Instagram, lies, & airbrushed thighs

Instagram, lies, & airbrushed thighs

Words by Shannon Valentine

I don’t want my little sister and her friends wondering why their lips aren't as full as mine and why they don’t have thick eyebrows and long lashes, because all of that stuff on me isn’t real.

My generation is lucky enough to have the best of both worlds. We might’ve been addicted to sending love hearts on Bebo and posing with peace signs on our LG KS360’s, but when we went out with our mates our phone internet wouldn’t last longer than five minutes before it started charging our parents money, let alone the fact Google would barely load.

We had an escape from the constant competition of whose holiday looked more amazing, and how much nicer Shelly’s nails look compared to Jane’s. Airbrushing was something only Cosmopolitan magazine used, the closest we got to it was brightening our teeth on free web apps such as Picnik.

I know that as technology advances, so does the modern movement of the world, but we still had enough of it at our fingertips without it having such a huge effect on us. Are social influencers to blame? I have to wonder whether that’s the case since social media is full to the brim of young adults searching for fame through blogging/vlogging.

Instagram filters are now shunned as tacky, and unless your pictures are aesthetically pleasing and of high quality, you’re wasting your time uploading anything at all it seems. Each group photograph must be approved by all five members of your friendship group and you best believe they are all editing their own version for approval. Although most wouldn’t like to admit, we are trying to compete with the big dogs for those all-important likes.

Whatever happened to taking a silly snap in our Hollister hoodies and scraped back hair at the local community centre? Those were the kind that would be uploaded without a second thought! You would still get the same ‘Gorgeous babe xxx’ comment regardless.

I see young girls and boys dreaming of living the life of their favourite Youtuber, and when you ask them what they wish to be when they grow up, that is the only answer you’ll get.

I am guilty, too. Even more guilty than those young kids because they at least have an excuse, they don’t know any different. I lived a good 15 years of my life without the likes of Instagram, yet here I am increasing the warmth of a picture so I look more tan and smoothing the cellulite from my thighs.  

Smoothing something in a photograph does not remove it from real life - this is something I am desperately trying to tell myself everytime I open that Airbrush app. I do not need to live a lie because I am loved the way I am. Perfectly imperfect. I do not need to be put on a pedestal to feel any more worthy than the next person.

Here’s the thing. A few months ago I made quite an important decision to change the way I look with lip fillers. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Am I a hypocrite? I don’t think so - I had the procedure done because it was something I wanted for years and now I feel more confident than ever. I have never experienced self-love like this before. Then again, if I hadn’t seen Kylie Jenner rock hers on social media, would I have got lip fillers? I don’t think it would’ve ever crossed my mind.

Never lose who you are on the inside because your unique personality will always shine brighter than that edited Picnik grin.

I often find myself comparing not only my features but the type of lifestyle I live to others online. But, just because I don’t have lash extensions or the latest Gucci handbag, does that really make me any less of a person? We see these people posing with luxury items in stunning visuals, but we have no idea what their life is truly like when the camera is turned off.

I wish for nothing more than for the humans of today to stop comparing themselves to online influencers. Their lives are not as luxury as they might seem. It took them 50 takes for that beautiful picture of them in that restaurant, and now their food has gone cold, but hey, the picture got a lot of likes right? Kylie Jenner struggled with her insecurities for years before she plunged into the world of plastic surgery. She probably felt just as low comparing herself to her sisters as I did comparing myself to her.

At the end of the day, the people who you love and want in your life will see you in person. They will experience the real you so you might as well share your true, unfiltered self. I recently started a confidence campaign so that young people can feel comfortable in themselves. I quickly realised that the pictures of me with a full face of glam I would upload alongside those ‘Self Love’ blogs simply wouldn’t cut it.

I was not sending the right message. I felt like I was selling a false product, because I was telling others to love themselves when I couldn’t even share my true authentic self in the first place. I am glad I did it, they gave me my own personal confidence boost but the mass of likes did not satisfy me. I didn’t do it for that, I wanted people to take in the meaningful words from my blog and truly listen, but how could they listen to me spout on about self-love when I'm allowing people to look up to my unrealistic standards of makeup and lip fillers.

I wanted my words to reign true, so I also had some other photographs taken, this time with no makeup and no editing. I don’t want my little sister and her friends wondering why their lips aren't as full as mine and why they don’t have thick eyebrows and long lashes, because all of that stuff on me isn’t real.

While I am not an incredibly known influencer, I have a group of supporters who look up to me and read my blogs religiously. I have a responsibility to those people who are listening to me and because of that I want to make sure I acknowledge the ins and outs of my life, no secrets, and that especially includes having something like my lips done.

It is sad that a lot of this generation feels like they have to do these things in order to fit in, but doing something for yourself and your own confidence are very different. I guess what I am trying to say is if you want to alter your appearance or pop a filter on your latest selfie, make sure it’s for you and not just so you can keep up with the expectations of Instagram.

You own your body and have every say in what you do with it. Changing something about your appearance or buying expensive things doesn’t make you weak, as long as it is not a matter of ticking off guidelines and expectations.

It is very likely that I will continue to get lip fillers and highlight my best features on the Afterlight app because that's what makes me feel personally confident, but I’m going to be more honest about it. The most important thing to remember in the world of social media is that authenticity is key. Never lose who you are on the inside because your unique personality will always shine brighter than that edited Picnik grin.

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