instagram posts

Hyperreality and Hashtags: How to navigate Instagram without a body-image crisis

August 9, 2016

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As a platform, Instagram is great. It allows you to catch a glimpse into the worlds’ of your friends, family and those who inspire you across the globe – usually whilst you’re dossing in bed with your phone held precariously above your face, wearing last night’s makeup. Doubly, it allows you to share your own experiences (*cough* selfies *cough*) and manipulate them in a fashion that – 99/100 times – conveys your lifestyle as ‘more’ than its reality.

However, with this opportunity to curate online presences that convey an hyperreal, ‘rose-tinted’ approach to an already media-saturated society, comes an inevitable spike in low self-esteem and body-image issues. With magazines and adverts already bombarding young people with airbrushed images of unattainable perfection, the onslaught of unfathomably beautiful, often very thin girls on Instagram’s Explore function can often be too much to bear.

As someone who has struggled with body-image issues for over a decade, the Explore function had – until recently – been banished to 4am comparison sessions of blood-thirsty self-loathing, which would leave me utterly dysmorphic and disgusted with my own appearance within a matter of minutes. Friends and I would sickly revel in comparing ourselves to girls half a decade younger than ourselves, cursing them for their boyishly skinny figures, berating ourselves for not being as “thin”/”pretty”/”good at makeup” until we’d be sulking into our respective pints.

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But then, finally emerging from some self-professed chrysalis of ‘I-no-longer-give-a-fuck’, I gradually started to realise: it’s all a bunch of bullshit. People are beautiful – yes. Occasionally I will see someone in real life, have a pang of jealousy at their appearance and it will mar my confidence for a fleeting moment. However, I came to realise the frequency at which that happens in reality, is drastically less than the inescapable barrage of ‘beauty’ we encounter whilst perusing our friend the Explore function.

And why is this?

This is because Instagram isn’t real. Just looking into my own profile, I know that I spend a pathetic amount of time manipulating each post. Firstly, there’ll be the act of actually taking the ‘selfie’ (which, as we all know, is initially more like 236 selfies per ‘selfie’), which will subsequently take a good few minutes of narrowing down to about 10-15 shortlisted shots. Let’s not forget that these initial eleventy-million shots will have been taken in a number of different rooms for different lighting, and at a plethora of different angles until my back hurts from subtly jutting my collarbones out. Also, you can bet your sweet life that I don’t take any pictures of my face from head on. All about that tilt, grrrl.

Then, it’s onto my basest of loves, VSCOCAM, for some hxc editing, which is repeated for each of said 10-15 images until I find a couple I can actually get down with. One of Instagram’s built-in filters is applied to about halfway across then I’m good to go.

But, #plotspoiler: I DON’T LOOK LIKE THIS IN REAL LIFE. My skin isn’t that clear (I’ll sometimes put an amount of concealer over a spot solely for the sake of the picture, that would look ridiculous face-to-face), my face most definitely isn’t that thin and to be honest, my body isn’t THAT banging (tho’, it’s pretty damn bangin’).

This is just me. Some random fashion-loving writer girl from Instagram who spends a little time working on her pictures. I’m not a fashion blogger, or a celebrity, or an Insta-famous lady who relies on the creation of perfection in her (actual) work, so let’s just imagine the fine-tuning that goes into their snaps.

I’ve met many of the people I follow, and many fashion bloggers who I’ve first encountered on social media, through my old job in fashion – and, whilst they may all be beautiful in their own ways; they seldom make me want to wear a paper bag over my head or starve for a week, like the absolute falsehood projections of Instagram are almost always guaranteed to do. It’s just not real.

I’m a 23-year-old woman who likes to think she’s pretty in-tune with herself these days, despite my struggles with eating disorders and BDD, but imagine the internalised ideas of what ‘beauty’ has become to younger generations growing up on Instagram now…

Just please: when you find yourself in that 4am Instagram comparison pit of doom – stop. It’s not real, and until the day when we’ve all been fitted with futuristic virtual contact lenses, nobody is the walking embodiment of ‘Valencia’ in the flesh. You’re a babe, I’m a babe: we’re all babes.

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Posted by Ebony in Life

You Have Body Image Issues? But You Post So Many Selfies?

April 8, 2016

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If I had a pound for each time somebody asked me this question, I wouldn’t be claiming Universal Credit, put it that way. Assuming that you’re a frequenter of my blog, you may have happened upon a post which outlines my history of eating disorders and poor body image. If not, I would politely recommend you have a gander at the first post as this has a lot to do with the BDD I have surrounding my face shape.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been quite the ardent selfie-taker. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always vehemently despised the shape of my face. If you’re (un)lucky enough to be close to me, you may have had to endure a drunken Ebony sobbing over the fact that “no matter how skinny I get, my face will always be fat” around the 3am point of a night out (sobs, sniffs and chip breaks edited out for concision). If you’re a friend of mine on Facebook, you’ll find that the vast majority of my tagged photos are of me artfully perched next to a friend, selfie pose initiated, always the one in control of the camera – a stark lack of normal group shots or candid snaps.

For this, and the fact that I post at least one selfie to my Instagram a week, people seem to assume that I’m vain and utterly besotted with my own reflection. My exes have thought it, former frenemies have thought it, even my own mother thinks it – despite watching me physically shrink myself through my eating disorder as a teenager, in a futile bid to burn off the biological shape of my facial bone structure.

I wish this was the case. I wish that every time my nan gleefully brandished her camera and declared it family photo time, I could happily oblige without the fear of subsequently looking at the image and wanting to quite genuinely take a knife to my own jawline (or lack thereof). I wish I could be less uptight and not beat myself up for days after seeing pictures from a party, ruthlessly berating myself for not having the dainty heart-shaped faces of my friends. I wish I could let boyfriends take cute candid pictures of me without getting in a psycho tizz if I look like a glorified moon adorned in red lipstick. I wish my head would let me spend more time caring about things that actually fucking matter in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I feel like a badass bitch and I do everything in my power to internalise the fact that I have a similar face-shape to Dita Von Teese, and she’s an internationally-renowned, bonafide bloody babe. However, even on those days, let somebody pull a camera out and watch how quickly my face contorts, or how I just magically disappear altogether.

So, where do these selfies come in? If I’m such a moon-face, why am I always whoring it out across my social solar system? Why is my Instagram curated solely of my meticulously vsco-cammed pouts, some vegan meal snapshots to profess how endlessly virtuous I am, and a bunch of personally relevant quotes/poems? Am I just completely vapid and shallow?

When I take a picture of my face/body/outfit on Instagram, I’m conforming to the social media standards of externalising my life to look all refined and rose-tinted-glasses, but I’m also striving to internalise a version of myself into my own head – one that isn’t the moon-face. One that has cheekbones and an actual jawline and a face that doesn’t look like it belongs to a podgy 12-year-old. One that hasn’t led me to starve myself or self-harm because I can’t handle the ‘reality’ of it. Given the nature of BDD, whereby I haven’t the frigging foggiest as to what exactly my face-shape actually looks like in person, I tend to use images of myself as a form of body-checking which, in turn, creates an internalised ‘reality’ of what I look like mentally.

By taking all of these staged, angled and filtered up-to-the-nines pictures, and surrounding myself with them – projecting them out to the world – they become ‘me’, and I can just about handle being that ‘me’. If I lived life with the gay abandon of most people who aren’t lunatics and let people take photographs of me here/there/everywhere, I would internalise myself as this fat, satsuma-shaped mess and my self-esteem would baseline, leading to my eating disorder’s immediate resurfacing. Whether that’s what I actually look like, or not.

It may seem delusional, bizarre or just completely fucking stupid, but it’s how I get by day-to-day and it’s just one of the mechanisms I use to help myself get out of bed. If anybody can relate, in any shape or form, kindly leave me a comment or hit me up on Twitter @Ebzo, cause I’m a tad concerned that I sound insane right now. But I beg of you: nobody ask me that fucking question again…

UPDATE: Life Overhaul

August 27, 2014

You may notice that I infamously promised that I’d be back on the blogging scene sometime last month, and mysteriously vanished shortly after making such a bold claim – I apologise, but I HAVE MUCHOS NEWS. After my fight (which sometimes felt disturbingly literal) to secure a graduate job without drowning to the bottom of too many merlot bottles first, I happened to get an interview for a very exciting position on the still rather new and incredibly dynamic Web Team for Primark.com – and guess who got the flipping position as Womens/Kidswear Content Assistant? That would be me! *Insert many streamer emoticons*

So, since the 3rd August, I’ve been trying to get my head around a completely different town in a completely different part of the country: I’m now a big ol’Southerner and I live in Reading. Bit of a wander from the likes of Lancaster and Manchester that I’m used to haunting, but I’m finally starting to get my bearings and have just put down the deposit for a gorgeous studio apartment that I snapped up this morning – so all systems are go – go – go with regards to new life planning! Since I got here (less than a month ago!), I’ve already experienced some amazing times: snagging a Saturday day ticket to Reading Festival and going with a complete stranger (who turned out to be fabulaaaarse and I can’t wait to hang out with her again), a whirlwind work trip to Dublin and far, far too many bottles of red wine (happy bottles though – makes all the damn difference!).

I just thought I’d drop in and remind you all that I still know how to type and (hopefully) construct reasonably interesting posts – and will be doing far more proactive things with my blog now that I’m officially part of the fashion industry and incidentally, have developed an absolute obsession with buying new (Primark) clothes. So if you want to know anything Primark-related from hereon in; I’m your girl. Once I get settled in my new apartment (which is totally OOTD-background friendly, woo), I’m going to be setting up my tripod (wheey) and posting more fashion-focused posts, rather than my verbose ramblings. You can thank me later.

 

 It’s good to be back. xo

Get Your Vlog On: 5 Handy Vlogging Tips.

December 29, 2013

Zoella – Arguably the UK’s most successful fashion/beauty vlogger.

Vlogging – a fine way to show your pretty face and yanner on about the contents of your make-up bag to the World Wide Web. I do like the occasional mooch through bloggers’ YouTube accounts, especially anything intrusive, like ‘What’s in my Handbag?’ – but I’ve got to put it out there, I’m no vlogger at heart. Hate/despise/abhor the sound of my own voice and I’d spend the duration of the clip poring over whether my teeth looked particularly wonky that day. However, I have done a good bit of research into vlogging in my time, lest I ever brave the big(?) screen…

  • Keep It Short and Sweet

Yes, I understand that having a 30+ minute video may appear like you’ve put in a lot of effort but, on the whole, I could bet that you’re just waffling on about what you had for dinner last night by 25 minutes in: keep it snappy. In this glorious digital age of lunacy, its a rarity when someone dedicates more than 10-15 minutes of their life to watch the creations of some random Internet person, so be sure to get your point across cohesively in as short a time as is humanly possible. If your clip is ridiculously long, get editing and cut out that major tangent about next door’s pervy grandson at the Boxing Day party…

  • Consider Platforms

If the prospect of sitting in front of a camera for an elongated period of time fills you with dread, look for different methods of video production. If you’re artsy and like to think outside the box, perhaps consider creating a nifty little Instagram piece – something animated or heavily edited, if you’re that way inclined. This way, you can ensure you keep your viewers’ interest and still make sure they know exactly who you are, what you do, and how damn good you are at it.

  • Go Big or Go Home

If you’re one of those lucky famed bloggers – candy coloured hair, stick thin legs and a £1,000+ DSLR type – maintaining the image of a super cool, hip’n’happenin’ fashionista is highly important. Personally, I’m in this for the words – I don’t have the camera for taking fancy pictures, and I don’t always have much patience for leaving my bed – but, professionally-made video production could be a great option for well-known bloggers. If you’re Manchester-based like me, have a gander at this Northern Quarter company. 

  • Create a Series

Creating a series is a brilliant way to get viewers returning to your site. Make it something relevant to now: e.g. a new upcoming make-up product with different colour swatches being released over a short period of time. That way, once your viewers have checked out your first piece, they’ll be more likely to subscribe to ensure that they don’t miss out on the next instalment. Be sure to name each video with the same clause so that people know it’s the next one!

  • Think Pretty – Yes, Really

I know it’s lame as hell, but us fashion/beauty blogging lot – we’re big fans of all things aesthetically pleasing, so make sure that your videos are all-singing, all-dancing super edited masterpieces. The most successful V-loggers out there use all sorts of fades and effects to make their videos stand out from the rest, so be sure to do some homework before you just throw any old thing at YouTube. Remember, whatever you post in connection with your blog will represent you: don’t do a shoddy job!

4 ‘Easy’ Ways To Channel Miley Cyrus.

December 11, 2013

Crowned here, there and everywhere as the ‘(T)IT’ girl of 2013, Miley Cyrus has been adorning our screens with her effortlessly tasteful garbs all year long now. Boys want to bang her, so naturally girls want to therefore emulate her, or jealously throw her to the hills – personally, I’d like to give her a good wake up call and tell her to stop giving us fellow early 20-somethings a bad name. I mean, despite being a whole 6 months younger than good ol’Miles, I’ve managed to get through most of my twentieth year without a) taking my top off for a ‘photographer’ who’s blatantly a pervert and allegedly a rapist b) wearing clothes that cover only around 5% of my body’s surface area c) flowering my Twitter/Instagram account with queerly hip-hop rapper-esque shit like “wit” “ting” and anything else that will probably end up in the dictionary alongside “selfie”, the way we’re headed.

So today, I thought, in the nature of my fashion-related blog, I’d create a little run-down of how to channel the little starlet:

  • Expose as much of your pubic region/hip region as is humanly possible without betraying the whereabouts of your g-spot.

For best results, ensure that you have underwear tan lines – not because you don’t tan properly – oh no, simply because we want people to see quite how tiny and risqué your underwear is – y’know, when you’re actually wearing it. You’re so sexually liberated! My favourite thing about this look is the covetable, world’s-most-confused-feminist Miley appearance it creates, eerily akin to every little girl’s first love: the Ken doll. Not content with being barely dressed with our blatantly feminine arses out, it’s now seemingly cool to show off that bizarre bit where thigh meets pelvis. Sexy. OH yeah, and again – ensure that any photographs taken of you in said loin cloth are taken by an infamously well-known pervert (hiya Terry Richardson, yeah I do mean you).

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Ebony. 25. Manchester.
Marketing Manager who likes to mouth off on here about stuff she cares about. Expect mental health, Borderline Personality Disorder, and reviews - from restaurants, to books, to fashion. Talks to cats more than people, but seemingly has a lot to say.
ebonylaurenn@gmail.com