Disclaimer: The views expressed within this article are entirely the author’s own and are not attributable to Wessex Scene as a whole.
Without realising it, social media slowly seeps into our thoughts and makes its way into our perspective time and time again. A platform, which should broaden your outlook and allow you to positively connect with peers, more often than not has the opposite effect, leaving your sense of self-worth to narrow and diminish at the hands of a few photographs and/or statuses.
What we fail to recognise is that people who post on social media are personas of themselves – an over-glorified version of what really contributes to their lives. It is merely a space for showing off our thoughts, achievements, and desires to others in the hope of instant gratification, in which we rely on other people to boost our self esteem and general mood.
Not only is it causing an incredibly unhealthy mindset towards our own internal perception, but also to our bodies. The body positivity movement is certainly nothing new, but lately I see a shift in its sentiment. I suddenly see a sea of model-perfect influencers on my newsfeed, who have clearly planned their outfits, hair and makeup and have taken literal hours out of their day to get the picture-perfect post, branding themselves under this movement.
During the first lockdown I made the decision to uninstall Instagram from my phone. Out of all the forms of social media I have, Instagram is by far the most negatively impactful. What was once a platform to share quotes, pictures of pets and pretty sunsets has become a breeding ground for consumerism and brand deals, hosted by seemingly glamorous and ‘perfect’ influencers.
It is not the body type or the look of the people featuring in posts that bothers me – I strongly believe that all people of varying body shapes and sizes should feel empowered in their own skin – it is that they are displaying an unattainable lifestyle to others, particularly the younger generation, who will then become fixated on being exactly who they see on their screens, rather than being the best version they can be.
These influencers often get paid to be presented in a certain light. They have the time to eat healthily and go to the gym five times a week. They get gifted makeup, luxury trips and other products that make their lifestyles appear rosier from the outside looking in. This is their job.
The harsh truth is that brand deals are a form of marketing, in which the aim is to sell. ‘Normal’ working-class citizens who stress-scoff packets of hobnobs and simply do not have the time or money for multiple trips to the gym and salon simply do not sell products – and that fills me with great sadness.
What needs to be realised and reiterated is that the ‘ideal’ body image changes over time. You can try to live up to what society currently views as acceptable, but ultimately as that perception is achieved, another ideal will enter and the whole self-loathing and self-hatred cycle spins all over again.
Nowadays, I make sure that the people I associate myself with on social media – whether they be friends or celebrities – all spread messages of positivity and highlight the importance of individual difference on self-worth. No one body type is particularly ‘Instagramable‘ or ‘Insta-worthy’ because ultimately who you are is enough for that to be possible – if you have a body it is worthy of being posted about, should you want that of course.