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How does social media affect our body image?

Kaya Purchase on the deceptive and distorting effects of the digital age

“At some point, we must all deal with illness, ageing and the finiteness of life itself. To prepare for this conflict with life’s vicissitudes, we must find meaning and purpose that transcend the acquisition of thinness and beauty.”

Katherine Zerbe, psychoanalyst and author of Body Betrayed

Advertising is invasive. It is so intrinsic in our Western lifestyle that sometimes it’s difficult to actually identify its influence on our decision-making and outlook. If you’ve grown up surrounded by it, it’s as if its messages are hard-wired into the subconscious. And the main message it gives out is ‘perfection’, or rather a striving for perfection – ‘Buy this and you’ll look like this… use these and you’ll lose those extra pounds… drive this car and you’ll get the girl/job/road-trip that makes you feel like you’re living Easy Rider, except with a radio and heated seats.’ Advertising doesn’t so much sell a specific product, it sells the concept of being closer to perfection and the idea that once you reach this evasive state, you will be happier. It taps into our personal insecurities and then dresses itself as the solution. Whereas, we all know, deep down, that true happiness isn’t synonymous to perfection and will never be achieved by the obtainment of goods.

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About Be Kind

Hello, Fashion has always been a strong form of expression for me; I’ve pored over glossy issues of Vogue from a young age, and get a thrill when the seasons change, and with them, the excuse to spend on new and exciting pieces for my wardrobe. With the rise and ease of shopping online it has become easier and quicker to get my hands on the latest styles, and it’s with a mixture of shame and excitement I go and collect my deliveries from the post room at work. But recently I realised the frequency and level of my spending was getting out of control – ‘I can just send it all back’, I’d foolishly reason with myself. It wasn’t until I read about the environmental impact of the fashion industry that I started to think about the part I was playing myself. Those next day deliveries have to be picked, packed and couriered, using man power and fuel. The bargain £5 tops come at a greater price, too – how can workers possibly be getting paid fairly to make them? And the fabrics surely can’t be ethically-sourced either? Fast fashion is alluring and tempting – it’s a quick and easy way to make us feel good, temporarily, but the damage it’s doing to the environment doesn’t sit well with me. So, I’ve vowed to make a change and to choose more sustainable ways to shop. This month we’ve looked into the issues surrounding fashion, from body image to throwaway culture, and found alternative ways for you to enjoy clothes, whilst being kinder to the planet. Have a great month, Phillipa Editor