My Instagram May Look Perfect, But It's Not Real Life
The day started out like any other Monday.
I woke up several times before seven thanking the powers that be (or time itself) that I still had a few more hours to sleep. And then I overslept. I woke up at 8:30 and stumbled out to a bright blue sky and a million items on a to-do list that existed only in my sleep-groggy head.
The first task of the day was to post an Instagram (easy, right?), followed by two hours of writing for client number one, breakfast for lunch, two hours of writing for client number two, followed by the gym and then yoga (I don't typically piggyback my workouts, but I've been eating a lot of cheese curds lately).
What up, Monday? I thought — or did I say that aloud, to no one in particular?
I poured myself a cup of mushroom coffee and I got to work…
Tackling the first task on my to-do list, I opened my Instagram app and briefly scrolled through my feed of friends looking fabulous, perfectly posed influencers and public figures, and girls in bikinis selling skinny teas (targeted ads, no doubt), and then I checked my own profile.
Upon realizing that I had nothing new or interesting to post to my account, I bribed my boyfriend (with the promise of breakfast sooner rather than later) to get out his camera and shoot some photos of me.
Approximately 47 photos, a trillion ugh’s, and many, many, many, awkward poses later, I finally deemed a single snap worthy of posting — albeit, it would need to be cropped and filtered in order for me to feel even remotely confident hitting that “share” button.
As I was writing my caption, it dawned on me, the sheer absurdity of it all. How we use social media, how we consume social media, and most disconcerting, how we abuse social media. I couldn’t help but wonder how (or if?) it’s possible to truly be authentic in a space that both promotes and rewards the facade.
As a writer, self-love advocate, and a modern voice determined to empower women through my stories, I couldn’t help but wonder if my Instagram account, or more specifically the images I share on my account, were helping or hurting my cause. Yes, I want my voice to be heard. Yes, I want to reach my people, my ladies, my sisters from other misters. But at what cost? What if the photos I was having to bribe my boyfriend into taking for me; were, in turn, making others — my littlefoolbook followers (hi, i luv yew) — feel bad about themselves, the same way many of the photos I see on Instagram sometimes make me feel bad about myself?
The worst part about it all is the process of getting that “perfect shot” was also inherently bringing to the surface my own body image issues. How could I be authentically preaching self-love and beauty at any size, color, age, or otherwise, when the behind-the-scenes reality was so far from that message? The behind-the-scenes reality being hundreds of photos on my boyfriend's hard drive that would never make the cut because I thought I looked weird, or felt like I took up too much space in the frame, or because certain aspects of my physical body didn’t seem to fit in with (social) media’s "acceptable" beauty standards.
I know it’s 2018 and we’re making waves and setting a new standard for all the girls and women who will come after us. I know that there are now many magazines who do not retouch their models, and there are entire Instagram accounts devoted to raw beauty, and body positivity, and the subsequent message to women everywhere is shifting from exclusive to inclusive of all colors, shapes, and sizes. And I want to be part of the movement. I want to be able to scroll through my Instagram feed and feel like it’s okay to have scars and cellulite and wrinkles and curves and roots and eyebrows that aren’t symmetrical. And I want the girls and women who follow me to feel and know the same.
Which got me thinking…
What if, instead of trying to fit in with the other influencers and stars of social media, instead of only portraying "perfection" (whatever that is?), instead of trying to stand out in a social setting where everyone looks and sounds the same, I simply tried to be honest? Because even a self-proclaimed self-love guru has insecurities.
Monday Mornings sponsored by mushroom coffee ☕️ Peep the latest on littlefoolbook.com to find out why I’m sipping on funghi these days. * Also, let it be known on the record that it took 47 outtakes of pretty much this same exact shot before I felt comfortable enough to post this one — cropped, no less. I’ll be sharing the outtakes on my STORY today, because while I’m curating a collection of photos paired with words that feels like me and feels like littlefoolbook, I also want to be transparent about the process. I preach self-love but I don’t always feel beautiful or worthy and more often than not, a picture is worth a thousand words and you can see the self-doubt on my face or through my body language. It’s cliched, but it’s a journey. And these days, I’m learning that more often than not, self love = self acceptance.
What should have been a short and sweet task at the top of my to-do list transpired into a multiple hours long debacle — myself, near tears hating my clothes (like, why the hell was I wearing a kimono atop a chunky knit sweater?), wishing I had washed my hair, and lamenting the unruly size of my nose — but I learned a valuable lesson.
To truly be authentic, one must let down the facade. To let down the facade is to be vulnerable. And to be vulnerable is to be open, honest, and true to yourself.
Yes, vulnerability is self-love at it’s finest.
SO. With that in mind, I posted the above photo with the filters that tie together my Instagram gallery and contribute to the overall littlefoolbook aesthetic, but instead of BS-ing my way through a caption that didn't feel REAL to me, I decided to stick with the truth because Instagram is NOT real life.
It's no secret that what we often see on Instagram is the highlight reel of other peoples lives. The perfectly choreographed moments, the (sometimes unnaturally) shiny bits, the good news. We see engagements and graduations, baby births and birthdays; perfectly stained pouts blowing out candles on perfect cakes. We see the pre-drinks — glossy and glittering — but never the morning after. We see the kisses on Valentine's Day, but not the fight and makeups between the Hallmark Holidays. We see the exotic travel to foreign destinations, but rarely the loneliness, the sacrifice, or the homesickness that often accompanies it.
All the stuff that's going on behind the selfie? That's real life. But here's the catch. It's not really our business to know the real life, behind-the-scenes details of our family, friends, or perfect strangers on the internet. Just because we follow someone on social media doesn't mean we're entitled to see what goes on behind closed doors in their home, relationship, or otherwise.
Social media is an interesting tool. We're entitled to share as much or as little as we want (I mean, as long as there are no female nipples involved, right?) and so it's no surprise that often the photos and details that people choose to publicize are flattering. And that's okay. As long as we, the "consumers," are able to recognize that there is, in fact, a difference between what is posted on Instagram and the real life that goes with it.
While I think the onus falls on us to recognize this difference — after all, just as we clicked that "follow" button, we can also choose to "unfollow" — I'm not opposed to dropping the veil on my own account. Because just as I've said all along, I want littlefoolbook to be a safe and inclusive and honest space.
Which is why ...
Along with my cropped and filtered photo that I posted Monday morning, I also shared the outtakes on my Instagram STORY, so that you could see what was really going on behind-the-scenes. In the spirit of radical transparency, I should mention that those images were not easy to share. I felt self-conscious and like ... basically the exact opposite of an Instagram model. In a space that both promotes and rewards the facade, I felt exposed.
But those images are me and more often than not what self-love really means is self-acceptance.
Now, all of this isn't to say that you should do anything different with your Instagram photos or re-consider what you choose to share. I'm not picking on anyone's perfect gallery — more than likely, I'm admiring it. So you just keep doing you, babe.
And while I'll continue curating a feed that looks and feels and sounds like me, and therefore looks and feels and sounds like littlefoolbook, I'll also be making a (brave and) conscious effort to remain radically transparent in my content and in my captions. Keep an eye on my Instagram Story to see what's behind the selfie.
Your turn! Are you keeping up an unnecessary facade? Where can you be more vulnerable in your life? Comment Below.
PS. Thank you (TY! TY! TY!) to all who reached out to me on Instagram and slid into my DM's. You have inspired me and given me the strength to continue sharing beyond the highlight reel. I HEART YOU.