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Increase diversity in your social media feed

Eating disorders are highly complex conditions stemming from a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors. But there's no doubt that social media can have an outsized influence on body image, self-esteem, and a number of other contributing factors.

The good news is it's relatively easy to curate social media platforms to receive more positive messages and images.

If you're struggling with body image, self-perception, and self-esteem or find yourself thinking about or using disordered eating behaviors as a result of these feelings, curating your social media to be more diverse and inclusive may help.

 minute read
Last updated on 
June 11, 2024
June 11, 2024
illustration of a group of people in a circle
In this article
illustration of a group of diverse people

How does social media affect cultural diversity?

Social media is designed to keep you engaged, so it tends to show you images and messages it thinks you might "like." But this can leave different cultural identities, cultural norms, and marginalized communities out of your feed and help contribute to certain unhelpful messages being repeated over and over again.

Creating echo chambers

The algorithms that dictate what we see on our feeds were designed to "anticipate" the type of content we want to see, so they scour our internet histories, among other data, looking for patterns. Yet, the content they present us with starts contributing to its own pattern.5

Once the algorithm "catches on" to a page, topic, or influencer it thinks we might like, we're presented with more of that type of content. So, as the algorithm continues looking for patterns, it sees content from a more narrow range of topics. These spirals are called "echo chambers," and they're considered a primary factor behind the polarization and extreme views that have risen in the age of social media.5

They can also lead your digital landscape to be very homogenous or full of images and messages that all look the same and come from the same kind of people or accounts.

Promoting biases

Fostering cultural exchange is imperative to learning, helping us raise awareness of others and promote critical thinking.6 But algorithms on platforms like TikTok have been shown to limit what we see from different cultures.

That's partly due to their algorithm system called "collaborative filtering." The concept helps curate your feed by showing you what people who "like" the same things as you also like. But the idea can also filter out what people who like the same things as you don't like, which can create a ripple effect of bias.7

Some researchers have called out the system for promoting racial bias and reducing the chance for cross-cultural understanding and the proper compensation for content creators of color or those otherwise representing minority groups.7

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Social media and eating disorders

Social media can also greatly impact personal thoughts, behaviors, habits, and societal expectations. That also goes for the types of behaviors and unhelpful thoughts that drive eating disorders.

Social media as we know it is still relatively new, but it's already long been associated with:2

The opposite effect has also been shown, with one study finding that college students who limited their social media use to 10 minutes per app—including Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram—reported lower rates of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and fear of missing out.3 

How more diverse social media feeds can help

Reducing or eliminating your presence on social media isn’t always realistic. But you can directly impact how your social feeds affect you by changing how you interact with these apps.

When it comes to body image, the lack of diverse cultural elements in social media feeds may be a particular issue. One study showed women who comment on a post of a woman they perceive as attractive are more likely to experience poor body image than women who interact with a family member’s post.1

This is likely tied to social comparison. So, if someone's feed is primarily made up of images of attractive, slender women—or devoid of women of different body weights, shapes, and sizes—this could contribute to the problem.

But you can begin to change the types of accounts you follow. Research indicates that this can prove helpful in many ways. For example, one study found that women exposed to body-positive accounts and posts experienced improved mood, body appreciation, and body satisfaction compared to those exposed to thin-ideal posts.4

Amplifying diverse voices in your feed can give you a more well-rounded and realistic picture of what's out there and help you avoid dangerous echo chambers or feeds created around collective bias.

How to diversify your social media platforms

To fundamentally change your social media experience, start by unfollowing the users you find yourself comparing yourself to most. This can help ease the pressure on yourself to look or live a certain way.

It's also important to root out any accounts that perpetuate harmful ideas about attractiveness, weight, and body type. This can be more difficult to spot, as many accounts that say they're about "wellness" are still perpetuating ideas about toxic diet culture. Be thorough and careful about which accounts you choose to keep following.

Once you've cleared out your followers, you can begin repopulating your feed with new accounts that feature different types of cultural identity and look for virtual communities that celebrate body weight and shape diversity. This can expose you to the ideals of your own culture and those of many others, giving you a more global concept of beauty and acceptance.

Changing your social media feed may be overwhelming, so it might be helpful to take this process one step at a time.

Follow body-positive and body-neutrality accounts 

This is by no means a comprehensive list of social media accounts that celebrate body positivity or body neutrality, but it is a list to get you started. These Instagram accounts celebrate body diversity and are free of body shaming or fat shaming:

  • @thefatsextherapist
  • @fatgirlflow
  • @fatwomenofcolor
  • @shesallfatpod
  • @fatgirlshiking
  • @fierce.fatty
  • @thebodypositive
  • @iamdaniadriana
  • @danielle.bex 
  • @bigboysarecute
  • @300poundsandrunning
  • @zachmiko
  • @bear_skn
  • @thebodyisnotanapology

Follow anti-racist, pro-queer, and trans accounts

Although following pro-fat social media accounts is a start, it’s not the end all be all. Body diversity involves more than just weight and size—it also involves racial diversity and people of all genders and sexualities.

Some of these Instagram accounts are educational and can help you learn how to be anti-racist and acknowledge your privilege, while others are those celebrating their identities: 

  • @ardtakeaction
  • @antiracisteducation
  • @decolonizemyself
  • @reparationsfund
  • @indigenousrising
  • @magthehistorian
  • @nowhitesaviors
  • @herreraimages
  • @thegreatblacknarrative
  • @pinkmantaray
  • @matthew.blaise
  • @theconsciouskid
  • @ckyourprivilege
  • @transmascstudies
  • @trans_queens
  • @ihartericka
  • @iamivyfelicia
  • @mynameisjessamyn
  • @melissadtoler
  • @sassy_latte
  • @alokvmenon
  • @nonnormativebodyclub
  • @nalgonapositivitypride

Follow disability activists on social media

Body diversity also involves people of different abilities. Ableism is rampant in our society, and following disability activists and those who celebrate who they are can help prepare you to combat ableism—both in yourself and in others. Here are some Instagram accounts to follow:

  • @aaron__philip
  • @mollyburkeofficial
  • @powerfullyisa
  • @theheumannperspective
  • @crutches_and_spice
  • @habengirma
  • @lucyedwardsofficial
  • @disabilityreframed
  • @chloeshayden
  • @erinnovakowski
  • @disabled_fashion
  • @annieelainey
  • @disabled_eliza
  • @thedisabledhippie

Teach the TikTok algorithm what you want to see

On TikTok, you can choose to follow diverse accounts and pages, but curating your For You page (FYP) will take some work and discipline on your part. This is because TikTok’s algorithm gives you videos they think you will like based on many factors, such as:

  • Pages you follow
  • Your comments
  • Videos you’ve shared or liked
  • Videos you’ve favorited
  • Videos you’ve watched to the end
  • Your own content
  • Content you’ve reported or marked as “not interested”

The more you use the app, the more TikTok will learn what you want to see based on your interactions and behaviors. If you begin to look up hashtags like body positivity, body neutrality, body positive plus size, tips for body neutrality, diet culture is toxic, health at every size, body diversity, body acceptance, and fat acceptance, TikTok will begin to give you more videos related to these hashtags. 

However, every once in a while, it may slip in pro-diet culture videos or harmful fitness or fatphobic content. If you watch to the end, you may get more of these videos, so swipe as soon as possible and mark “not interested” when these videos do arise.

By staying vigilant, you can protect your mental health and reduce the impact of weight stigma, healthism, diet culture, and more.

Disclaimer about "overeating": Within Health hesitatingly uses the word "overeating" because it is the term currently associated with this condition in society, however, we believe it inherently overlooks the various psychological aspects of this condition which are often interconnected with internalized diet culture, and a restrictive mindset about food. For the remainder of this piece, we will therefore be putting "overeating" in quotations to recognize that the diagnosis itself pathologizes behavior that is potentially hardwired and adaptive to a restrictive mindset.

Disclaimer about weight loss drugs: Within does not endorse the use of any weight loss drug or behavior and seeks to provide education on the insidious nature of diet culture. We understand the complex nature of disordered eating and eating disorders and strongly encourage anyone engaging in these behaviors to reach out for help as soon as possible. No statement should be taken as healthcare advice. All healthcare decisions should be made with your individual healthcare provider.


  1. Hogue, J. V., & Mills, J. S. (2019). The effects of active social media engagement with peers on body image in Young Women. Body Image, 28, 1–5. 
  2. Turner, P. G., & Lefevre, C. E. (2017). Instagram use is linked to increased symptoms of orthorexia nervosa. Eating and weight disorders: EWD, 22(2), 277–284. 
  3. Hunt, M. G., Marx, R., Lipson, C., & Young, J. (2018). No more Fomo: Limiting social media decreases loneliness and depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 37(10), 751–768. 
  4. Cohen, R., Fardouly, J., Newton-John, T., & Slater, A. (2019). #BoPo on Instagram: An experimental investigation of the effects of viewing body positive content on young women’s mood and Body Image. New Media $ Society, 21(7), 1546–1564. 
  5. Zadrozny, B. (2023, July 27). Facebook opened its doors to researchers. What they found paints a complicated picture of social media and echo chambers. NBC News. Accessed February 2024.
  6. Brady, W. (2023, August 25). Social Media Algorithms Warp How People Learn from Each Other. Scientific American. Accessed February 2024.
  7. Kung, J. (2022, February 14). What internet outrage reveals about race and TikTok's algorithm. NPR. Accessed February 2024.


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