Why "I Stopped Getting Dressed For Instagram” Remarks Aren't As Great As People Seem To Think
Self esteem is a tricky thing to master, which is why I usually look to other inspiring women for tips on how to have confidence. And one of my favorite places to find these tips is sort of unconventional — so bare with me — but it’s on Instagram’s #OOTD tag. There’s nothing I like to do more while waiting for a train to pull in or for my cup of coffee to arrive than scrolling through my feed of Instagram photos.
I get a loop of muddy hiking boots hanging over the edge of pine covered cliffs, pastel colored macaroons dotting a plate next to a fancy cup of frothy coffee, silly looking pups with their heads cocked in hello, and the insides of restaurants with pendant lamps and way-too-expensive-but-totally-worth-it appetizers. And sprinkled in between all of those snaps are inspirational, colorful women who post shots of what they’re wearing that day. Beautiful summer dresses, interesting layers, creative mix and matching. I can hand out those hearts with my taps for hours on end, picking up clever tips and new ideas on how to dive into my closet the next day.
But on the flip-side, I can understand and appreciate how — ah — addicting it could be posting. You snap a picture of your sunnies next to a vase of peonies and you watch those likes slowly trickle in, fighting the urge to refresh the page every three minutes. It’s like getting high fives from strangers — a weird ego boost and a feeling of recognition. Which is why I was intrigued when I started to see a trend from these Insta-famous bloggers stepping away from their #OOTD. It’s a hard habit to break (like switching from coffee to green tea: It’ll guarantee some withdrawal shakes); what exactly was motivating them to pause?
At first I wondered if it was because of the minimalist movement we’ve been experiencing this year. Maybe these style mavens were taking a step back from shopping or were trying to cut back on how much they had in their closets. Maybe they want to spend more time offline doing mini adventures, where they go out for a glass of wine and a plate of tartare without documenting the whole thing from putting on their lipstick to asking for the check. All valid reasons.
But reading on, I was disappointed to find out the real reasons behind some of the hiatuses.
They wanted more peace of mind, they would state. They didn’t want to worry over what to wear every single day, or for every time they hopped outside of the house. Which, of course, I totally understand! Sometimes a girl just wants to shlub out with her sweatpants and headband on.
There was a call for quieter dressing, where bold prints were retired and statement pieces folded up and put into the back of drawers. Which, I get ya, styles change after all. Sometimes an unassuming, classic look is just what we’re feeling. I mean, Calvin Klein built a whole empire around that sentiment. I’m still right there with you.
But then, the truth. The heart of the matter was finally admitted: Some of these women felt like they were asking to be the center of attention because of their different take on style. They felt like they were outshining their friends with their outfits, dipping into colors and feeling adventurous with patterns and textures. They were being a too-much type of woman, and it made them feel uncomfortable.
What’s even worse, they felt like they looked like they were overcompensating, dressing up to go to the park or sticking out while at brunch. They felt like they were waving their hands and asking for some sort of spotlight. My reaction by the end of the piece was: Wut? This isn’t taking a break from Instagram. This is shrinking. There’s a difference.
I support any woman who doesn’t feel like spending 30 minutes of her morning trying to decide what to wear. I support any woman who doesn’t care what the new cut for jeans is this season, or blinks as bored-like at a floral dress the way I do at a 401(k) statement. I’m all down for normcore dressing and for stepping out in nothing but a white tee and a slick of chapstick. But that’s not what this is.
It takes courage to be true to yourself and to not shrink when people notice you. Because you’re not really dressing up for other people when you have such a defined sense of style, are you? You’re dressing up for the pleasure of it, and because it makes you happy. You do it because you’ve found a kinship in something about the cut of a piece or a color of a skirt and you feel a delighted little zing every time you catch your reflection in a shop window. It's completely selfish, and it's wonderful.
So if you want to take a break from Instagram, fine. Want a little hiatus from your closet? My worn-in, baggy boyfriend jeans will attest that I’ve been right there with you for more than a moment or two. But don’t do these things because you are having a moment of intimidation. Being true to yourself and being weird and sticking out takes practice. Keep doing it.
You can only get better at it.