I only got on Instagram two years ago, before everyday Instagram models really became a thing. A couple of years before then, I was asked by one of my friends whether or not I had an account, because "Instagram is amazing," or so she said. Despite my initial skepticism, I totally comprehend her words now. We're only five years into the world that Instagram created in 2010, but the popular social media app has very literally changed our culture in that time.
We all know that average people can become online phenomenons through the world of social media, be it by utilizing YouTube, Twitter, or Instagram. And hashtags can very genuinely spark international movements and campaigns that positively affect the way we see the world. But there's also a lot of thought placed upon the selfie effect, and whether this kind of continual self-portraiture is a good or a bad thing for Millennials and Gen Z-ers — whether being so conscious of what we look like has any merit. So I'd like to share a positive spin on that argument.
Personally, I'm astounded at the quality of photos that pop up on my Instagram feed. Most of the time — after I've taken a moment to scan the newest images from those I follow — I come away thinking, "Gosh, I have such beautiful friends." And that's undoubtedly been a really great thing.
In all honesty, I consider myself something of a confident woman who isn't pining for attention or trying to compete with anyone, so the above statement is simply my appreciating the beauty of all the people I follow. I realize, though, that such a statement might have a different feel to it if uttered by a person who doesn't quite feel like they "measure up" to those around them. Every human goes through a phase of trying to figure out their worth, though, and that would be the case with or without Instagram.
I like to think that the current trends of portraiture on Instagram posts encourage us to realize that we all are beautiful. That we don't have to have a contract as a professional model to display through our photography the beauty that we possess.
Instagram has easily made fashion and photography more accessible interests and hobbies to us as well. Hashtags like #ootd (outfit of the day), #livefolk, and #thatsdarling display millions of photos taken by people all of over the world who possess their own unique style and creativity. I know I've certainly been influenced in both fashion and photography through Instagram.
People are interested in being seen, and in having that influence over other's lives. And that should be an amazing thing. It's the absolute worst when someone is hiding who they are — their gifts, talents, and even their looks — in the name of humility. But IMO, what some call humility is really just insecurity. (And hey, if you're just not into Instagram or other ways of displaying yourself to the world, that's OK, too. I'm not saying everyone who doesn't do Instagram is insecure.) I love the fact that our being so conscious of ourselves and others has encouraged us to put ourselves out there — to actually allow people to marvel at the beauty that is us — despite (and in celebration of) our many differences.
I know I can post beautiful pictures of mountains, flowers, or other outdoor landscapes, but most often, my most liked posts are my selfies or pictures with me in them — posts that have to do with my life. Does that make us a vain, surface-level generation? Not at all! We love our friends. We love their faces. We love their lives. And yes, we love people who we don't actually know, too. We follow them to see what they're up to (and yeah, maybe sometimes in a semi stalker-ish way) and to see what they look like. But this is our way of appreciating each other, taking notes on life from one another, and inspiring each other to be who we each want to be.
So go on, keep posting all those brilliant photos of yourself in amazing outfits. Don't be afraid to get out there and show the world who you are. You never know who you might be impacting. Because we need to see the beauty in others sometimes to recognize our own.