Creating a Safe Social Media Space to Maintain a Healthy Body Image

Person concerned with Binge Eating Disorder and Diabetes

Instagram was recently confirmed as having negative effects on young people’s mental health, in a new report distributed by The Royal Society for Public Health [1].

Adolescents who spent time on the app were more susceptible to feelings of depression, isolation, uncertainty, and a small sense of worth, which corresponded to reduced confidence in their bodies and unhealthy sleeping patterns.

The University College London also studied and presented a connection between those who engage in Instagram frequently and the occurrence of the eating disorder orthorexia nervosa [1].

Eating Disorders Triggered by Social Media

I’ll admit, my strong recovery from eating disorders can sometimes be threatened whenever I go onto Instagram to post something positive, and instead come across a bodybuilder, model, or fitness guru talking about their “clean” eating habits.

Woman looking at Social Media

When I left the modeling industry and first began healing, I had to learn how to eat all over again like a baby, starting with juices, fruits and vegetables. I wasn’t too familiar with the term “orthorexia nervosa,” only knowing that I still had many fear foods.

Four years later, I’m able to eat pretty much any type of food, but I feel a tinge of nervousness whenever I see promoters of the “clean lifestyle.” “Clean” can be another term for “eating disorder,” and since Instagram is a place where millions and millions of vulnerable-minded young people flock every day, I can see why the app has garnered a bad reputation.

Reclaiming Social Media as a Safe Space

While it can be difficult to regulate social media, we do have control over what content we post. For instance, instead of dieting, fitness, or food images, why not focus on inner health, family, and self-love?

Let your space be one that people come back to because they want help growing as a person, not because they feel the need to compete with their friends and are seeking diet “cheat tips.” Quite frankly, the world doesn’t have a need for anymore of those, but we are hungry for self-care and role models.

Nikki_Dubose_2015 Web-6About the Author: Nikki DuBose is a former model turned author, advocate, and ambassador. Her debut memoir, Washed Away: From Darkness to Light, details her recovery from trauma, severe mental illnesses and the dark side of the modeling industry.

Nikki has been featured on television shows and networks such as The Doctors, The TD Jakes Show, CBS Los Angeles, and the Oprah Winfrey Network, and profiled in publications such as People, LA Times, Vogue UK, Esquire, India Times, and Inquisitr.

To find out more about Nikki, visit


[1]: Chalmers, V. (May 19, 2017). Is Instagram making you sick? Study explains why photos of breakfast bowls and #fitness inspiration can drive you to an eating disorder. Retrieved from

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on June 8, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 8, 2017
Published on