I, like many of us, am guilty of spending far too much of my day scrolling through Instagram feeds. I go on to check what my friends are up to and end up half an hour later looking at August 2013 of a complete stranger’s life. And that’s okay. However, the thing with Instagram, as with all social media to some extent, is that it only shows the good bits- the ‘highlight reel’ if you will (yes I stole that from Taylor Swift – see her wisdom below) of people and their goings on, and that makes it dangerous.
I’m all for nice filters and pretty candids, but our society has reached a point where ‘normal’ is a perfectly toned body and unlimited funds, or at least to try and appear that way to people who end up on your profile. ‘Normal’ now is pretty, size 0, rich, well-travelled, cultured, flawless. Imperfections are seen as things to be erased, to be cropped out, things which we pretend don’t exist. Likes and approval are the main order of the day, even if it means that the picture we show is a romanticised, rehearsed version of the actual image.
Iskra Lawrence is a model from Worcester in the UK who is known for her all natural, non-retouched photos and ad campaigns which encourage women to embrace their bodies rather than aspire to an impossible ideal. She calls stretch marks ‘tiger stripes’, cellulite is hailed as ‘lightening bolts’ and every photo includes a hashtag of #everyBODYisbeautiful.
Lawrence is a size 14- one size below the average clothes size of a woman in the UK (See stats). Surely then, she is ‘normal’? In fact, she is known to some as ‘plus-size’. Despite this making no sense, it is what we have come to expect. In one Instagram post, she says ‘in my teens I was called fat so many times by the fashion industry I am now numb to it’ before stating ‘I am more than a label, a size I’m one of a kind and so are you’.
Personally, I am against any form of negative judgement against a person’s body. It is their body, to do with what they will, and unless their eating habits are putting them at risk of ill health, I don’t see how it’s anybody’s business but their own. Eating disorders affect both men and women, and studies have shown that increased use of social media has direct links with disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, suggesting that the constant bombardment with images of photoshopped bodies is at least part of the problem. (Read eating disorder stats here)
Iskra Lawrence’s message is vital to the young girls of today. She is promoting strength- physical strength as an alternative to bowing to the media’s pressure and size 0 obsession, and mental strength in having the confidence in yourself to ignore people who have something unpleasant to say about you. Her response to an internet troll who called her fat? Eat some crisps, and film it.
These goals that we are setting ourselves subconsciously by scrolling through perfect, fake lives are contributing to mental health disorders, eating disorders, unhappiness. We need to take a leaf from Iskra’s book and learn to appreciate life, and our bodies, in all of their beautiful imperfection.