Have you ever watched a YouTube clip which shows the process involved in a fashion magazine shoot with an amazing, almost perfect looking model? It’s an eye-opening experience to say the least, seeing the transformation of the photo from the raw image to the end of the post production process shows us that the end product isn’t even real. Once the makeup artist and photographer do their best to create a good shot the real magic begins, a graphic artist then uses their highly trained skills to create a picture that has no human fault.
When these clips started to show up on the internet they instantly became viral, the comments they generated highlighted how people felt and the message was loud and clear - these false images were harming society by creating unrealistic expectations around how people should look which leads to negative self perception. I know that when I look at some magazines these days I remind myself that what I’m looking at is not real and that I shouldn’t place any expectations on myself based on what I’m seeing - what I am seeing is unrealistic.
While I have trained myself to do this, recently I had an experience which made me think about something that I was doing that may be having a similar, albeit possibly smaller affect on others. One day I jumped on Facebook and checked out my profile page, a friend of mine had tagged a photo of me and it’s fair to say that I hated the photo, I felt like I looked like absolute crap. All of the insecurities I have about my image were glaringly obvious and right there for all the world to see, as quickly as I could I untagged the photo, I didn’t want my world to see this photo of me.
This experience made me think about my Facebook page, is it a real representation of my life or is it a carefully crafted representation of how I would like my world to see me? If I am honest about it, my social media profile isn’t 100% me, it’s the 100% me that I would like my world to see. I’ve subconsciously, and at times consciously, tweaked it to influence the way people think of me when they see my profile. I don’t feel my profile is a lie, it’s just that the majority of the time I only show the good parts. If you look through the photos you won’t see ones where I look like rubbish, my written posts tend to represent the personality/character traits that I would like my world to see in me, they don’t show sides of my personality that may risk judgement that I don’t like.
The question I have been asking myself since thinking about this is; am I willing to shift my approach to the way I use social networking? Am I willing to be more risky with my thoughts, to put images up where I feel my insecurities are exposed?
I’ll be honest, I don’t think I will and I’m ok with this, to me it’s ok to want to protect yourself but there is an important point to think about with social media. Like the carefully crafted and manipulated magazine photos, the majority of social networking profiles and outlets aren’t the true, 100% representation of the person that it portrays. The reason this is an important thing to remember is that we can look at our social media outlets and think that everyone else has an amazing lives but mine is not. These types of thoughts can lead to negative assessments of ourselves which can be harmful to us in many ways.
My point here isn’t that you need to get rid of the social media in your life, it’s just that it’s good for you to create a way to remind yourself that what you are looking at is a curated version of someones life that will tend to be a representation of all of the good sides of that person. If you look at social media and feel that everyone else has an amazing life and yours is lacking remind yourself of this point and that you shouldn’t feel bad about yourself. See the pictures you have in front of you for what they really are, it’s the healthy approach to this world.
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