5 Reasons You Should Stop Comparing Yourself To Strangers On Instagram
We’ve all been there. You’re having a good hair day, are rocking your favourite dress or have just smashed a tough workout — and you’re feeling pretty damn bomb.
Then, you scroll through your Instagram feed. You come across an image (or 12) of a perfectly tanned, toned Instagram model on a tropical island; baring her pearly white in a ‘candid’ laugh, with her long blonde ‘effortlessly’ cascading down her back. All of a sudden, your hair seems messy, your dress looks stupid and your gym gains feel minuscule. You find yourself in a shame spiral, scrolling and scrolling and wondering why you can’t just look ‘those’ girls.
Yep, the social media comparison trap is real and it’s SO much worse than anything we ever dealt with when magazines were the main source of entertainment media. The problem (well, apart from it being in our faces ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME) is that unlike the models on the covers of magazines, these influencers are ‘real people.’ So, we ask ourselves, why shouldn’t we look like them? Surely life would be perfect, if we could just look like ‘that.’
Well, as someone who has been a part of that world (albeit, kind of on the peripheral) I’m about to tell you EXACTLY why you should stop comparing yourself to strangers on Instagram.
1. Because you never know what’s going on in their life
Those strangers on Instagram are just that — strangers. They may project a perfect life filled with shredded abs, island holidays and #couplegoals. But at the end of the day, we don’t know them so we don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. That influencer may dealing with the loss of a loved one, a relationship breakdown or even an eating disorder. Model Alexis Ren (who has over 11 million followers) has revealed that not too long ago, she was dealing with all three. Belle Lucia (who is so stunning she doesn’t even look real) recently opened up about her struggles with severe acne. Victoria’s Secret models Bridget Malcolm and Nina Agdal have both recently spoken out about being told they were ‘too fat’ to model. Just remember, you never know what’s going on behind the scenes and that these influencers may desperately wish they had something you have.
2. Because it’s not reality
Deep down, we all know this — but when the shame spiral rears its ugly head, that logic goes out the window. Whenever I start to fall into the social media comparison trap, my partner reminds me that those girls don’t even look like that. And he would know — he used to work in the art department at one of the world’s biggest mens magazines. The stories he’s told me about the work that goes into making women look ‘perfect’ blows my mind.
As mentioned before, we tend to think that the images we see on Instagram are ‘real’ because they’re not the airbrushed covers on magazines. But these influencers still have a plethora of tools at their disposal that they can use to improve how they look (fake tan, cosmetic enhancements, posing, lighting, editing tools) and you better believe they use them. Oh, and those thousands of likes and comments? They may not be real, either. With all the apps and engagement pods out there, you’d be surprised by how many influencers fake their following. Of course, there are still plenty of genuine influencers out there, but just be sure to take everything with a grain of salt.
3. Because their beauty doesn’t detract from yours
“Flowers are pretty, but so are fairy lights — and they look nothing alike.” This is one of my favourite quotes and is very relevant here. Just because you think someone who is tanned, slim and brunette is gorgeous and you’re pale and curvy with red hair, doesn’t mean you’re any less gorgeous. To use yet another quote, “You can be the juiciest peach in the world, but you’ll still find people who don’t like peaches.” In other words, beauty really is in the eye of the beholder and different people find different looks appealing. So, learn to accept the things you can’t change, work on changing the things you can if it’ll make you happier and find someone who loves you for all of the above — and more.
4. Because looking like that won’t make you happy
As sad as it is, some of the most traditionally ‘beautiful’ people I’ve met are actually some of the unhappiest. On the flip side, some people who are a little larger than society’s narrow view of ‘perfect’ (although, that is slowly changing) are some of the happiest, most confident and vibrant. It goes to show that ‘happy’ isn’t something you automatically achieve when you hit a certain weight, body fat percentage of Instagram followers. It sounds cliched, but it truly comes from within. When you’re truly happy and content, you’ll be that way regardless of any ebbs and flows with your weight, bad haircuts or acne breakouts.
Another thing that’s important to remember is what it takes to look like many of these influencers. In most cases, it requires a huge amount of dedication, restriction and missing out on social occasions. This is something that Steph Claire Smith (an example of an influencer who sets an amazing example for young women) has spoken out about. While for a short amount of time it may be worth it, it’s definitely not worth it for everyone.
You can read more about why losing weight may not necessarily make you happy here.
5. Because beauty fades
Yes, this is something you’ve probably heard your mum/grandma/other relatives with life experience say a billion times. But it’s SO true! When you’re 95 years old and reflecting back on your life, do you want you biggest achievement to be ‘lots of people liked photos of my butt on Instagram’? Of course not! You want to have lived a life of substance, joy and fulfilling relationships. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with being an Instagram model — it’s great work if you can make money from it. But it’s definitely fleeting — there’s always a new crop of 18-year-old influencers ready to take your place. So, instead of wondering why you can’t look like those girls, think about how you’re going to use your unique skills to make your own mark on the world.
So, now you know WHY you should stop comparing yourself to strangers on Instagram. But sometimes, it’s easier said than done. How exactly do you do it? By unfollowing those accounts that make you feel like anything less than the goddess you are! Want more content that uplifts, inspires and motivates you? Sign up for the A Girl In Progress newsletter here to have the latest inspiring health, life and career advice, delivered straight to your inbox.
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