Today, Instagram has over 400 million+ users which are probably why after it was launched seven years ago, it has mutated into an enormity of self-promotion where the more likes a person has, the more prestige and earning power they can command.
Let’s be perfectly frank here: Instagram isn’t real life. It’s an accentuated reality where most of us portray ourselves at our best. Sometimes people will spend hours tuning photos on apps to get rid of their flaws. Even simple pictures of food can be littered with filters to take them from looking average to appetising.
Numerous artists, like the anonymous photographer behind Hipster Barbie, have criticised the way people use Instagram to make their lives seem more amazing than they are and to set unrealistic standards for their followers.
It’s sad for a platform that started out as simply a means to share and discover experiences through photographs.
It may be hypocritical of me to criticise Instagram because, like many others, I too use it to promote myself and my business by chasing those likes too.
Rebecca Pearson talks in The Telegraph about having woefully low numbers of followers (2,400) compared to mega-stars like Kendall Jenner (40.4million). To get her numbers up, she has to post daily feel-good shots that (supposedly) let people in on her everyday life. The more aspirational the better; workouts, behind the scenes on shoots and holiday snaps of her looking great somewhere exotic are the aim of the game.
What her followers will never see are the hours spent typing at her desk in a dressing gown or snivelling into a hankie feeling sorry for herself.
“However, I often resent it. Plundering my own life, 24/7 for posts can feel invasive – although I am keenly aware that I am the one invading my own privacy. I find the fact that social currency and potential employability is now being based on a bunch of likes from random strangers as depressing as the next person.
I’d love to just be free of the obligation, but at least I have a certain detachment from it all. I’m old enough to remember there being one computer in my primary school (wheeled into the classroom to great ceremony!), so I do have a built-in reality check.
Younger users, however, often appear to be emotionally attached to their smartphones and it worries me that being constantly pelted with unattainable, airbrushed lies is starting to make them feel terrible about their own realities.”
However, it’s not all doom and gloom as Anna Victoria brings up a good point. She says we shouldn’t be put off by certain aspects of our bodies – but rather use it for empowerment.
Yes, social media does portray that element of perfectionism. Anna say’s in one of her Instagram posts:
“Lighting. Is. Everything. 99% of pictures you see on social media are taken in the best possible lighting and that ain’t no accident.
So when I got into the elevator with the lighting on the right, I zoned in on the cellulite on the back of my arms. Yes, cellulite on your arms is a thing!
I’ve had it since the beginning of my journey and while it’s lightened up since then, it’s still not totally gone… because I’m human. Seriously, girls, stop thinking you’re the only one with cellulite and that it’s some kind of disease!
So, do I love the look of my arms on the right? No, but I don’t hate it or myself for it, either. And you shouldn’t either.”
This is such a strong message those men and women who might sometime scroll through their feeds and feel like that body type is never attainable.
However, it’s not the first time Ms Victoria has showed her fans unflattering photos to send a message.
Even though people are not particularly unhappy with their bodies, seeing endless perfect photos start to make them compare, poke and prod at their own body.
‘The impact social media has on young people and their self-esteem is an issue I feel very strongly about and if me posting one casual, non-posing, non-done up photo can help a young girl (or man, or anyone of any age!) feel better about themselves, then I’m happy to put myself out there.”
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