The Instagram Explore Page; The Bane of Every Girl’s Existence

We all know the feeling all too well. It’s late at night, you’re showered and in bed ready to do your final “social media lineup” before turning on your alarms for the morning and setting down your phone. You open up Instagram to see a sea of bright, colorful, happy photos, and the self doubt slowly begins to sink in. Smiles wide and bright, flawless makeup, styled hair, perfect body, trendy clothes. Traveling, concerts, beach days, friends, and boomerangs of the clinking of iced coffees, or green juices or margaritas or mimosas (or whatever the fuck they’re drinking that day, because evidently if there’s not a boomerang of it, it didn’t happen.) Regardless of what the photo displays, one thing remains constant: each photo depicts the seemingly perfect girl living the seemingly perfect life. And suddenly, without trying or oftentimes even realizing you’re doing it, you’re comparing. Why isn’t my skin as clear? My stomach as flat? My life as fun?

And then there’s the likes and the followers. The small form of validation that says, “Yes, 600 people agree, you’re pretty.” The comparison of who gets the most likes, the most followers, and has the best “following to follower ratio.” The constant state of angst as you impatiently check and refresh your own photo to see who’s engaging with it. Did your crush like your photo? Wait, did your crush like another girl’s photo? Who is that girl? Why did he like her photo and not mine? And thus, the cycle perpetuates.

The ironic part in all of this, of course, is that this world we are all so caught up in is, simply put, not real. The shot we’re analyzing is usually one of 50+ photos that were taken because the last 49 “were not the right angle,” which are then carefully edited and filtered to be posted at just the right time to optimize likes. They’re a brief glimpse of someone’s life intended to be presented in the best light possible. But that’s not real.

Now let’s be clear, I’m not shaming anyone or pretending like I haven’t found myself in this exact position, because I have. I am no stranger to feelings of self doubt, or even jealousy, and have spent a disgusting amount of time scrolling, analyzing and comparing myself. But here’s the thing, ladies, I’m fucking over it. As women we’re entered into a competition that we never agreed to compete in. Further, the things in which we’re intended to “compete” in, or made to feel insecure about, are set by societal standards that we never agreed to. Who up and decided the qualities it takes to make a girl “beautiful?” And who decided that being “beautiful” is the quality that is oftentimes most valued in a woman? Moreover, why is it that we allow the amount of likes on these pictures, oftentimes which preserve these societal standards of female beauty, to determine our self worth?

I’m only 20 years old, but one day (in the very distant future) I do hope to have a daughter. And if I ever do, I pray she is not entered into a world that is so obsessed with idealistic standards of female beauty. I pray she is not subjected, especially at a young age, to an environment designed to make her compare and doubt herself. I pray she is valued not for her looks or her likes, but for her mind and her voice.

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