Wednesday 10 October 2018

The Unedited Reality Of Instagram

For world mental health day, I thought I’d write a little blog post about the effects of Instagram on our mental health. As the first generation to grow up surrounded by social media, I think it’s very important to see what effects it is having on us as a society, and you don't have to look for long to see the damage it can have.

Instagram is being put forward as the worst social media platform for mental health issues, and it’s not hard to see why. Instagram is a social media platform created to be beautiful. Full of beautiful people, in beautiful places living their beautiful lives and sharing it for everyone to see.

Rates of stress, anxiety and depression have risen sharply over the last decade for teenage girls – a rise of 68% since 2007 - and is affecting girls at a much higher rate than boys.

This rise in mental health issues can be linked directly to the explosion of social media, with Facebook becoming available in the UK in 2005 and gaining in popularity since then and opening the door for the other social platforms that followed.

Everyone remembers what it was like being a teenager. It’s a time where you’re trying to figure out who you are as a person while trying to make friends, be successful at school, while also going through the rollercoaster that is puberty.

You’re probably a little awkward, self-conscious and it’s likely your self esteem isn’t the best it’s ever been. So it’s no surprise that spending your down time looking at your phone at this fake reality that you think you should be living - but you’re not - is probably going to affect your mental health.

Even I struggle with it at times, and recently have really hit a real rut where I keep comparing myself to other bloggers  - and other people’s lives. ‘Why don’t I look like her’, ‘Why can’t I dress as well as her’ etc etc…

When I get these thoughts, I know they’re poisonous, and as soon as they cross my mind I get off Instagram and try my best to leave my phone alone. And I know this isn’t just me who thinks this. I spend a lot of time on Instagram doing what I do, and as rewarding as it can be it can also be dangerous.

These feelings of inadequacy can sometimes build up to the point I know it’s really affecting me and my mental well-being, which is when I know I need to take a break from it all and do something to get me into a more positive space of mind.

This will be happening to women all across the world, and to teenagers who perhaps haven’t realised their self-worth yet to develop a confidence or coping mechanism to help them get over these feelings. It’s so easy to see how Instagram can really help to create a well of self-loathing that can easily take over your life.

The important thing with mental health awareness day is that the discussion around mental health is really opening up and more people are understanding and realising the importance of mental health and how pervasive it is and that it is just as important as physical health.

I feel a huge responsibility to show people that follow me that Instagram isn’t real. Everytime I post a photo of me in a bikini I can’t help but think of the people that might see that picture and consequently feel bad about themselves.

I started doing Instagram because I love clothes and I want to share my outfits and styling with the world, I in no way don’t ever want to create a page or platform that shows me as a perfect person with a perfect life with no anxieties or worries. Because that’s not true for me or for anyone.

I do think as someone who has an audience, whether it’s 3 million or 1000 people, you have a responsibility to try your best to dispel this mythical Instagram life that it looks like you might lead. Which is hard, because the whole point of Instagram is to make your feed look beautiful and look perfect.

We need to remember that Instagram isn’t real, and everyone you see on there looking like they’re living a dream will have the same body hang ups, the same family issues and daily anxieties you have. They just aren’t taking pictures of that side of their life.

Instagram is an edited and perfected version of you, and isn’t the real version – so don’t be fooled and don’t let it affect the way you view yourself and your life.

Because we’re all a little insecure and we all have bad hair days and breakouts. So anytime you hear that nagging voice tell you you’re not good enough or as pretty as the person on your phone screen, don’t listen. Just remind yourself without all that editing, lighting, angles and photography equipment, they wouldn’t look that different to you.

So enjoy all my outtake photos - the ones I don't post but I have a lot more of than my insta-worthy edits - and remember that you are good enough.
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