Fashion

Felicity Hayward shares a simple technique to quit social media comparison (and work out what you really want from life)

Have you ever found yourself scrolling Instagram, or clicking through someone’s travel TikTok videos, and judging your life unfavourably as a result? While social media isn’t all bad, of course – and can be a great resource for everything from light relief and making friends to impactful, global campaigns – social media comparison is without a doubt one of the biggest, modern-day sources of life dissatisfaction. And body positivity campaigner and plus-size model Felicity Hayward, author of ‘Does My Butt Look Big In This’, is calling out social media comparison in her new book. 

Not only this, but she’s also created a specific, 5-step vision boarding exercise to help you work out what you really want – note the operative word of you, not your favourite influencers – from your career, relationships, travel and home life. 

Social media comparison

Social media is a whole other ball game when it comes to comparison culture. The reality is that the majority of things we see online have been altered.

In Norway a law has just passed decreeing that any person posting sponsored content must not post any modified photos without declaring what they have had done. This doesn’t affect normal photographs being edited, just ones that are paid partnerships. The people who have these paid contracts are the likes of models, influencers, actors and musicians – in other words, the people who are popular and admired, with high follower counts. Now if there is a tag openly showing that all these really aspirational and unattainable photos have been altered, I think it would help to counteract people’s negative body image issues. Sometimes people are so absorbed in other people’s fantasies, they need to be labelled to be clear that they are not real. It is an illusion. I personally think this is brilliant and I hope other countries, including the UK and US, catch on. After all, if you were to add extra additives to a food product to make it sweeter, you would have to label this information on the packaging when you are selling it, otherwise it is false advertising and could be harmful to the consumer. This is essentially what this new law in Norway is ensuring and I think it is a step in the right direction to reduce body pressures and the detrimental impact they have on people.

It’s ultimately about being transparent in what you have edited or manipulated, which I think is important when you are in a position of influence and you are selling things to your audience. In fact, I’d go further: in my opinion, selling a beauty product but using editing apps that change your face and appearance, is tantamount to body image fraud.

How to harness comparison for good: vision boards

One thing that personally helps me dig deeper into who I am, what I want and how I would like to grow is creating something known as ‘vision boards’. These are basically scrapbooks of thoughts, feelings, inspirations and images that make you feel good and will help you align with your future aspirations. The only comparison you have here is with the person you are now and the person you want to become.