This one may not be directly style-related, but is a message that I feel is incredibly important to share in 2019.
Over the last year, I’ve been a “style blogger”. Not a REAL one. Just one that enjoys sharing tips and outfit ideas in my spare time. I’m not even that good with technology. I’m literally learning as I go. I, too, look for inspiration for photo, article and outfit ideas. Naturally, I’ve started following more bloggers and influencers to help with this. This has really opened my eyes to what I feel will be (and already is) one of the biggest challenges of our future: an unrealistic view of people’s appearances and lives… and sadly, the depression, anxiety, loneliness, and lowered self-esteem that accompanies these.
Social media and the blogosphere are likely here to stay. If we are going to play on this playground, we MUST adopt a lens when looking at ALL of these images that flood our minds daily. We MUST remind ourselves that the photos we’re seeing are NOT representative of typical daily living. The Instagram page of whomever we’re following is their BEST portfolio. The best of the best. We MUST NOT compare ourselves to others.
WHAT EXACTLY DO I “EDIT”?
I’ll absolutely come clean that I am VERY selective with what I share. I don’t try to make my life look “perfect” by any means… but I’m a very private person (you’d be surprised). I rarely share publicly our biggest struggles or family challenges. To me, that’s private. But PLEASE don’t think they are not there.
You won’t see many photos taken in my house. Why? BECAUSE IT’S A FREAKING DISASTER. I have four boys. There are matchbox cars everywhere you step. There is a craft bin that is constantly vomiting construction paper and activity books. When I do finally find a clean corner or angle, there is chipped paint or better yet… a self-portrait sketched onto the wall by my two-year old when I wasn’t looking. I can assure you that my house and kitchen look NOTHING like those of most bloggers that I follow.
In addition, I’d rather not share the photos that highlight my stretched out post-partum belly or showcase my giant varicose vein. Although I avoid stamping them into cyberspace, it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.
Someone who follows me came up to David and I last year and said, “you’re so photogenic!” We died laughing. We laughed because WE know just how many photos we take before we get a good one. Sometimes there is an outfit that I can’t wait to share and that looks great! He’ll take 20 photos, and not even one is good. Guess what? It never makes the cut. I probably post about .01% of what we take. Now these are MY edits… what happens in MY “fake” style blogger life.
WHAT ABOUT “REAL” INFLUENCERS?
How about what is happening “behind the scenes” of some of these major influencers’ sites? I feel obligated to remind you (especially my younger readers) that it is often not the life that you or I know. Many of these girls may have left their children with a nanny and started their day with a personal trainer. Many stopped for a quick spray tan, which always helps them to look slimmer and more photogenic. When they arrive home, they may be met by a glam squad. They may spend two hours getting blowouts, hair, nails and makeup done. Their amazing makeup selection was likely provided to them free of charge. Many grab a quick and healthy meal that was delivered to their home to help them stay “picture perfect” and to be featured on their sites. Many have one or a team of photographers that step in when they’re ready. All this time, their children may have been screaming and overtired. When calm, the nanny may place the child in the set, exit stage left, and allow for the perfect, happy, family shot, where they are squeezing fresh OJ in the most gorgeous kitchen I have ever seen.
THE POST-PARTUM PITFALL
One group of women who feel tremendous pressure as a result of these unrealistic expectations are women in their post-partum months. Here’s how it happens: you have this amazing baby. You’re elated, but exhausted. The sleepless nights bring heightened emotions and often, a bit of post-partum depression. The home-based days and nights often result in more “scrolling” than usual. You’re likely following some “influencers” who are in the same phase of life as you are. However, you SURELY don’t look like them. Why are YOU having such a hard time? Take all that potential “behind the scenes” help I mentioned earlier and add another element: add the fact that these women may have had a little surgical help immediately following the birth of their child. Add the fact that they may have night nurses who are allowing them to get GREAT sleep. Then add cosmetic procedures and skin treatments that may be causing them to look MUCH more awake than you. I can speak from a LOT of experience… looking and feeling “back to normal” after a baby is a long road, and the “normal” is a new normal. ANYONE suggesting otherwise is not being truthful.
PROCEEDING WITH CAUTION
I’m not suggesting that every woman you follow has all of this help at her fingertips. I’m simply asking you to consider these “could be’s” if you’re active on any social media. According to mental health professionals, the increase in social media use is expected to continue to cause increases in depression rates. If you EVER start feeling down and find yourself comparing yourself to a “friend” or influencer’s “best of the best” portfolio, remember my words. Remember that EVERYONE is struggling with something, no matter what it may look like. Or better yet… maybe it’s time to take a break from scrolling. It’s time to have that long, overdue conversation with a friend or family member. Because there is no group chat, instant message or text exchange that will EVER even come close to the genuine happiness that comes with a REAL chat. Like the good old-fashion face-to-face kind. I’ll bet you a million photo “likes” that you’ll agree.