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My friend told me the other day I need to stop doing things that directly make me feel like crap about myself.
I’d recently binge-watched all of the latest “Bachelor in Paradise,” a spin-off series of “The Bachelor” where all those who didn’t find true love live on an island for a few weeks and couple up. (If you don’t know what “The Bachelor” is, it’s basically a bunch of hot, single women and men vying for the love of one bachelor or bachelorette on TV.)
Don’t get me wrong—it can be great, trashy TV. But too much of a bad thing can easily manifest into what you believe to be truth.
There was a particularly depressing moment in the second last episode of the show, where this guy, Matt, had to choose between giving his rose to Sydney, with whom he’d been having “amazing conversations” with or Bri, who is “well, a supermodel.” Spoiler: he chose Bri. (Who ended up dumping him because she wanted someone to like her for non-superficial reasons!)
Okay, I’m not here to talk about “The Bachelor.” I’m here to talk about the very real issue that comes from the over-consumption of shows like “The Bachelor.”
I know the show is not reality—it’s just that: a show. And I also know that is not what I want my life to be and those are not the people I want to surround myself with. But still, the more we see these kinds of ideals being perpetuated, the more we start to believe that is what’s valued and desired.
I’ve gotten into the bad habit of stalking social media influencers and fitness models on Instagram before bed, consuming even more information that continues to confirm these distorted beliefs. (The belief that says: if you look like this and have these things, you will achieve love, belonging, happiness, acceptance.)
And then I start to spiral. I start to think no matter how hard I try, I will never look like that.
I wonder, is the reality that these women, in these shows, on Instagram, are what’s really most desirable? How could anyone love me as I am? What do I have to offer? And if this is the society we live in, what’s the point of any of this? I keep trying and trying to find purpose and meaning and I end up feeling more lost and confused.
Spiral. Dark hole. Self-hatred.
I called a friend to tell her what I was experiencing. Right away, she interrupted me and said, “You need to just stop. Stop consuming things that straight-up make you feel awful about yourself. You’re doing it to yourself.”
And she was right.
I always say it’s not our fault we feel what we do about ourselves but also, we have to take responsibility for the kind of media we consume.
We need to think of media as a “diet,” and we need to ensure we’re putting healthy, whole messages into our minds—but at the same time, it’s okay to eat an entire tub of ice cream in one sitting. It’s about balance.
It’s okay to binge-watch TV but watch something with diversity, with complicated and interesting characters. Or watch a documentary that makes you think about world issues. Sure, go on Instagram at 2 a.m., but fill your tired eyes with activist accounts or cool art.
This stuff affects us. A lot. And we need to be careful about what we consume.
On my day off this week, I turned on Netflix and watched Hasan Minhaj’s series, “Patriot Act.” It’s awesome because it’s informative and hilarious at the same time. For 20 minutes he takes you out of your own head and into real-world issues that matter.
I love any kind of comedy for this. It’s an escape that allows you to make light of the things that often feel heavy. And it makes you think. About real, human experiences—not just some superficial love triangle based on how good someone looks in a bikini.
I posted about this on social media, hoping to see if others related and felt the same, and someone commented: “I feel you. If we lived closer, I’d invite you out for a hike or some live music with a picnic or a play. Things that fill us up without the heavy residue.”
And this is what saves us. Art. Music. Humour. Doing things outside of ourselves and that connect us to other people.
We need to do more of what lights a fire in our soul and do less of what knowingly brings us down. We need to take responsibility for our well-being and be so selective of the kinds of messages and people we allow into our mental space.
This is self-care. This is an antidote to the cycle of self-hatred.
Bonus: Watch Hasan Minhaj’s episode on “The Two Sides of Canada:”