alt=a woman breaks through social media stereotypes of beauty on cellphones.

The Social Media Look on Bloating

We know that social media can be a blessing and a burden. We can find communities with people similar to us, learn new things, and share our own experiences with those who find interest in them through social media. However, it can also show us unattainable "standards," which can damage our self-perception, and misinformation posts, which can confuse and distort reality.

Fitspo or health influencers

Bloating is a common symptom of IBS. Most health/fitspo influencers online show off their bodies that never feel similar to mine. I see flat stomachs, created from working out and eating healthy (or so we're told). Knowing that I can never reach this standard of body image because of my bloating is frustrating.

The general message behind many influencers is that "it's easy" to get to that point with your body through fitness and healthy eating (both of which I already do). It is discouraging to see accounts with many followers encourage and influence anyone and everybody to engage in their lifestyles in order to achieve their results. These sorts of influencers also tend to promote products that won't do anything for someone with IBS but will claim they do (ie. exploiting our illness to sell products).

Health or IBS influencers

I have recently started following an influencer on Instagram, per my friend's suggestion. Her name is Lottie Drynan and she is a British woman who, like us, suffers from IBS. Her entire brand/image/page is presenting herself as she is, with all the rolls, curves, bloating that she has. She talks about her struggles with IBS and bloating openly on her platform.

She posts about bloating-friendly fashion, showing that is okay to be in more loose-fitting clothing rather than trying to hide and shrink your body. She is a wonderful example of a body-positive influencer. One of her posts states: "My stomach isn't perfectly flat because... it literally doesn't matter and I don't need a reason or justification." That is the sort of language I should keep telling myself on my worst bloating days (or any bloating days for that matter).

The more I stress about my bloating and the way my bloating looks, the worse my IBS will get because stress is a trigger for IBS. So, picking up the attitude that Lottie has about her IBS, specifically about her bloating, will help reduce the flare-ups I have.

I hope to see more of these sorts of influencers on social media that don't make me feel ashamed for not achieving the "easy" standards that "health" influencers market.

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