Social Media has become the center of many young women’s lives. In particular Instagram has been on the rise with young women. 53% of Internet-using adults aged 18-29 are on Instagram (Duggan et al.)
And 76% of American teenagers use Instagram, making it their favorite social media platform (Blaszczak-Boxe).
On Instagram there is this focus on one picture, this picture has to have the perfect filter, the perfect caption. This is to show your followers that you are having a great time with your friends, an amazing vacation, having the most delicious brunch ever, or that your make-up and hair looked perfect that day. People, and girls in particular feel like they need to put this image of themselves for their followers to see. They edit it, and caption it as self-expression. But what often happens is that when other girls are looking at this perfect picture of someone, they start to doubt themselves, and feel like they aren’t pretty enough, or having a fun enough time with their friends and they start to self-loathe and feel jealous.
In a Cosmopolitan article, 15 college-aged girls share quotes about what Instagram has done to their self-image. These girls experienced a range of emotions, they felt insecure, pressure to look better and get more likes, jealous, and anxious. The different experiences of these girls are eye-opening to how girls subconsciously think about the photos they look at or post on Instagram. Katie expressed her thoughts and said, “For me, Instagram creates a false sense of identity. I feel like it’s a platform to promote an ideal, unrealistic lifestyle. We are constantly looking for validation from social media that honestly doesn’t mean anything. Looking at so many flawless, perfect pictures has lowered my self-esteem and promoted insecurity. Not only with appearance and body image, but financially, socially, and emotionally, everyone seems perfect. It has made me self-conscious in more ways than I realize” (Tullo).
Identity has many components and as discussed in Keywords for Children’s Literature, “Identity has become more of an outward show seeking recognition and uptake.” (Coats 110). It is crazy to think that people’s perceptions of others identity can be completely formed by what their Instagram profile depicts. In the 2014 film, Annie, Annie projects her identity in a certain way. Annie’s identity consists of her being African-American, a foster kid and being 10 years old. But a part of her identity that is projected, is that she hides the fact that she can’t read. Annie puts on a brave face and an “outward show” and doesn’t let anyone know she can’t read. At the beginning of the film, she gives a presentation, and the teacher asks Annie if she has it written down, but Annie doesn’t have it written down because she can’t read it. Annie projects herself as being strong and brave, and so people believed she was just brave, and didn’t realize what was going on inside. This sense of identity is demonstrated through Instagram profiles and the fact that many girls paint a picture of their identity on their profiles, so people perceive them to be a certain way. The quotes from the college-aged girls are proof that Instagram has an effect on self-identity of young women, and how other young women perceive others’ identity. Identity is seen as a performance, and Instagram is the perfect outlet for young girls to project a certain identity.