On September 12, LIM College welcomed model Lizzie Miller as a guest speaker. Her presentation, "Redefining Beauty in This Digital Age," focused on overcoming obstacles that social media can pose in maintaining a positive body image.
Lizzie was introduced by Dr. Heather O’Leary from LIM's Office of Counseling & Accessibility Services, which sponsored the event. Dr. O’Leary shared that Lizzie’s work as a public speaker on body image issues began after she appeared in the September 2009 issue of Glamour, contributing to the trend toward embracing natural bodies in fashion and advertising.
Lizzie’s presentation stressed the importance of mindfully navigating social media. For example, she cautioned against treating popularity—“likes,” “follows,” etc.—as a substitute for happiness. She also encouraged a posting approach that promotes self-honesty, rather than what you assume other people want to see.
Lizzie encouraged students to be thoughtful about the content they post and what they absorb. She looked at the functionality of social platforms, particularly visual ones like Instagram; what used to be seen as a place for authentic user-content is now highly curated (in some cases, even manufactured), either by advertisers or by users trying to project an image. Either way, she advised all users to consider the incentives of a poster before self-applying pressure to have the “perfect Instagram page.”
Lizzie also brought up the link between depression and the rise of social media. She used this as another reason to maintain a healthy perspective: “Social media is comparing your worst day with someone else’s best day. Don’t compare yourself with others; it’s their highlight reel. Social media is a great system for measuring business,” she added. “But it’s horrible for measuring self-worth.”
To close, Lizzie shared what she called the four ingredients for healthy self image—self worth, self care, self love and body image/body neutrality—and how they relate to social media. “Your body is just one part of you. You have so many other cool parts of yourself,” she said. “It's okay if you're not a Kardashian. You can be you.”