Social Media Should Come with a Warning Label

Teagan Hoyt, Staff Writer

Social media is a platform where you can show the best parts of yourself. Where you can disconnect from your real life and live in this fake realm of the “perfect” life you’ve created. Many have said that social media is toxic because you only show what you want. Meaning the best parts of your life. No one sees your bad situations or moments. 

Before I didn’t understand how social media could affect anyone so badly. I was so obsessed with the life I created on that platform. It was the only thing to keep me from seeing my true reality. Now I realized it affected me way more than I had realized before.

I hated my life. I hated being a bigger girl. I hated how people would see and treat me. I just wanted friends. I wanted a boyfriend. I wanted anything that would give me attention. So when I found social media, and I saw all the filters; I was amazed. How, if I placed my phone at a certain angle you couldn’t see my double chin, it made me feel so good. I could finally be pretty. I could show what wasn’t true and make people like me.

I started posting pictures of myself. I immediately got so much attention. Guys and girls wanting to be my friends or date me. It felt amazing. For the first time in my life I felt wanted. People wanted to be my friend; They wanted to go out with me and hang out with me. I knew I could never keep it going, they thought I was skinny and pretty when in reality I was actually this overweight, self loathing girl.  

Of course this triggered my eating disorder. I started eating anything I could find. Food was my coping mechanism. It was the only thing that hadn’t betrayed or hurt me. I would eat until I would puke and even after that I would continue to eat. I didn’t realize how bad it was until one night I was watching a tv show called “Insatiable”. If you don’t know the show, this girl who used to be bigger; Lost a bunch of weight and became a beauty queen. In the show, she wouldn’t eat in front of other people a lot but whenever she was nervous or hurt in some way, she would just eat. 

I realized that it’s what I did. I would eat, eat, eat and then feel guilty for not looking pretty after, like she did. I didn’t want to be a big girl. People would say “Do you really need to eat that?” or ”That is so much food, how can you eat all of that?” I just wanted love. So I stopped eating.

I didn’t eat breakfast. I didn’t eat lunch. Mostly because I didn’t want kids at school to see me eating. By the time I got home, I was starving. So again I would eat. No one else was home. No one would know except for me. I could eat all I want and no one would know. People would still think I was the “pretty” girl I showed, even if I wasn’t. They wouldn’t know I was a fat girl who ate everything in sight. They just knew the Teagan I showed.

Again I would take to social media, I would do my makeup to make myself look better in the pictures I would take. I would never take a picture without a filter. I needed to hide my insecurities to make people like me. My acne, my big nose, my double chin, but mostly my body. I was so convinced that if I took away the things that made me, me, people would talk to me. They wouldn’t say things like “Do you really need to eat that?” They called me pretty. For the first time in my life, a boy called me pretty. I was amazed.

It became a drug to me. The more validation I got from people, the better I felt. I needed it. I needed it to feel happy. I thought it was the only way I could be happy. Just to have people like me. Just to be called pretty. Told that I was worthy of anything I wanted. I had never been told that before from someone outside of my family.

I was pretending to be this “pretty skinny” girl. Everyone wanted her. No one wanted me. It made me hate myself more. “Why couldn’t I actually be pretty like the girl in these pictures? Why did I have to look like this instead?” 

I had struggled with my mental health for years, though it had never been this bad. I was completely in love with the fake person that I showed. I was only the side of me I wanted everyone to see. Even people I went to school with. During COVID I posted so many pictures of this “pretty me” I was so scared to go back to school, knowing the people I went to school with would see the real me behind the screen. The bigger girl.

Every time I walk into school, I get flooded with emotion and anxiety. I knew everyone was staring at me. The big Teagan, not the one they had seen on social media. Almost everyday I would run to the bathroom and cry. I didn’t want them to see me looking like this. They couldn’t know I was bigger and that I wasn’t who I showed myself out to be.

After school, I would take food up to my room and eat. Sometimes I would cry while I ate. Other times I would just play on  my phone, but I was always eating. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop, since I had a gateway to looking pretty and feeling good about myself. Social media. 

I hated myself. I got tired of only feeling good when I was on my phone. I hated how I looked, how I acted, how I smelled. Everything about myself, I hated. I wanted to destroy this disgusting body I was born in. I was so ashamed of her. She was gross and ugly. I didn’t want to be her anymore. 

I’ve almost attempted suicide 2 times now. Both times I chickened out, which now I am thankful for. I started cutting myself. Most people cut to feel something. I did it to destroy this repulsive body. It didn’t deserve anything. It didn’t deserve water, or to eat food. It didn’t deserve to feel love, or be shown off. People hated it, I hated it.

I was doing the worst I had ever been, health wise. I was over eating at night and hating myself whenever I had the chance to think. All because I wasn’t that pretty girl everyone loved. My friend who is also a bigger girl, would post pictures of her body or her double chin. She was gorgeous. She looked so amazing showing off every part of her and I just couldn’t. Everyone loved her, and I was too ashamed to show them who I really was.

I knew everyone’s opinion of me would change if I showed them who I was behind my phone. I couldn’t ruin my reputation like that. I needed validation to keep me sane. To keep me happy. To keep me from attempting to take my life again. I was struggling and no one knew.

I was failing most of my classes. I had no energy to do any of the work. I was so tired. Physically and emotionally. I was tired of hurting myself, but I was tired of looking the way I did. I spent all day at school just thinking about how stupid and fat i was. I didn’t have time for schoolwork in my head. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I just wanted to leave this body.

One night when I was laying in bed, I realized what was happening in my life. I was failing and it was all my fault. I wanted to change and kill myself all over a stupid app with filters to make me look prettier. I’m not sharing my story just to go along with the “Social media is toxic and ruins girls body image”. It’s for everyone suffering. You are not alone and it’s hard. What you see on social media is fake. Everything they post is just stuff they want you to see. It’s not really them. It’s not their struggles. It’s not the hardship in their life. It’s the “pretty” moments.

I made the decision to delete my social media. I want to love myself for how I am, not for how I see myself in a camera. That’s not me, it’s not the person I should love. Who am I to tell my little siblings they’re beautiful the way they are, yet try to change almost everything about me. I’m learning to love myself, it’s hard but I’m getting through it. I don’t need validation that I’m pretty. I know my worth and I will love me and take care of me. It’s not anyone else’s job but mine. 

I’m sorry to myself for thinking I needed other people to like me. I’m sorry for hating myself and saying all the horrible things I did. I deserved so much better. I deserved love from myself, I deserved to be happy, but not from a destructive platform. I am working on myself, for myself. 

All I want is for this to be a message to everyone out there. You are beautiful and fantastic the way you are. No filter can compare to the beauty of your true self. You don’t need validation from others to make you feel confident. When you love yourself, your validation will be all you need.