Imagine living in a world without social media.
If you can even haul your brain to that impossible place, it probably seems pretty weird, doesn’t it?
That’s because we’ve allowed social media to become a staple in our everyday lives. And what was once meant to be a platform to connect with family and friends has somehow taken an unexpected, unhealthy turn.
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of good can still come from social media, and I understand that. But I’m concerned with the unhealthy habits that we, women especially, have developed as a result of social media.
We’re living in a generation where it is expected, encouraged even, to post the best versions of ourselves online.
And the worst part is, we have become so immune to the sharing, posting, snapping, tweeting, filtering, editing, commenting, and liking that we’ve truly lost sight of who we are as individuals and instead, began to focus on who we should be based on what we see portrayed on social media.
As a 23-year-old female, I understand that I am a very small speck of the population to admit that I’m not really active on social media. Unlike most, I have chosen to step away from Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat because quite frankly (for me personally) I no longer saw the point in the oversharing and overindulgence.
But, given the world we live in, I would feel too lost in translation and disconnected if I were completely absent from the social world, so the only social media platform I care enough to be a part of is Instagram. Unfortunately for me, I believe this is the most dangerous one of them all for young women.
I, like many other girls, forget that Instagram is a highlight reel.
Instagram is a place where you swipe through filters until you find the best one that’ll make your skin look the tannest and your hair the blondest. It’s is a place where you can edit your imperfections, covering up freckles, scars, marks, pimples, and other seemingly unsightly imperfections. It’s a place where if you don’t have a certain number of followers, you’re not cool enough. It’s a place where if you don’t get ‘X’ number of likes, then you’re not pretty enough. And worst of all, it’s a place where people who aren’t on your side are allowed to have a voice in your life.
As a young woman, I believe that training your brain to not compare yourself to other beautiful women would be as difficult a chain-smoker attempting to quit smoking cold turkey. And that’s because to some degree, we’ve allowed our scrolling to become an addiction.
I felt inspired to write this article because recently, I’ve been noticing a few women that I follow having the courage to share vulnerable posts about how they’ve been feeling down about themselves, myself included. Whether these posts are makeup or filter-free, or just a place to vent and express that they, too have fallen victim to the comparisons triggered by Instagram.
It is far too easy and quick for a woman’s mind to spiral into the pitfall of comparisons.
Not thin enough. Not pretty enough. Not tan enough. Wardrobe not cute enough. Hair not long enough. Not funny enough. Not smart enough. Never enough.
At one point or another, I am willing to bet that every girl at some point in their lives has felt, is feeling or will feel that they just aren’t enough of something. And I believe that the highlight reel that is Instagram is feeding into our negative thoughts.
Instagram has allowed us a peek into the lives of just about anyone we care enough to search for from A-list celebrities, Instagram models, girls we know, girls we don’t know, and even each other. The comparisons come from quite literally every single direction. And the thing is, we allow it.
Shame on us that we’ve allowed ourselves to believe that the Photoshop, filters, and edits are what define real beauty.
Shame on us to think that pimples, birthmarks, scars, and freckles are considered to be unsightly imperfections that require retouching.
Shame on us for time and time again allowing ourselves to compare to what we see on social media as we spend time scrolling endlessly, desperately wanting to change the way we look just so we can come close to fitting the bill of what other people believe is “beautiful.”
Beauty is not measured by the number of bikini pictures and selfies you can fill up on your Instagram page. In fact, I don’t think that beauty should be or can be defined by anything that you can see.
Real beauty is not your body shape, face, skin, hair or wardrobe.
Beauty is kindness, quirkiness, realness, and confidence. And you most certainly cannot measure confidence through Instagram likes.
So it’s time that we take a step away from Instagram for a moment (especially the explore page) and embrace ourselves for who we are as uniquely beautiful individuals.
When we spend time focusing on who and what we see online, we’re fueling the obsession that we have with finding physical perfection, an impossible achievement. And this desire to reach this impossible goal is what traps our minds into this desperate cycle of hopelessness and self-loathing.
When you find yourself allowing someone else’s life portrayed on social media giving you a reason to feel badly about your own, remind you that there are likely other women out there right now looking at you and feeling those exact same thoughts. And instead of comparing or sulking about what we don’t have or what we feel we lack, we should use this as an opportunity to build each other up.
Your personal self-worth and beauty will never be determined by your comparisons to others. So rather, focus on being the best version of yourself, not someone else. Embrace the things that make you different, both externally and internally. And understand that just because you may look or dress differently than other women, that doesn’t make you any less beautiful.