A NOTE TO MY S EL FIE
Making a strong case for #nofilters.
Back in high school I was one of those “Tumblr girls”. I would stay up ‘til 3am falling so far down the rabbit hole my fingers could barely swipe their way back out. So by the time Instagram became a thing it was already second nature to me. I knew the kind of “selfies” that would easily rack up 100 likes, and was proud of it. I would spend hours carefully curating my Instagram account. I mastered the art of editing my photos so they looked flawless and effortless, like someone was following me (Kardashianstyle), taking these amazing ‘candid’ snaps of my perfect life. What everyone couldn’t see was the number of editing apps I was using, or the hours of planning and retouching that went into each post. And what I couldn’t see was that I was tearing down my own self-esteem. I spent so much time putting the edited me out into the world that I had, without meaning to, tied my self-worth to the social approval the fake me earned. There was no way the real me could feel adequate. It was like the rush of a double tap would have the same chemical reaction in my brain as drugs do for an addict – and TBH I liked it. It got to the point where I wouldn't eat foods that I knew weren't gram-worthy, I wouldn't wear outfits unless I knew they would rack up a stack of likes and I wouldn’t let my friends take photos of me on their phones because I couldn’t edit them. I was consumed by the selfesteem boost I thought the likes were giving me – but it was all just false currency. I didn’t realise this until I met my boyfriend Gus, who gave me a harsh dose of reality. Gus didn't have Instagram, he didn't care about selfies and he wasn't the kind of guy who wanted or needed anyone else’s approval – which is why I think I was so drawn to him. He could see how much control it had over my life and my confidence. He sat me down and served me up some sobering words. “You spend so much time editing your real life to portray this inspiring life you’re supposedly living, but the truth is you've stopped ACTUALLY living. You don't do anything for you, it’s all for a like on Instagram.” I knew he was right – why the hell was I so obsessed? Kim Smith, a health and wellness expert who also works as a youth mentor, confirms that the quest for perfect selfies can undermine our self-esteem. “Everyone wants their life to look good – better, happier, prettier. Seeing our life that way makes us feel good even if it’s not really what’s going on behind the scenes.” Although the rush of getting likes feels good at the time, it can make us feel insecure when we know we don’t look the same way in real life, according to Kim. “The more we try to edit our images and change the way we look, the less happy we become with the real thing – the girl in the mirror,” she explains. “This has a huge impact on our mental health. We can become unhappy, critical, insecure, judgmental, jealous, anxious and even depressed. Once we get into this cycle of not liking the way we look naturally, it can be very difficult to get out.” So, what’s the best way to build up our self-esteem without edits and heart-shaped buttons? Kim recommends compliments. When it comes to your friends – and more importantly, yourself – think of genuine compliments as glitter: sprinkle them everywhere! Kim also suggests we all jump on the “unedited image train”. “Start posting real pics of you and your friends. Encourage your friends to be happy when you post pictures of them doing everyday things and looking natural,” she says. “If your friends don’t like the images because they haven’t been able to edit them, help them to see the natural beauty in the pics. Be the one to help them feel good – eventually they will look back and love you for it.” And as for my happy ending? Well, I deleted Instagram for a while and worked on loving myself without the edits or likes. At the end of the day, all the likes in the world won’t feel as good as my boyfriend and my friends loving me for me – or even better, me loving me just the way I am.
“THE MORE WE EDIT OUR IMAGES... THE LESS HAPPY WE BECOME WITH THE REAL THING – THE GIRL IN THE MIRROR.” DID YOU KNOW… RESEARCH SHOWS THE MORE SELFIES YOU POST, THE MORE LIKELY YOU’LL HAVE CONFLICT IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP*.
This pic has been seriously edited. character, much?