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‘Knowing social media can be fake is a superpower’

Online sensation Trisha Lewis tells Caoimhe Young she’s on a mission to help young people to be themselves on Instagram — and admits even she has to log off every now and then?

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Trisha Lewis is encouraging teens to take a breather from Instagram.

Trisha Lewis is encouraging teens to take a breather from Instagram.

Trisha Lewis is encouraging teens to take a breather from Instagram.

Trisha Lewis knows what it’s like to be bullied and to come back from rock bottom.

The Cork author of two best-selling weight-loss books found her voice on social media using Instagram as a tool to come back from a food addiction that was damaging her health – she once weighed in at 26 stone and one pound and was a smoker.

Trisha now has an impressive 110,000 followers on her Trisha’s Transformation page where she shares healthy recipes along with inspirational and practical advice.

Now the 32-year-old top chef, who has a string of sponsorship deals with big names like Aldi and now Dove, is doing talks in Irish schools as part of a Dove campaign aimed at giving kids the power to be who they really are on social media and to take a break from the internet sometimes.

The brunette, who is one of nine sisters and has lost an impressive eight stone, says: “I’m glad I didn’t have social media when I was growing up because I know what it’s like to be fat shamed.

“I thought the survey was so interesting, it found that 75 percent of young teenagers use social medial all the time, which is huge, and of course 25 percent of them said social media makes me feel worse about how they look.

“The survey shows that 39 percent of them downloaded a face editing app to try and cover something up something that they were insecure about.

“For the first time in my life, I decided I would download this app to see what it was like, and it was quite an infuriating experience because there is no point where I stop and go actually, I don’t need to pinch my nose, I was so curious, I was like I’m going to chisel that I will have some cheekbones. I couldn’t stop.

“The app made me see more imperfections, I could see the circles under my eyes, I could see too many freckles, everything that I hadn’t noticed before that I could then see it.”

The survey results were from 202 girls in Ireland aged 10-17 who answered questions about their thoughts and habits for The Dove Self-Esteem Project.

Trisha says: “It’s impossible to live without social media, unfortunately I think if I were a teenager I would try and live without it, but I had this discussion yesterday at a party and one of the mammies said you would not have any friends.

“Being yourself and and knowing that online can sometimes be fake is your superpower.

“Instagram has turned into my career but it’s still a hobby of mine, I love social media I love seeing what people are up to and getting inspiration. But yes, I will have boundaries, if I find myself getting anxiety then I’ll come off it I’ll come off my phone go for a walk and come back to planet earth.”

Still with weight to lose (her goal is to eventually lose 13 stone all together) Trisha loves the gym and has quit smoking for good.

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She says: “Well sometimes on a night out I might have one but I smoked 20 cigarettes a day minimum for eighteen years and I wanted to get rid of them. It was the best thing I did in my entire life.

“Strong Irish women and men are well able to change their lives. I love being strong in the gym I love it.”

Now a size 16, buying clothes once filled her with dread but is now a total pleasure.

She says: “I like Dunnes, and I love Hickeys, I love M&S., I’m trying to buy one as opposed to seven different ones, so I try to be sustainable. Whenever something fits me, I’m delighted.”

Now she’s found confidence in herself, is there any romance?

“Once I love myself that’s the main thing. That’s something I’ve never learnt in the past so you must look after yourself because all that will eventually happen, now I’m not worried about it.”

  • The Dove Self-Esteem Project aims to reach the lives of 1/3 of all 11–14-year-old girls in Ireland by the end of 2021 through a free programme of easy-to-use resources that are available for teachers, parents, mentors, and guardians across Ireland. To get access to the tools or to register your school check out our online learning hub at dove.com/uk/dove-self-esteem-project.html.

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