"Can you write a blog about girls loving themselves please? And to stop with the curved backdrops? To make girls love them for them?"
"Instagram should be a source of joy, love and mutual support." In the words of Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche (well she was talking about marriage but she's my girl and the quote has been stuck in my head since I was sixteen, but marriage and Instagram are basically the same thing so role with me on this one.)
In 2017, Forbes revealed that Instagram ranked as the worst social media app for causing young people to feel depressed due to the way the platform is very image focussed, which drives a feeling of inadequacy and anxiety in young people. Basically, it makes us feel like shit for not looking a certain way or having a certain lifestyle.
So what is it about Instagram that seems to be encouraging young girls to alter their images? And I'm not just talking about increasing the brightness/darkness of an image or adding a filter, I'm talking about airbrushing out spots and pores (guilty), taking 2, 3, 4 inches off your waist, making your but look bigger, skinnier arms, slimmer thighs and so the list goes on. (Also guilty.)
Christmas day 2017, me, Lydia Stephens, a hungover mess, made her way downstairs at about 12 o'clock in the afternoon, finally showered and dressed, ready for that Christmas photo by the fire. After making my mother take about fifty photos of me, I finally settled on this one, but I just wasn't happy with the extra bit of chub I'd gained over the winter months, (its cold, I like to hibernate and eat), so snip snip snip, two inches off my waist.
This was less than two months ago, and now I'm sat here writing this post screaming at the photo WHAT WERE YOU THINKING GIRL??? The post was intended to show my outfit off, not my body, and I'm pretty sure that it would have gotten just the same amount of likes if I hadn't edited the photo, in fact here is the original, which actually looks a lot better now I think of it.
ANYWAY, back to the main issue here, likes. I've talked about Instagram as a really good organic business tool in my previous posts and there is no doubt that it has allowed normal people to set up their own business or get their writing/creative work/opinions out there. The growth of Instagram in recent years has also had a massive contribution to the growth of the unattainable 'skinny thick' body type due to influencers and celebrities sharing images of their bodies. (Mainly the likes of Kim K and Kylie Jenner but we won't name names.)
The Pool wrote a really interesting article recently about the way these women have changed the faces of beauty from 'the blonde bombshell of the nineties to a racially ambiguous enchantress'. Yomi Adegoke talks about how this is being passed off as being more inclusive of women of colour when in fact its still setting a standard of beauty that is unnattainable. Read more of her article here.. https://www.the-pool.com/beauty/beauty-honestly/2018/4/Yomi-Adegoke-on-Kim-Kardashian-Beauty-Standard
This body trend rakes in the likes on Instagram yet it isn't being criticised in the same way we used to criticise skinny super models, and it should. Young girls feel so pressured by this beauty trend that they go as far as to alter their own body shapes (when they already are a solid 10/10 with no makeup on) in the hope of getting more likes. As much as we Insta addicts hate to admit it, we are really affected by the amount of likes that we get on a post, and here is why..
If I have lost you at this point, please return and watch this video of my new found love Courtney Act, explaining the science behind why we are addicted to likes.. Honestly if you can't be arsed to read anything on this post please just watch this video, it changed my life.
The whole point of this post was to encourage people to be more conscious of the way that Instagram may affect their mental health, body image, consumerism, and thought process, so the list goes on. I've previously wrote about my own addiction to Instagram and how its made me addicted to shopping just because I'm addicted to that little chemical oxytocin when someone compliments my outfit on a photo, and now that I know that I'm so much more aware of how I'm influenced through the app.
As much as I am obsessed with the app and love to read posts from bloggers and influencers, I wish there was a sort of warning that came with it that said PLEASE DO NOT FEEL PRESSURED TO LOOK LIKE OR LIVE LIKE THIS. I think its time that social media influencers start taking more responsibility for the stuff that they post, by all means go and buy that dress that your favourite instagirl posted and yes try that face cream that you were recommended by your favourite beauty mogul but be aware that these influencers are getting paid (and rightly so) to promote these products.
I make it my number one rule on Instagram not to point out something that I personally think is a flaw in my photo, like 'excuse the messy background' or 'ignore the spot on my chin'. because guess what? No one will notice it until you point it out! Keep this in mind the next time you go to photoshop a photo, no one will notice what you think is a wide waist or chubby arms or little bum so there is no need to alter it. As humans we are our greatest critics, and its time to change that. I am the worst person for criticising my body and I have struggled with being comfortable with my weight for as long as I can remember so I have made it my thing this year to not look at a photo of myself and be repulsed as I usually am, buuuuuut to be like hey girl you look good love the outfit. I am deleting the Airbrush app off my phone once and for all and I want everyone who reads this to do that too!
Going to end with this tunnnne from Kendrick Lamar because as you can tell I've discovered how to add videos to my posts.