Hey, it’s Kelly again! I’m writing about something a little different today. Firstly, a bit about me. I’m 24 years old, a ‘standard’ size 8. I don’t wear makeup every day nor do I feel the need too. I try to maintain a healthy diet but if I really fancy a dominoes and a Chinese in one day, I’ll have a dominoes and a Chinese in one day. There are weeks that I don’t wash my hair for 5 days. But would you think that from looking through my personal Instagram account? Unlikely! There are things I would change but I’m happy with who I am and what I look like, despite still conforming ever so slightly to the Instagram expectation.
3 or 4 years ago I had a very different opinion on myself and that was before Instagram really kicked off like it has now. I was constantly worried about what others thought of me and how I looked, friend or foe. I’d never leave the house without a full face of makeup, I wore high heels EVERYWHERE and spent more money on getting my hair done than I did on my car. I would post pictures to please other peoples eyes, not my own. I would have constant fall outs with my boyfriend because he disagreed with the photos I uploaded and thought it was for attention from men. It was never for the attention of the opposite sex. Instagram is an overwhelming forum for competition between your own sex. Who has the biggest boobs? Who has the longest legs? Who has the best makeup? Who has the best abs? It’s like GoCompare for female bodies. I mean, who has time to be that ‘perfect’?
I am terrified of the social media world my children will grow up into and I can only hope the 15-18-year olds now will grow up to realise they are beautiful as young women and do not need to look like these Instagram models to be beautiful. Secondary School is hard and confusing enough without having that sort of competition every time you look at your phone. Over the weekend, a friend of mine showed me an Instagram account of a girl she knew and opened with ‘guess how old this girl is?’. 80% of the pictures on her account were either in her underwear or a bikini. She had a bigger chest than most 25-year olds, abs like a gymnast and beautiful long hair. She was SIXTEEN. SIXTEEN!
Kids don’t want to grow up to be a Ballet dancer or an Astronaut anymore, ‘when I grow up I want to be an Instagram model’.
The blogger life does look pretty exciting and I can totally understand why people will look at that life and aspire to have it. Even I’ve thought ‘god you’re a lucky cow’ but I understand that is not what they look like, certainly not naturally and they do still have to do normal people stuff. We all know our good angles and our best side. Plus, I like to think that if I had a professional hair and makeup artist dolling me up every day for a professional photographer to take photos of me lounging on a yacht in the Med, I’d look that good too. I’ve always worked in marketing and whilst it shames me to say it, I know how something average can be twisted to look amazing, whether it’s a product or a person. You’ve seen those adverts for bog standard water bottles and they make them look so jazzy, you silently convince yourself you need one.
Some Instagram models are like an epidemic at the moment, selling the ‘Kim Kardashian’ bod with tiny waists, big hips and bums, DD chest and huge lips. 90% of these women have starved themselves for that tummy and spent a lot of money to look that way, they then go onto Instagram and get paid to post pictures promoting their look and encouraging young girls to think they will only be beautiful if they look like that. When does trying to obtain this look become too much? Women across the world are spending extortionate amounts of money to look like this, getting in serious debt at a young age and not necessarily becoming any happier. So, you’re not ‘genetically gifted’, very few are and don’t forget everyone’s definition of genetically gifted will be completely different. There are women like @iskra on Instagram, she is a beautiful woman that promotes a healthy lifestyle. She has a great body, works out regularly, eats healthily but she seems to enjoy her life too. She has embraced her naturally beautiful, healthy body, with the lumps and bumps and cellulite to go with it too. It’s not all about posing for the camera and photoshopping out every imperfection.
Here is @Iskra workin' it!
Whilst there is no question these Instagram models are attractive in their own right, they are promoting an unrealistic and unhealthy body image that, for most people, can only be achieved by taking drastic measure to surgically change their body. I don’t want to sit here and slam these models because that is who they are and how they make their money and hats off to them for doing it so well. If only we had more people that did the ‘Instagram vs Reality’ pictures to show their followers that they are normal people too. They get greasy hair some days, they get bloated and they get spots sometimes too.
People like this are my favourite:
But then we have plus size models which are the complete opposite side of the spectrum. I utterly disagree with the ‘plus size models’ category and I ask you all to bear with me on this. Plus size shouldn’t be a thing. If you have a healthy image and a brand is paying you promote their product or service, you are a model. Why are you given a different category because you wear a bigger pair of pants to some of the other girls?! I emphasis the word healthy because personally, size 0 isn’t healthy but nor is a size 22. There are of course some cases where people will have internal issues that make it much harder for them to maintain a healthy BMI and despite exercising regularly and having the perfect diet, they are still unable to put on or lose weight. But for me, a category being named plus size is almost a promotion of an unhealthy lifestyle. If you can’t be a size 0, be this size and you’ll get a modelling job. Or maybe it’s just a big two fingers up at ‘skinny girls’ and that can be received as a form of body shaming. EVERYONE IS BEAUTIFUL. I remember seeing a ridiculous meme on Facebook a couple of years ago, it was so bad that it’s stuck in my head even now. It said ‘Only dogs like bones’. I mean, WHAT! You are calling someone a dog just because they are smaller than you. It’s just bizarre and infuriating. The only body shape that should be encouraged is a healthy one. Ignore the trends and what you think you need to be pretty. Some people are naturally a healthy size 10, some people are naturally a healthy size 16. Both are beautiful.
I think the pressure gets easier as you get older but the pressure on young girls now is more intense than it has ever been. The BBC reported recently that “Instagram is rated as the worst social media platform when it comes to its impact on young people's mental health, a UK survey suggests”. Rates of anxiety and depression in young people have increased 70% over the last 25 years. Girls should be encouraging each other to embrace who they are and set their goals to be realistic and healthy. Social Media should be a place to share memories and fun times with your friends and family. Sharing the good, the bad and the ugly without judgment.
I would LOVE to know what you all think about this subject, whether you’ve felt bad about yourself because of a picture you’ve seen online or whether you’re worried your son or daughter will fall into the obsession. Let’s start a discussion on Facebook!
Let’s join together in encouraging everyone around us to embrace their superwoman and embrace your natural beauty.