A NOTE TO MY S EL FIE

Mak­ing a strong case for #nofil­ters.

Dolly - - Advertisment - IN­STA­GRAM ME! @_ bree­grant

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?

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