We are all guilty of it. You open Instagram and spend a half an hour ogling over that fashion blogger’s profile—inspecting every perfect outfit, sexy husband pic, and pristine house video. You scour the lines of stunning photos on Pinterest dreaming of the DIY banners and pots and framed art you’ll put in your house just like the perfectly arranged ones there. On Facebook you gather around the spotlights of people who just scored a dream internship, jetted off to a new island with their significant other, or recently was promoted to a higher rank than you. On tumblr you rack your brain on how you can be funnier, more artistic, more photogenic. It’s embarrassing the amount of hours we all spend on VSCO and Lightroom trying to make a photo not only appease our aesthetic, but the aesthetic everyone else wants from you. We start losing grasp of ourselves; unable to recognize who we actually are when we look in the mirror. And the whole time you can’t help but wonder—how come your life doesn’t look like that?
It’s become an art form, comparing. It’s a flux and flow of finding what we like, what we don’t have, and erratically searching for ways to get it. And when we finally have “it,” or close to it, the cycle starts again. It’s an odd concept; we all know that social media are curated, constructed, Photoshopped, and perfected. So why do we view someone else’s highlight reel as an everyday reality? And why do we so heavily compare the parts of ourselves that we lack confidence in to those highlight reels?
It’s hard to beat it. Many of us are storming head first into industries that require us to be a constant spectator and showstopper on the web. So what can we do to fix it? I think it needs to start with inclusion and insightfulness. Inclusion can range from showing your audience your flaws and imperfections to urging the media or creating your own media that includes all women. So many of the images we view and digest on a daily basis are thin white, tall, and tan models flaunting their “perfection” around the world, wearing every to-die-for trend, and living the life you consider to be ideal. It’s completely acceptable to showcase all of this, but it’s essential we have equal representation of all races, sexualities, and sizes. If everyone has a positive image to relate to that makes them feel empowered, comparison can be stomped out quickly.
Insightfulness is checking in with yourself, acknowledging other women’s accomplishments, and still being proud of your capabilities. It is also being able to recognize the twisted reality we get from apps like Instagram and Pinterest, and knowing that we don’t have to resemble that. Be proud of your friends, send them empowering texts and comments, admire people, but don’t let the adoration you have for others make you feel low. It’s so hard to do, but such an important aspect of keeping a healthy self-esteem. Someone else’s beauty, intelligence, and success does not diminish yours. While I’m not going to give up editing photos and enjoying aesthetically pleasing art and social media posts, I will give up the idea that my life has to reflect this, and that I have to conform to unrealistic standards. I strongly urge you, love, to do the same.