  

It can be impossible to escape the dangerous rabbit hole of watching influencers talk about body expectations or even see pictures and comments on X, formally known as Twitter, promoting eating disorders such as anorexia.  

There have been multiple posts under X known as “pro-ana Twitter,” where there are multiple motivational posts towards anorexia including, “An apple a day keeps the fat away (just eat an apple)” or “The pain is necessary, especially the pain of hunger. It assures you that you are strong,” all ending with hashtags like “#proana.”  

According to X, these posts came from a 15-year-old girl. From younger to older generations, this type of conversation has affected the health of many.  

“That’s something like from the public health perspective that we are very scared about, because it is very hard to monitor those hashtags so for example, someone can do a hashtag ‘pro-anorexia’ and they could, if that gets banned, they could do pro-anorexia, but the O is a zero,” said Roberto Sagaribay III, a doctoral student in Psychology. “So, it’s really hard to have policy to monitor that stuff so we are kind of thinking more of a side of kind of easing back on social media and having those healthy boundaries.” 

When there is already a perfect image set in societal norms, it can be seemingly impossible to escape viewing these expectations. This affects the mental health of multiple generations, causing there to be an evident correlation between the rate of teenagers and young adults using social media who have reported their depression to those who do not have social media (from 66 to 13 percent) according to Child Mind Institute.  

Students at UTEP who find themselves struggling with depression and mental health, especially because of these societal norms can contact the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for more information visit [email protected] 

“(With) the studies that we have done on UTEP students is that actually they are reporting about 24 hours a week on social media, which is a lot, it’s like a part time job,” Sagaribay said. “So obviously if you are on social media 24 hours a week something has to give so that’s why we are probably affecting mental health.” 

 “There’s this movement with body neutrality so that means that people are starting to learn that I want to look like this person, but I’m going to train my mind to not act on it in an unhealthy way,” Sagaribay shared. “So, I know that I want to look skinnier, but with body neutrality I know that my body is working for me, I am healthy, and I don’t need to look like that person to be happy.”  

Sources like trainers, coaches and studio owners also help create a warm environment that teaches people how to exercise and keep a healthy body.  

Sagaribay also shared that limiting your social media time on your phone can help with your mental health. Getting enough exercise, communing with people face to face, and getting enough sleep can help create healthy habits that may be needed when suffering from eating disorders and depression.  

The daily use of social media is growing in every generation, there is also a growth in body shaming posts, posts promoting eating disorders and more. Mental health specialists suggest taking breaks from social media to protect one’s mental health. Although it may seem like these societal norms are far from fading away, there are preventative measures to take steps towards improving toxic health habits. Contact the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) center if you are struggling with mental health [email protected] 

Fatima Alvarado is the designer and may be reached at fnalvarado1@miners.utep.edu 

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About the Contributor
Fatima Alvarado
Fatima Alvarado, Designer
Fatima Alvarado is a sophomore at the University of Texas at El Paso, majoring in Communications with a focus in Marketing. She is the layout editor for the Prospector. She plans on pursuing her love in design in journalism and hopes to continue to learn more about working in the field of journalism.
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