Asking for a Friend: Help! My friend is obsessed with Instagram and it’s making her - and me - insecure

  • This week we give tips on helping your pal step back from social media and getting dealing with anxiety
  • If you have difficult, embarrassing or awkward questions to ask about teen life, send them in anonymously, and ‘Friend of a Friend’ will do their best to help you
Amalissa Hall |

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It can be easy to get caught up in social media, but you can't let it run your life.

Hello Friend,

One of my best friends is constantly seeking validation about her looks. Recently, more people started following her on Instagram and ever since, she’s started becoming more insecure. She won’t stop asking our opinions on her photos and outfits, and all she talks about now is how “ugly” she looks.

It’s more than a bit annoying because she is cute, slim, never gets spots, and has really nice clothes.

Honestly, it’s getting on my nerves, because (a) she has nothing to worry about as she’s already won the genetic lottery, and (b) the things she’s pointing out about herself are now making me feel insecure about myself!

I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but how can I tell her to stop being so obsessed with these things?

Thank you, Fragile Friend

How to handle fake friends

Hi Fragile,

It sounds like your friend needs a break from Instagram. Unfortunately the algorithm has a way of keeping us online, and making us feel validated through likes and follows. I think, to be kind, as you don’t wish to upset her, you should try distract her with offline activities unrelated to the app.

It’s possible that this a phase she’s going through, and she’ll moves on from obsessing when she finds a new hobby. Suggest doing other activities like spending more time in nature where there’s no data. You can recommend a book or TV show she might enjoy, so she can broaden her interests and have something else to focus on.

Of course, if her behaviour and obsessing gets worse, as a good friend you should be honest with her. For example you could start the conversation by asking her: “Would you say the things you’re saying about yourself to someone else?”

You can bring up the fact that you’re worried and you care about the way she is thinking about herself.

Remember to take breaks from social media and go places with no data or access to the internet.

It’s important to have healthy conversations about self-love and self-worth, and it can start with sharing a different perspective.

Depending on how close you are, you could also tell her that by criticising herself, she’s unintentionally making you feel uncomfortable, as you are applying those thoughts to yourself. Make sure you are as calm and straightforward as possible, and definitely avoid putting blame on her, as she is already feeling sensitive.

Everyone perceives themselves differently, and while you might see your beautiful friend, she may see the opposite. Remind her, too, that she is worth more than her looks, and compliment her on other traits like intelligence, passion or kindness.

If she learns to value those attributes more than looks, it should help her move past any insecurities about her personal appearance.

Good luck, Friend of a Friend

How to help a friend with an eating disorder

Hi Friend,

I’m a guy and I think I’m suffering from anxiety. I’ve been struggling recently, so I did some research online and I have similar symptoms associated with anxiety.

I’ve never spoken to anyone about this as I’m not very good talking about how I feel. I’m wondering whether to bring this up with my parents or not. I’m nervous because I worry they won’t understand, or think I’m doing it for attention.

Maybe I’m overreacting about telling them, but I’d like a second opinion. I feel like being able to discuss this openly, and perhaps getting a professional diagnosis, would solve part of the problem.

Should I risk their negative reaction and talk to them? What should I do?

Feeling Anxious

How to handle burnout

Hi Feeling,

Never feel embarrassed about having anxious thoughts. A lot of people are going through a similar situation, especially after the stresses of the last year or so – many more than you think!

What is your relationship with your parents like? If you are generally close, I would go ahead and tell them as soon as you can, because this is 100 per cent the kind of thing parents are there for. They will no doubt have some advice, and hopefully find a professional for you to speak to.

Bear in mind, though, that they may not have the same emotional tools as you, so while they may be supportive, you may not get the answers you’re looking for. But that’s what professionals are for!

If you’re hesitant about raising the issue because you don’t know how to put it in words, visit the Coolminds website. This initiative was set up by mental health organisation Mind Hong Kong and non-governmental organisation Kely Support Group, and focuses specifically on youth mental health. They also have a list of hotlines if you need to speak to someone who doesn’t know you, and won’t judge.

A guide to discussing mental health as a guy

They may also be able to provide suggestions about where to seek professional advice and help.

While you’re looking for solutions to what you suspect could be anxiety, it might be worth learning about mindfulness and meditation. There’s a miniseries on Netflix called Headspace Guide to Meditation which introduces a range of meditation techniques that you could try, and see how that helps you manage your anxious feelings.

Additionally, you could try exercise, or a different form of exercise than you’re used to, to dispel negative thoughts, and find another outlet.

Ultimately, though, I think it’s a good idea to talk to someone. Reaching out to me is a good first step. I hope your parents come through, but remember there are many other channels out there.

I hope you find an answer, Friend of a Friend

If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please send an email to [email protected] with “Asking for a Friend” in the subject line. Don’t worry, you will remain anonymous!

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