Pressure to be perfect on instagram can be intense. Having a well curated feed filled with beautiful images and positive messages gets likes and followers. And for many of us, this is also how we promote our work aka make a living. As an artist, Instagram has been a valuable tool for promoting and selling my artwork. Yay! But I also wonder about the downsides.
The other day I posted on instagram that I was going through a tough time personally. This was a departure from my usual MO of posting pics of my artwork, beautiful interiors and the occasional personal shot (carefully curated of course) along with upbeat positive vibes. I got a few sympathetic comments on the post but otherwise as you can well imagine the number of likes was quite low. So it got me wondering about perfection and the quest for likes.
I’ve certainly noticed my instagram feed change since I started in 2013. I use to post a lot more photos of what inspired my creative process. Images like worn and weathered buildings, peeling paint and other wabi sabi things but over time I could see that pictures of beautiful interiors did way better and so I pretty much stopped posting them. I also don’t post many pictures of myself - often intimidated by the ubiquity of young pretty instagramers out there. I don’t want people to know I’m over 40 (oops) I did recently start posting images of myself but only after I had hired a professional photographer. I’m pleased with the results but I noticed that the photographs had been photoshopped to smooth out the wrinkles on my forehead. I still don’t know how I feel about that. I’m just as vain as the next person but this also seems to do a huge disservice to myself and women in general. After all god willing every one of you and me will reach 40 and beyond so why not celebrate female beauty in all forms? I earned those wrinkles. That’s 40 years of thinking hard about all kinds of shit.
women are taking a closer look at their power and starting to question the very narrow fiew of what's beautiful
But perhaps we are starting to witness a shift. In small and potentially big ways. With things like #metoo and #timesup women are taking a closer look at their power and starting to question the very narrow view of what’s beautiful and valued in our society. I’m encouraged by bloggers and instagrammers like Lauren McPhillips @thisrenegadelove who has recently been posting images proudly showing off her body that looks like the 98% of us non-models. It’s about damn time we see images of wibbly bits and belly rolls. Check out a recent NYTimes article that lists a bunch of female empowering instagrammers showing a different view of femininity. And as a woman who is no longer in the cultural sweet spot of her mid 20’s I’m also encouraged by a lot more ad campaigns featuring older women. Go Helen Miren! It’s seeing images like these that gives me strength and courage to look at myself differently. It’s helping me see myself with fresh eyes. The years of experience and wisdom, the struggle to find my life’s purpose, my strong legs that have powered me through 100 mile bike rides and my slightly flabby but capable arms that hold me in plank pose. I look pretty damn good (and no stupid qualifier required “for my age”)
So all this to say will I be changing what I post on instagram? In small but not insignificant ways, yes. I will keep true to who I am and not be afraid to reveal not only the inspiring and beautiful but I hope to also share the challenges and struggles that make any full life worth living.