Apart from making me feel like an unethical whale, Instagram’s boom of breakfast snaps featuring avocado galore, green smoothies and veganism hype is a great thing. It encourages a healthier lifestyle and thinking about what we’re putting into our bodies. What isn’t so amazing is the body image and comparisons that go hand-in-hand with it.
Let’s face it, Instagram already crushes our souls with all of those ridiculously attractive Instagirls that you can’t quite help stalking – you know, just so you can find one more thing wrong with your face. It leaves you screaming, ‘Who actually looks like that?! And, more importantly, why cant I look like that?’ And, to top it all off, these flawless beings always have the abs to match. They definitely don’t have to worry about getting ‘bikini ready’ for summer. Slowly but surely, body image is becoming an obsession.
It often seems like everything posted on social media looks perfect. We all want to appear as if we have the best social lives and other halves. Ultimately, we want others to view us as attractive – beautiful, even – nobody monitors how many likes they get on a selfie for any other reason… let’s not beat around the bush here. Social media preening is all about validation from others.
It’s as if we’ve internalised that the more likes we get, the more attractive we are but, obviously, this isn’t the case at all. I think that social media has a lot to answer for when it comes to our obsession with comparing ourselves to others. Social media may make other people’s ‘lives’ so much more accessible, but what we don’t see is that we need to help ourselves. In actual fact – and this is something I can’t stress enough – we aren’t seeing the whole story. Eye rolls at the ready, please, because I’m about to churn out a cliche (and a personal favourite of mine): we are comparing our behind-the-scenes existences to someone else’s highlighted reel, so of course that’s going to paint our own lives in a dull shade of grey.
We don’t exist to be looked at or to be the most attractive and so the way we look – and the way others see us – shouldn’t be such a crucial factor in our happiness. We are here to live out our lives and enjoy the short time we have. Constantly obsessing over our images can only make us miserable and self-conscious. Quite frankly, its exhausting and makes you miss out on living. Dramatic, maybe, but true nonetheless.
If you’re always thinking about what you look like or sharing your daily selfie with your Facebook friends (or should I say acquaintances… admit it, at least half of them are!) you’re going to let all the little moments pass you by. And those little moments could turned into big moments, if you put down your phone and gave them the chance. See what I’m getting at?
Yes, being healthy is extremely important, but for yourself – not for the pure desire to have a body you can post pictures of. Who’s going to really care at the end of the day apart from you? Being comfortable in your own skin is for you and we aren’t pretty little things to be admired. We’re people, and our bodies have to last us a lifetime so it’s probably a good idea to look after them, right?
The headlines that magazines throw about promising that you’ll lose 10 lbs in 10 days if you follow 3 steps (really?!) are both a) ridiculously impossible and b) representative of everything wrong with our mindset. We should be exercising and eating well because our older selves will thank us for it as we’ll be able to climb the stairs. Or if you’re anything like me, you’ll at least be able to do that without being out of breath now! Treating your body with respect is so much more than a quick fix to a supermodel body.
We don’t need to look to society to know what we’re worth, and it’s sad that that’s easier said than done. The fact that at click of a button we can either feel attractive or ugly and rejected doesn’t help, but what are you going to tell your best friend when they feel rubbish about the way they look? Or your children?
You’re going to tell them that the things we’ll remember in life are what we did, what we felt and what we experienced. Self-confidence is a big boost to anyone, but no one on their death bed has ever wished they had a flatter stomach or were prettier. So health should be the focus when raving about the latest complicated crunch or new brand of almond milk – not image.
Images via Stylecaster/Instagram