The Dear Mark Project Podcast with Maria

Maria, the host of The Dear Mark Project Podcast, invited me on to talk about how social media can negatively impact our body image. Most importantly, I talk about how you can improve your relationship with it.

I’m a professional mental health counselor, specializing in treating anxiety, trauma, and eating disorders, so body image is a topic that frequently comes up. I help people set and work on a variety of goals, we take approaches that address both mental and physical health.


Listen to the episode here

Listen here.


Interview questions and my show notes

When you say body image, what exactly do you mean by this?

Body image is a person’s perception of their physical self, and the thoughts and feelings, positive, negative, or both.

There are four aspects of body image:

  1. The way that you see yourself (perceptual).
  2. The way you feel about the way you look (affective).
  3. Thoughts and beliefs you have about your body (cognitive).
  4. Things that you do in relation to the way you look (behavioral).

How does having a negative body image affect our mental health?

An unhealthy body image will negatively impact our mental health. When we don’t feel good about ourselves, we will do things like avoid social gatherings in fear that the people we spend time with will bring up something about our bodies that we feel like stands out, creating anxiety and embarrassment. If we’re focused on an insecurity, then we think that others will focus on it, as well.

We can develop an eating disorder due to a poor body image, or start dieting. Both disordered eating and dieting can cause malnourishment, effecting our brains and cognitive functioning. Eating disorders have several severe consequences, they must be taken seriously.

The narrative or story that we tell ourselves about our bodies can mentally lift us up or drag us down. What ever you repeat to yourself can manifest itself into seeming like it’s reality. Our thoughts are not always reality.

How does social media impact body image?

Social media can negatively impact body image dur to people posting only the “highs” of their life, not documenting their struggles.

Filters and touching up photos, creating a perception of an “ideal body” or a “perfect body,” which isn’t achievable. This feeds back into the things I said earlier about the thoughts and emotions that we have about our bodies. It is harmful.

What are some ways to work on body image?

  1. Work with a licensed professional counselor who specializes in body image and or eating disorders.
  2. Practice gratitude. You can find body gratitude meditations online.
  3. Journal about your thoughts and emotions. Take what is negative and flip the script to focus on what is unique, what your body does for you, your strengths, things you like about yourself, and things that others like about you.
  4. A mirror work activity can also be done. I recommend doing this activity with a professional counselor.
  5. Affirmations.

What positive changes will we see in our lives when we work on our body image?

By doing these things, depending on how much work you need to do on your body image, maybe regularly, will promote healthier body image. It can increase self-esteem and confidence. Your self-care becomes increased, with causes a ripple effect of other benefits. Self-love improves. Gratitude increases. Overall mental wellbeing…

What tips or advice do you have for navigating social media while we are trying to love ourselves and our bodies?

Take note on how social media impact you and unfollow accounts that are harmful and unhelpful. Follow accounts that promote healthy body image. Be authentic yourself. Follow authentic, uplifting people. Use social media for good.


To get to know Maria and her mission some more, I did a mini interview, and I’m happy to get to share her story!

About The Dear Mark Project, your mission, and how it got started

With social media, there is a lot of good and a lot of bad. The Dear Mark Project seeks to create a more transparent and empowering social media. We believe we can do this by getting Mark Zuckerburg and his team to automatically attach a “#filteredimage” tag to any post that uses one of the IG filters. Seeing images that are edited with filters, but aren’t honest about using these filters, has been proven to negatively impact mental health, confidence, and self-worth.

This is especially the case in adolescents, teens, and young adults. Peter Bray (owner of Bray and Co) came to me with this idea. Growing up, social media was this huge new beast that absolutely had a negative effect on my mental health. I figured if I had issues, others did too. So, I was more than thrilled to help with this project. I started the podcast as a means to get out this word and mission to the public. 

Your story about how you got started podcasting

After graduating college in 2020, I started working as the Head of Marketing and Content at a company called American Negotiation Institute. My boss and mentor at the time, Kwame Christian Esq. M.A., introduced me to podcasting by having me produce his podcast: Negotiate Anything. From being involved with that, I absolutely fell in love with podcasting and knew that I wanted to be a host too. It’s such a fun way to connect with community, share ideas, meet new interesting people, and help some people along the way. 

Something interesting, fun, or whatever you’d like people to know about you

I own a marketing and business consulting business (Fox & Fern Creative Solutions) where I help a diverse set of clients (Tattoo artists and Tattoo Parlors, Non-Profits, Gyms, Accounting Firms, and more) with implementing unique strategies that increase their brand awareness, traffic, and conversions. I am also a seasoned powerlifter and am currently working towards getting my Personal Training, Nutrition, Virtual Coaching Certifications.

The Dear Mark Project website and social media links

Podcast and website

Instagram


More about body image and athlete identity

CHAT ABOUT RUNNER’S BODY IMAGE AND POSITIVITY

TO ALL THE ACTIVE AND RUNNER MOMS WHO EXPERIENCE “MOM GUILT”

THE ULTRAMARATHON MINDSET PODCAST

YOU ARE MORE THAN AN ATHLETE: WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE INJURED OR ANOTHER LONG-TERM COMMITMENT TAKES PRIORITY?

SELF-CARE ASSESSMENT FOR ATHLETES


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