(Sweater: Shopbop (sold out) (Similar from J.O.A., Similar from Endless Rose)//Skirt: Zara (sold out)//Boots: Zara (Similar in black from Free People, Similar from Stuart Weitzman, Similar from Schutz on Shopbop//Toque: sold out (Similar from White + Warren, Similar from Eugenia Kim))
Lately, there has been a huge backlash against the “curated” Instagram feed. More and more, I’m hearing complaints about all the “perfect” photos and “unattainable” lifestyles on Instagram, which in turn, are causing people to feel bad about themselves. Even worse, I’ve heard reports of people hurting themselves, having eating disorders, or committing suicide, which makes my heart sink.
And I totally get it. Instagram can be a lot to handle at times. I’ve had days (actually, lots) where I’ve scrolled through my feed and felt down on myself or depressed. We’ve all been there.
I’m also ALL for sharing more real moments on Instagram and providing value and inspiration in our Instagram posts. But, what needs to stop is making ‘the curated Instagram feed’ or ‘perfect Instagram photo’ the source of the world’s problems.
If you are someone or are the parent of someone who is blaming someone’s curated Instagram feed as the source of your problems, you’re ignoring bigger issues at play, which need to be addressed first.
What Does “Curated” Mean?
First, what does “curated” mean to you? Does it mean having a consistent aesthetic/style/theme and beautiful photos on Instagram? Or does it mean faking it?
As an influencer, there is no question that being fake, portraying a life that isn’t really your own, and using photoshop to lie to your audience, is not okay. But, that’s not what I’m talking about for purposes of this post. What I’m referring to here are accounts with a well-planned design, consistent theme, the photos people deem as being “too perfect” because they’re beautiful, and the lifestyles of the people who post them.
The Real Problems
Blaming (and even shaming) bloggers and content creators seems to be becoming ‘the new thing’. It’s so convenient to point the finger at the curated Instagram feed or the influencer because that’s the easy target.
But, the issues people seem to be overlooking are: our own insecurities and our unhealthy addictions to social media. So, until we start introducing those issues into the dialogue, we will not be able to have a real discussion about it.
1. Our Own Insecurities and Mindsets
As you may know from following my Instagram, I’ve started a “Happiness Project” for 2018 to minimize negative thoughts and their impact on me. This has gotten me to start looking a lot more within myself and to question where my negative thoughts are coming from (and hence was the catalyst for this post). I’ve decided to take ownership for my negative feelings and emotions rather than blame something or someone else.
Like I said, we’ve all scrolled Instagram to see posts that have caused us to feel badly about ourselves – self-doubt, anxiety, inadequacy, depression, FOMO. “She’s so fit”, “She must be rich”, “She has the best clothes”, or “She has the perfect life.”
But, what is causing us to feel that way? When I’ve stopped to think about it, those feelings are stemming from my own insecurities. If I’ve had a bad day, haven’t been to the gym in a while, haven’t been eating well, or can’t afford to shop because I’m saving money, the minute I start scrolling on Instagram, I instantly feel like shit! It’s really easy to blame the external factor (it’s called having an “external locus of control”), and mental health issues shouldn’t be overlooked either.
If the problem is coming from within, it won’t go away until it’s addressed.
Don’t Compare Your Chapter 1 to Someone Else’s Chapter 20
We all need to recognize that this type of comparison is unhealthy. We need to stop comparing our chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20 (whether it’s on Instagram, or in life)! The bloggers and content creators who are being blamed have been doing this for years.
Just 3 years ago, I would look at certain bloggers’ photos and feel like I would NEVER be able to take photos like that. Fast forward to today, and I’m still developing my skills, but I can’t believe how far I’ve come! Always remember that everyone starts somewhere, and it takes a lot of practice to become a professional at something.
Don’t Compare Apples to Oranges
Don’t forget that bloggers are hired to create content, so our content is going to be professional. We use professional cameras or work with professional photographers, and we use special software and applications to edit our photos. If you feel a certain photo is unattainable, but you have never practiced photography, then that’s kind of an unfair comparison.
Because some people have been in the industry for a long time, have amassed a large following, and therefore get lots of opportunities, they do actually have that lifestyle. If I hate on my neighbour just for having a bigger house and more expensive car than me, then that’s on me, not my neighbour.
Why is there a culture of shaming people for their accomplishments? Shouldn’t success stories be celebrated?
2. Addictions to Technology and Social Media
Let’s also start addressing our unhealthy addictions to technology and social media! We spend sooooo much time consuming media online! But, how many of us actually set limits for ourselves or stop to think critically about the information we’re consuming?
Instagram has been called the WORST social media platform for mental health. And, it’s not just Instagram! I recently started a YouTube channel and have noticed my time on that platform increase exponentially! It was originally to watch video editing tutorials, but it wasn’t until I was like 6 or 7 videos deep in the life of the KarJenners that I realized what the hell was going on! I’m not even one to ‘keep up with the Kardashians’ (in fact, I’ve made a conscious effort to NOT tune in to that family). But I got sucked in, and my feelings went from being intrigued to self-pity in a matter of minutes!
That’s just the nature of social media. It is over-saturated and there are hundreds and thousands of people and posts vying for your attention on a daily basis. It’s not going away anytime soon, so why blame social media when we have the power to limit our time spent on it?
Why I Don’t Hate on the Curated Instagram Feed
That all being said, here are 3 reasons why I will not hate on the curated Instagram feed:
- I am a content creator. As somebody who operates in and understands this industry, I respect the work of my peers. Trust me, it requires a lot of discipline to create a curated feed and there is a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes to create those beautiful photos. Discipline and hard work – aren’t those good qualities? What’s probably even worse than complaints coming from people outside of this industry are the complaints coming from the people within (but that’s maybe a topic for another day).
- It is someone’s best work. Curated means to: “select, organize, and present (items in a collection, online content, merchandise, information, etc.)”. That’s precisely how I look at a curated Instagram feed – as a collection of work. If you are a blogger or business owner, Instagram is like an online catalogue. So, it only makes sense to post your best work! Instagram is a visual platform and has evolved into one of the most important tools for businesses to attract customers and connect with their audience. Personally, I’d MUCH rather see curated (i.e. well thought out) content than shitty content on Instagram. The influencer market is over-saturated, the bar is constantly being raised, and bloggers SHOULD rise to the occasion. As I’ve said before, it offends me to the core to see examples of bad influencer marketing. If I was a brand and paying someone to create content, you better believe I’d want it to be perfect!
- Authenticity and originality always shine through. Curated is one thing and lack of authenticity is another. So, if you don’t like someone’s curated feed because he or she lacks authenticity, then you should most definitely unfollow, if authenticity is important to you. It’s pretty easy to spot the people on Instagram who are not authentic.
So, I want to leave you with a few alternatives to pointing the finger at the ‘curated feed’ or ‘perfect Instagram photo’:
- Focus on healthy thoughts. If your thoughts are unhealthy, they will affect all aspects of your life. If it’s not Instagram, it will be something else. Divorce yourself from negative thinking and surround yourself with positive thoughts and people! If mental health issues are causing the problem, please speak to someone and get help.
- Use technology in a productive way. Let’s take control of our unhealthy addictions to social media and technology! Tune out, ESPECIALLY if you are having a bad day! Limit yourself to a couple times or hours per day on Instagram. Find other sources of productive, thought-provoking, uplifting, or enlightening media. Listen to TED talks. Or better yet, put the phone down. Give yourself at least 1 or 2 hours a day without technology. Pick up a book. Go for a walk. Meditate.
- Take it for what it is. As with any other type of media, take it for what it is. It’s someone’s highlight reel or professional work, so don’t let it make you feel bad about yourself.
- Unfollow, as needed. Unfollow accounts that don’t provide any value to you. But at the same time, don’t automatically dismiss someone’s work because it appears too perfect, if there is, in fact, an authentic voice behind it.
You always have the autonomy to choose how long and in what manner you spend your time on social media. And while it may not come easy to some (myself, included), you DO have the power to take control of your own thoughts and insecurities, and the impact they have on you.
What are your thoughts on this issue? I’d love to know in the comments below.
Photography by: Laura Clarke Photography