There have always been people that society has looked to for inspiration, whether that be in the form of fashion, health or just general lifestyle. As social media has grown over the past decade, we have seen an influx of “micro-influencers” who are able to connect with their audiences on a more personal level than ever before. The influencer industry was valued at $16.4 billion in 2022.
Micro-influencers have enough of a following to get brand deals and make money online, but with a small enough audience to feel more relatable to their followers. Because of this, more and more people are looking to social media for advice and inspiration on how to be their ideal selves.
While there is nothing wrong with following people you admire on social media and taking inspiration from their lifestyles, it can become unhealthy when people begin to promote lifestyles and routines that are not realistic for most people.
I have seen more and more “ideal morning routine” and “what I eat in a day” videos across social media platforms in the past few years. These videos often suggest that the way to be “healthy” is to wake up at 5 a.m. everyday, do intense workouts, eat next to nothing and ultimately manage to fit more into a couple of hours than most people could fit into their entire day.
For people who already have issues with self-esteem and shame around their daily routines or eating habits, these videos and posts can be incredibly harmful. These influencers are not trying to make people feel bad about themselves; they are simply trying to post things that amass the most views, and these types of “perfect routine” videos gain a lot of attention online. No matter the intentions though, there is a level of unattainable perfection that they advocate for when posting these things on their platforms.
Brands who sponsor these videos and use them as a way to promote their products are part of the problem as well. When influencers are rewarded for this type of content, they will of course continue to produce similar content in the future.
When people are bombarded with posts about the ideal habits, routines and meals to make them healthy or happy, it can be overwhelming and lead to more despair than motivation. With eating disorders affecting 9% of the population and anxiety and depression affecting even more, I think we should do a better job of producing content that is less prescriptive and more supportive.
With 86% of young Americans having dreams of becoming a social media influencer, I am not sure there is any end in sight to this kind of harmful content. However, I hope we can learn that there is no such thing as “perfect” anything, and the best daily routine is the one that makes you feel your best. What works for one person almost never works for someone else, so ignore the bombardment of unsolicited advice from non-professionals online because your self-worth should be measured by much more than your morning routine.
Liv Briley is a junior integrated marketing communications major from Lemont, Ill.