My kids love Instagram. They love it like a mom loves a Sunday afternoon nap, and if they ever have a chance to grab my phone, the first thing they do is hit the reels. Which, if I am being honest, I had no idea even existed.
It didn’t take long for them to start spamming me with all kinds of nonsense, and although most of them were super annoying, there were a few where I was like, “Okay, some of these are clever.”
Apparently, so is Instagram. They quickly figured out my style and started showing me only the ones I appeared to enjoy. It wasn’t long before I too was sucked into a deep hole, and a quick check of my Instagram would turn into more time than I really want to admit here scrolling through reels, watching videos of random ladies swap out outfits that I could never dream of fitting my body into, and creeping profiles of women all over the world.
Social Media Is Fun, But We Need to Be on Guard
While it seemed like harmless entertainment in the moment, I have to say, it kind of made me feel like crap.
I quickly started to resent the fact that my duvet cover didn’t match the pillows on my bed or that my front hallway has no entryway table with beautifully handcrafted figurines and woven baskets with pretty blankets in them. All of a sudden, my clothes weren’t good enough, my face was blotchy and fat, and I really (only for a second) thought about switching my family to a vegan diet.
Something had shifted in me. I had actually changed my perspective on life and the way I saw myself, and it wasn’t for the better. I started wondering why—was there something wrong with me?
Is Social Media Influencing Me More Than I Realize?
As a writer, I felt so discouraged, too. Maybe I should give up writing because people don’t even read anymore. If I want anyone to hear what I have to say, then I should just make reels … even though I am terrified of public speaking and have absolutely zero talent when it comes to being on camera. Plus, no one will watch them, and it would be so depressing when I only get five views and four of them are my Grandma.
And then I really spiraled and thought, “Maybe I should rethink my passions altogether and just forget them. I hate making videos and writing is dead, so maybe I should just take up knitting.” You see what my husband has to deal with?
Anyway, it wasn’t pretty, but eventually the dust started to settle, and I was able to find some clarity. Honestly, I think we have a problem on our hands. It’s bigger than just me, and it’s bigger than just one article, but we have to start somewhere because women deserve better. You deserve better. So here I am.
Social Media Gives Us a False Sense of Reality
We have allowed ourselves to become a society where social media holds all the power. We are constantly faced with perfection, left feeling like we can’t meet the mark. Every day we scroll through perfectly staged photos and toddlers in outfits so clean there is no way they made it 10 minutes out the door. We see perfectly pictured homes and happy marriages and moms who appear to have it all together all the time and look good while doing it.
And can I just ask why the heck we are placing baskets with pretty blankets at the front door? Like seriously? That isn’t even practical. In the real world, my toddler will come in from the rain, use her dirty hands to smash those handcrafted figurines to pieces while she pulls out the blankets, leaving them all over the muddy floor so she can sit inside the basket for fun. Seriously! Can you see where I am going here?
This even sounds ridiculous to type. But I’m telling you, I crept around and page after page after page I found “perfection.” Absolutely photoshopped, cropped and filtered perfection. Beautifully staged homes so clean you could eat off the floor, women with flawless skin and just the right amount of glow, and families so happy it could make the Camdens in 7th Heaven look bad (man, I loved that show).
What Is Social Media Teaching Our Daughters?
Then it hit me. What are we doing? What kind of world are we creating for our daughters? What kind of message are we sending them? We are supposed to be paving the way for them, creating a place where they are accepted for who they are and loved in all their differences. And yet, the only message we are sending them is that your value comes from the amount of likes you have, and true beauty can only be achieved by finding the perfect filter. Just think about that for a minute.
Don’t get me wrong and listen to me when I say this: there are some beautiful women out there that have a natural ability for fashion and makeup and all things pretty. I believe that they are called to that, and they are doing it well. The world needs them. It needs that beauty, and I want to cheer them on and say, “You go, girl!”
But the notion that we all have to have perfectly organized feeds with matching colors, expensive filters, and a high-definition camera in order to achieve the status quo is wrong. We need to be who we were made to be. We deserve to be who we are called to be.
What that means for you will be different than what it means for me, but that is the beauty of it. Women need to see other women being who they were created to be. I won’t be able to relate to everyone, and not everyone is going to like me. But someone somewhere needs my story, and they need to hear it the way I was purposed to share it. The danger lies in when we conform and think that what we have to offer isn’t important because it’s not the status quo. We hear the term “influencer” all the time. Women want to be influencers. I hate to say it, but the only people being influenced is us.
The only message we are sending our daughters is that your value comes from the amount of likes you have, and true beauty can only be achieved by finding the perfect filter.
If You Want to Be a Real Influencer, Then Live a Life of Freedom
Live a life of freedom, and don’t stand for anything less. It’s a beautiful thing when you start to understand and appreciate your own uniqueness. When you start to feel comfortable in your own skin, you let go of the weight that society has put on your shoulders.
You were created at just the right time for just the right purpose, and it’s okay if your nursery doesn’t have matching wall decor, it’s okay if you feed your kids a Happy Meal, and it’s okay to take a picture filter free. Your kids need those pictures. One day it will be all they have left of you.
When I thought about that, like really thought about it, it broke my heart. I want my daughter to have all the pictures of me she deserves. The real ones, the pretty ones, the silly ones, and the ones where my face has three chins.
She deserves to see me as I truly am: a strong woman, full of grit to face the challenges that come my way while forging forward with grace in a society that spares no casualties. She deserves to see me be brave enough to be the person I was created to be and willing to go against the grain so she doesn’t have to. She deserves to see me love myself as much as she does and to see me be willing to teach her to love herself, too.
Women want to be influencers. I hate to say it, but the only people being influenced is us.
Social Media Has Created New Injustices, But We Can Change That
It’s an injustice that women no longer feel beautiful without a filter. It’s an injustice that we resent what we don’t have instead of being grateful for what we do have. And it’s an injustice that we have been tricked into participating in it all along.
Robert Kennedy once said, “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples to build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
We can make a change. We can decide that we are going to create an environment where girls no longer feel ugly if they aren’t filtered, where they no longer draw their value from the amount of likes and comments they receive, and where they can see the women that go ahead of them being unapologetically real.
Strong Women Stand Up for Themselves and Others
I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t tempted to try to conform to the standards that society has set up for me. To sometimes feel that if I don’t do things the way others do it, I won’t succeed.
I know what it’s like to see a photo of yourself and cringe because you don’t like what you see. I know what it’s like to feel insecure about your home and to feel like you’re less worthy or less deserving than someone else. I get that more than you will ever know. But we have to decide that we’re not going to allow it anymore. That we’re going to do this for not only ourselves (because we deserve it), but for our daughters because they are watching. We owe it to them to take a stand.
Put Down the Filters and Enjoy a Real Life
If you’re looking for the pretty pictures and the perfectly put-together life, organized wardrobes and a pantry so clean you could leave the doors open when company comes over, you won’t find it here. Although I really do need to organize that pantry… But I can promise you I will always keep it real. My house is rarely clean, and I have on one (or more) occasions bribed my 2-year-old with candy to get in the car at 7 a.m.
Real life is happening here, folks, and although it’s not perfect, I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s unfiltered and messy, but it’s also full of love and joy, and there is an amazing peace that is available to you when you decide to put down the fake and the filters and start to love yourself, triple chin and all.
Can we take a stand together and decide that today we are going to affect change? That we will be more gracious with ourselves and with others and that we will no longer give social media the power to dictate who and what we are? Let’s stand together as the strong and beautiful women that we are, full of grit and grace, with the confidence to change the world and the courage to be who we were truly created to be.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Real life is happening here, unfiltered and messy, but it’s full of love and joy.
Has your social media scrolling caused you to compare yourself to other women? Watch this to learn how to love yourself just as you are…
Trying to figure out what makes you special that you can offer the world? Give a listen to this podcast episode of This Grit and Grace Life: You Have a Sparkle, Here’s How to Find It (With Former Miss USA Kristen Dalton Wolfe) – 061