Wednesday, 1 August 2018

The Instagram Lifestyle




Let's talk about Instagram - or the gram, as many of us call it. It dominates social media. It's the main way that I connect with people I know, present myself to people I don't know and I guess in some ways, validate my appearance. If your Instagram feed looks good then you feel good about yourself. It's such a sad thing to say because it's so incredibly shallow, but Instagram has just completely taken over as the benchmark for... life.



A lot of my free time is spent online, scrolling through Instagram or watching YouTube videos. I suppose what inspired me to write this blog post, is a video that was recently uploaded by one of my favourite YouTubers. Do any of you watch Patricia Bright? I've been watching her for years. She is probably the only YouTuber whose advice I take and apply to real life. If she says don't buy something, I steer clear of it. If she says buy something, I am ten times more likely to add it to my basket and check out. Everything she does, I absolutely love. The clothes she wears, the way she does her make-up, her outlook on life, her success, her family. I could not fault her on a single thing. Until I watched this video.

Now for those of you who can't be bothered to watch the video, I'll give you a quick overview. Patricia makes a lot of fashion videos testing out new brands or showing you how to take simple affordable outfits to the next level by adding something like a luxury blazer or a high-end looking, but very affordable bag. She also does a lot of advice videos on how to keep motivated, how to be successful, how to be confident in your own skin. And after you watch these videos, you actually do feel inspired. She is a very inspiring and influential person with a huge social media following.

Now she's always made it clear that she's not a huge fan of her figure. She would make jokes about being straight up and down and after she had her baby, she made it even clearer that she had a problem with her stomach. Obviously being 22 and childless (thank you Jesus) I can't relate. But I can relate to seeing parts of your body in the mirror and wishing you could change them. We all can and some of us do find it harder than others to push that voice out of our minds and focus on the positives. Patricia has had a boob job and in this video, she admits to having had liposuction to change the shape of her body. It's her body, she can do what she wants with it and I think she looks great now but I also think she looked amazing before. So why did she do it?

People who get procedures like this done like to say that they did it because they weren't happy in themselves. They pretend that external, social factors haven't played a part. Maybe for some people they haven't, but nine times out of ten they have. When people are editing their bodies on apps like Instagram, advertising clothes and make-up, their new homes, their boyfriends, it leads people to believe that this is the checklist for happiness. That you need to look a certain way to feel a certain way, like I mentioned earlier.

The number of pictures I see on my explore page from people wearing outfits from different brands, tagging #ad or encouraging you to use discount code Chloe20 for 20% off. Or someone using a new product in their story and claiming it's the "best" product or their "favourite" product because they've been paid to say that. Maybe they do really like it, but scroll through their page and I guarantee you can find about fifty other favourite products they've been "absolutely loving".

It's not just the paid for ads or the sponsorships that have become smothering. It's the aesthetic of this perfect lifestyle. Of having a long-term boyfriend you can take pictures like this (pictured below) with, a new home that you're releasing a house tour video of, pictures grinning in front of a table filled with food because you're so real and just love stuffing your face. Everything is posed, edited, filtered to lay next to an aesthetic of similar pictures. To build an overview of a life that is essentially the Instagram lifestyle. Because without Instagram, really, you'd just be going out in outfits that you like, eating the food that you like, cuddling up with your boyfriend and actually just living. You wouldn't be stopping to pose every five or ten minutes for a new photograph.



Now, I'm a blogger so I am guilty of going out and asking my sister to take 100 photographs of me. But I put them on my blog and I add some writing. I don't know, I just think it's slightly different to uploading a photo and getting paid to receive x number of likes and engagements. Or uploading a photo hoping to build a following of thousands. I write on this blog because it's something I enjoy doing, not because somebody is paying me to do it. And I'm not selling a lifestyle that isn't real.

Having said that, I want to try and go out and not take any pictures. To order food and just enjoy eating it instead of letting it sit for a few extra moments while I get a good shot to post on my story. Or to wear an outfit and genuinely like it without feeling like I have to get a photo in it for the gram. A year or so ago, you would not have seen half the full body shots I have on Instagram right now. I would only take pictures of my outfits on occasions like birthdays or Christmas. Half of my pictures were selfies (I've always loved a selfie!) or of outdoor scenes or experiences with friends. Now I have a whole account dedicated to posting pictures of me and my outfits. I was the one who created that account and decided to turn it into that, yet it still annoys me! It's draining checking on the number of likes and follows. I used to put so many hash tags on to get my photos out there and get people to like it. Now I'm like, why? I built this blog up without an Instagram account because people enjoyed reading my content, so why do I now feel like I have to post posed photographs to continue its success?

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the Instagram lifestyle has really made people over-evaluate themselves and feel bad about who they are for absolutely no reason. Patricia didn't need to get any surgery. We liked seeing her clothes on a real body that wasn't perfect and I'm sure there were new mums out there who found it refreshing to have somebody to relate to. It's difficult to find anybody on Instagram you can relate to because the app as a whole is full of some of the most non-relatable images out there. I sometimes feel that influencers are widening this gap. We follow them, we like their posts, we even admire them sometimes. But it's sad because, slowly they've stopped showing us real life.

What are your thoughts on Instagram and the influencers that dominate the game?

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