A popular conversation nowadays is whether or not social media and "your phone" are bad for your mental health and social skills.
This is something I have been thinking about for quite some time, as I started to pinpoint things that are making me feel down in my everyday life. While scrolling through my Instagram feed one day, I found myself getting irritated.
I was angry because I felt like I kept seeing popular models and social figures flex their accomplishments and sponsorships, and I thought two things.
- I will never be able to be/look like that person
- What have they done with their life that they can live in a house in the hills in Los Angeles at 25 years old?
It started to come into my everyday life. I would put on an outfit and say to myself "an Instagram influencer or 'stylist' wouldn't be caught dead wearing this." I tried to remind myself that I live in a frigid East Coast city where I have to dress for the 20° Polar Vortex, and I don't spend my days basking in a pool under the Los Angeles sun.
I would be at the gym and after a workout, I would say to myself "Here's to another week not looking like an Instagram fitness model."
These two things ultimately lead me to my conclusion --
I can't compare myself to others, especially when I don't know their lives or how they built their successes.
However, Instagram influencers and models are detrimental to your mental image because you compare yourself to someone who doesn't have the same life as you do.
All I can ask is … how can a 23-year old who has no job other than posting Instagram sponsorships maintain a house in the Hollywood Hills...?
From what I have seen, a lot of popular Instagram models and pages have built their brand on two things: sex and vanity.
Every other post was with their gorgeously toned bodies, and once they gained a following from these posts, they branch away from it to show the public that they are more than just a sex symbol. One influencer I follow built his whole brand off his body, he eventually stopped posting shirtless pictures and started selling bleached crop top hoodies, and another stopped posting their thirst traps and started promoting books (maybe so he looked like he was more educated than the next Instagram model, but who's to say.)
People compare their bodies to ones that Instagram models have, but these figures could have alternative ways of achieving their look.
I would look at the Instagram "influencer" who promoted books and reading after his array of shirtless selfies and took a closer look at the size of his lips and face over time. They went from normal sized, relatively attractive lips, to oversized and clearly filled with injections. This went for his skin too, perfectly clear and toned, but he spent a fortune going to different skincare places and trying new makeup products.
It's like comparing yourself to an ideology rather than looking up to somebody for who or what they are.
People compare themselves to Instagram bodybuilders, but they went through over a decade of hard work, dedication, dieting, etc. You can't be mad you don't look like Jeff Seid when you've only been going to the gym for a few weeks.
It is good to have someone to look up to, but don't look up to them and desire to be them to a point where it affects your own self-image.
If you want to go to the gym every day so you can have a body like Bella Hadid or Jeff Seid, then, by all means, work towards your goals. Don't beat yourself up if you don't have the instant gratification of looking like somebody after a few workouts, though.
This mentality goes for everything in your life; don't compare yourself to someone to where it affects your own self-image.
Instagram "influencers" are called "influencers" because that is what they intend to do, influence you into looking like them or living a lifestyle like them. How did they get that lifestyle? What did they create or what job did they book that gave them the opportunity to live a lavish lifestyle at such a young age?
After they build their brands and promote themselves, they end their winded posts about whatever with some caption that feels like "Look and live just like me, but remember, I'm just like you."