Gemma Styles: 'Why Your Perfect Instagram Is A Big Fat Lie'
The Debrief: Why does my hair look better in Crema than Hudson on Thursday?!
Photographed by Matilda Hill-Jenkins
With every Tom, Dick and Harry building their personal ‘brand’ online, a perfectly manicured Instagram account has become this decade’s must-have. Brunch is not brunch until it’s artfully arranged, perfectly lit and shot from above.
I wish I was one of the cool people with a cool Instagram – I just can’t commit. More commonly, the artistically minded will theme or structure their accounts so they’re pixel perfect – I follow someone who seemingly only experiences the world in blue, white and grey. Don’t get me wrong, it looks really good… but I can’t be bothered. On a platform where all images are square it’s now cooler to add white borders to everything. I miss the old days where this just meant two stripes down the sides to avoid cropping a good composition. Arty progress apparently now means plonking your image down anywhere randomly in a sea of white square. Fight the power. I think I’m missing something to be honest.
I’ve thought about trying it. Maybe I could do a standard border or always use the same filter. But what if my hair looks better in Crema than Hudson on Thursday? All black and white? WHAT IF I SEE A RAINBOW? Am I going to dilute my joy with worrying about disrupting my theme? Nah.
But this week I have a very specific Insta dilema. I have become an obsessed parent. A tiny feline named Olivia Pope has set up camp in my flat (#adoptdontbuy) and my camera roll doesn’t know what’s hit it. I’m trying hard to keep a check on myself. I never tire of watching her fake-murder a piece of fluff on a stick but I’m pretty sure it’s not so entertaining for anyone who follows me to see five incarnations of the same picture one after the other. New respect for actual parents of humans who manage to avoid total baby-spam. (Side note app recommendation for mums: Tinybeans. Really cute and v useful for avoiding the above.)
I hope the redeeming quality of my Instagram is its honesty? I’m not a photographer and I share images of the things I actually do and actually care about. Other people’s dogs and children... Should probably update my bio to include little OP. Something that worries me about social media is it’s impact on mental health. If you’re feeling down on yourself, or lonely, or sad, it might feel a little isolating to watch a continuous stream of people enjoying their barbeques and birthday parties, breakfasts and baby showers – or posting belfies. The thing to remember is, people rarely post the bad stuff, even though we all have it. The Insta-famous that you see might spend a lot of time standing on street corners in great outfits or drinking bellinis in fancy bars – but sometimes they’ve drank far too much, got a massive spot and are sat watching Friends with Sudocrem on their faces. They sure as hell aren’t going to show you.
I’m not saying we should all start Instagramming the shit bits of our lives. Next time I feel shit and have a bit of a cry I’m probably not going to selfie it for the real talk. But spoiler – it happens. And it works both ways - one thing I liked doing was the #100happydays challenge. Basically for 100 days you post once a day about something that has made you happy. It might sound a bit cringe but it’s been shown to actually help people have a more positive outlook – by forcing you to focus on something positive each day, even if it’s the pleasure of actually finding matching socks for once, you can impact your frame of mind. Which is pretty great.
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Follow Gemma on Twitter: @GemmaAnnStyles
Photographed by Matilda Hill-Jenkins
With thanks to Airbnb
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