“Oh my god. Did you see the way she Facetuned her Insta post yesterday? She looks like a cartoon.”
In my eyes, Instagram has become such a curated experience. You want others to see that you are thriving or living your best life. Five years ago I decided to flip the script on that notion. Rewind to the summer of 2017, I was home from a college I would no longer be attending due to the toll it took on my mental and physical health. I wanted a clean slate prior to the new school I would be transferring to. The day I came home I made a choice: to document both the good and the bad of this journey I was about to embark on. My goal was to fall in love with myself physically and mentally.
The average American woman is a size 12, but in 2017 the average woman on Instagram seemed to go anywhere between a 4 and 6. As a woman residing in a non-Instagram body I was intimidated. But slowly I began by posting a gym selfie or two, adding a caption mostly for myself detailing the obstacles I was aiming to overcome. While the purpose was to watch my own progress, I was receiving support and acceptance from those following along. Snapping a photo from a dressing room, having a “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” moment when I fit into a pair of jeans comfortably, I was again met by support.
I was not doing this for the likes or for the multitudes of comments that usually follow after Instagram photos. By the end of the summer, I had healed myself mentally in terms of my ability to view myself and be viewed by others. I was able to look through my feed and watch the progression of both my physical and mental health as I chose myself. No longer was I thinking about what others would think when scrolling through my posts. Rather, I was thinking about what I wanted to see for me. It is a cheesy concept, but we do only get to be ourselves once. That time should be used to its fullest, and why would I parade myself on my socials as someone I’m not? What is the use in pretending to be someone you aren’t when it’s just as easy to be yourself?
But that’s not to say that it is a cure-all. I won’t tell you that I go on Instagram now and feel nothing when I see photos of women who I perceive look better than me in some way, shape or form. The insecurity still lingers, but I can remind myself of 2017 and who I was before that. I focus on how far I have come in this journey, how far I still have to go, and that beauty and attraction can be unconventional, not conventional.
That was my goal when I started all those years ago: to flip the convention of beauty and aesthetics on its head and focus on the individuality of the person behind the feed.
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