Selfie Loathing

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).

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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.

7 thoughts on “Selfie Loathing”

  1. This is something that I know I am guilty of without even really realizing it, so this was definitely a good read for me. I think that a lot of teenage girls use Instagram as almost a fantasy-like presentation of themselves, but a lot of it is dependent on what they can do to get the most likes in order to give themselves a boost in self-esteem but when you look at it from this perspective, that is truly meaningless if you’re not actually happy with yourself.

  2. Grace, I found this article very interesting! Coming from a male perspective I never realized the subtle undertones each Instagram has. I personally don’t have an Instagram account, but I wonder if the same degradation of self-confidence occurs in males as well?

  3. I really like this post because I agree that in today’s society many girls feel like they have to compete through social media. Social media is more effective in lowering a girl’s self esteem than dolls ever have because it depicts real girls doing adventurous and fun things. In reality, a lot of these images are set up and fake but they work in a real way by hurting girls’ self confidence.

  4. Really inspiring post on Instagram and identity. When I was scrolling through the blog posts, yours popped out to me with that image of the thin, tan girl with beautiful hair and face. I then read the caption and was like yeah this is so true. Instagram truly has lasting effects on people and teenage girls in particular because posts set a standard that all girls try to reach. I know I’m guilty of this, but photos of people I see on Instagram often don’t match up with what they look like in real life. Girls post the shot that has the perfectly styled hair, an amount of cleavage that is obvious but like you didn’t realize it, and a bleach white smile. Then in reality this girl is a basketball player who doesn’t wear makeup and always wears sweats. It’s important for girls to have the opportunity to express themself and Instagram is a platform for this but it comes at the cost of losing true identity.

  5. It would not be uncommon for me to receive a text from a friend of mine asking me to like her Facebook or Instagram post, or even her sister’s posts. So I think it is interesting as it was mentioned that people look for validation of their posts by the number of likes they receive. It would also not be out of character for my same friend to delete or remove a post because it did not receive “enough” likes, which is particularly troubling. It seems to her that if other people do not like a picture or post of her’s, than neither does she and it is an embarrassment. I often actively choose not to look at who or how many people “liked” by posts because I posted it for a reason and that reason was not for the feedback or validation of others.

  6. This is such an interesting topic to look at; with social media at our fingertips all the time it is no wonder we are more unhappy with our lives. I personally don’t have an Instagram account (in part because of how I have seen it affect friends. I find it interesting that people work so hard to create the perfect post, but then look at others posts and forget that those people worked just as hard to make their life look attractive as well.

  7. This article reminds me of a pretty big story that was circling my social media this year. An Instagram famous girl named Essena O’Neill made a youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmAbwTQvWX8) talking about what went in to every picture she posted. She made a comment on one of the pictures she posted, saying that the photo (one that she had chosen from hundreds she had taken in pursuit of the perfect picture, in which she is showing off her thin, toned stomach) was the only thing that made her feel good that day. When you said that a lot of time perfect Instagram pictures can make viewers doubt themselves, I related to that. But after hearing O’Neill’s story, it put in perspective that her “performance” of identity, as you talk about, is not reflective of her reality.

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