The Gram had an interesting day yesterday. Apart from all the selfies from the Melbourne Cup, some food shots from hipster Sydney, and sunset shots from Perth, there was a massive revelation that sometimes, what you see on your feed is not real. And that sometimes, playing the gram game can do more harm than good for your mental health.
Don’t get me wrong, I freaking love Instagram. I ‘gram it all day long. I love being able to see into people’s lives (a little creepy I know), seeing what they love, what they hate, and how good their selfie game is. What they are holding, what they are standing on, what they are eating. But like everything that is good, sometimes a little bit of moderation is necessary. Using it as masked advertising is just a whole new ball game.
Essena O’Neill is a 19 year old Instagram celeb from the Sunshine Coast. Like most of us, she’s been riding the ‘gram wave since ~2010. She posts the usual kinda stuff; the things she loves, her friends, beach, fashion, food. Due to her social media savvy, things just got crazy. Essena was getting deals and $$$ from brands to show their stuff on her account (casually holding tea in casual wear). This has been on the rise, with internet entrepreneurs and bloggers using IG as another platform for marketing and advertising.
Essena was raking in the moolah, letting others see the perfect life she supposedly had. Innocent enough, I guess, but as the years progressed,the reasons for uploading and filtering got a little darker. Things hit a precipice when her mental health took a downturn.
The curated posting was a way to secure her worth, she explained this week; instead of celebrating and sharing her ordinary life. It became more of filtered reality, not just a photo.
We’ve all been in this place before, right? Where things have moved so fast, you stop, turn around and notice that it’s not where you wanted it to be. *Cue slow soulful music (a la Adele) to set the scene.* While this is a tough moment for anyone (silver lining alert) it’s actually kind of awesome, because you remind yourself of what you truly believe in and recommit to the kind of energy that you want to put out into the world.
Essena did just that, she posted a video on YouTube talking about her decision to be more honest, re-captioned all her posts (to share the slightly less glamorous things that went on during photo shoots) and set up a new website – talking about the things that really matter to her. Essena is passionate about body positivity, animal rights and veganism, to name just a few.
This story’s been going around the interwebs for about the past 24 hours and it says to us that other people, especially young women who feel lots of pressure to live up to certain standards of beauty, are thankful and relieved to be hearing an honest voice about how tricky it can be to maintain Instagram celebrity and a perfectly curated image.
While we’re at it, another young woman that is totally owning social media for good is Brooke, who heads up the Aussie organisation Fresh Faced Friday. FFF is all about celebrating positive body image and highlighting that when you talk positively about yourself, you feel good. It’s a pretty simple concept, but something everyone (myself included) struggles with. It’s a sweet set up where you can upload selfies, videos and host events where you celebrate the unique things that make up you. A nice antidote to the pressure of the gram.