“I see a lot of young people… scrolling through Instagram, and it’s frightening because there is a very false sense of what beauty ‘should be’.”
– Pauline Ng | Founder of Porcelain
We all love Instagram and the pretty things it shows us. Scroll, like, scroll, like — scroll like there’s no end to the perfect blue skies (insert clichéd descriptive phrases we used to regurgitate onto our lined papers as English students) others are lying under. Turquoise waters, snowcapped mountains, bikini-clad beach babes, sunkissed surfer dudes, lavish candlelit dinners. The grandeur in others’ lives. Where does it end?
Last week, we took things off the usual track in our latest #DearPauline column with Anita Kapoor. An afternoon of real, unapologetic sharing, while nestled in Porcelain Origin’s plush velvet couch. Instead of focusing purely on physical skincare woes, we had an honest, realistic conversation on beauty, selling hope instead of fear, and other *ahem* Instagrammable quotes.
INSTAGRAM — IT’S NOT INSTANT.
The original meaning of “Instagram” was instant telegram. Meant to be an instantaneous visual record of a precise moment, it’s now become a “shoot-shoot-again-edit-filter-post-20-minutes-later” kind of thing.
And now, with thousands of apps in the market that can do anything to your photos? Whether it’s changing your hairstyle or lip colour or granting access to 10,000 more filters than Instagram currently offers, it’s hard to remember the initial intent of Instagram. What began as a very real medium has now become something that churns out embellished, altered replicas of original, in-the-moment photos.
“You are not an Instagram post, or a 2-D image. You’re unique — breath, skin, bones, thoughts and feelings.”
– Anita Kapoor | Host, emcee, performer
INSTAGRAM — COMPARE AND DESPAIR?
It’s a very real problem when we scroll through unreal photos and begin comparing ourselves to “them”.
Like many of you, I’m following a ton of friends, strangers, KOLs and celebrities on Instagram. At least ¾ of my feed is teeming with women with unabashedly toned arms / thighs / abs, friends floating in Iceland’s iconic Blue Lagoon, lovers touring Santorini’s beautiful whitewashed villages and … people simply enjoying the best of what life has to offer.
Before you know it, “Why am I like this and not like that? Why am I here and not there? Why am I not her?” thoughts appear. I’m no stranger to the comparison game. But being a very sane, very logical person, I shut my phone once this toxicity enters my brain.
In many cases (especially for women), the most hard-hitting is when they begin comparing their appearances to others’. It seems superficial but the (negative) impact that Instagram and other visually-based social media have on young people is very real.
“It’s interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing – both platforms are very image-focused, and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”
– Shirley Cramer | Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH)
Research has found that Instagram creates insecurity and social pressure around how you “should” look, feel, eat, dress, feel… A study by the University of Buffalo also suggested that women who establish their self-worth on their looks are likely to post more photos of themselves in seeking validation.
PAUSE. BREATHE. BE AWARE.
We all know that people tend to show their best sides. We also know that Instagram is a highly-curated platform, and often fail to remember that. While we’re ooh-ing over overs’ lives and wishing we were leading the same, we forget to scroll with a pinch of salt. Scroll “rationally”, if you will.
The honest truth is, they could be posting a photo of their champagne parties but not their hangovers. She could have uploaded a shot of her like-worthy OOTD but not the million (possibly ugly) takes before that. He could have taken a panoramic of the mountain he’s just topped but not the familial death that spurred him up there in the first place.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”
– Steve Furtick
If nothing else, whenever you’re in a bad place after this pretty place called Instagram, remember that. If you’re starting to question and compare yourself to X (especially a stranger), know you are allowing someone you’d never met to question your appearance, achievements, and person.
When you’ve fully internalized that, take a step back, and relook at Instagram again.
BECAUSE INSTAGRAM IS STILL A BEAUTIFUL PLACE.
Honestly? I’ll probably never quit Instagram. It’s great for keeping in touch with family, close friends and friends who’d moved miles away from you. It’s great as an inspirational tool and it’s great for seeing non-stop ads.
Just stay in a good place,
WAIT, WHAT’S #DEARPAULINE?
Think “Aunt Agony”, except “#DearPauline” is our personal beauty column! Like our #BareWithMe campaign, in collaboration with the amazing Wear Oh Where, we meet different women from all walks of life to talk skin. Our first instalment of #DearPauline (with Hanli Hoefer) is up now.