The art of comparison: how Instagram is detrimental to female self-esteem 

opinion piece

I’ve had severe ups and downs with Instagram. It’s both my favourite and worst social media app. Because on the outside, it’s aesthetically pleasing to scroll through people’s seemingly perfect lives, perfect selfies, perfect food and their perfect relationships. But we often forget, usually, a huge amount of effort has gone into constructing these images. It’s fake.

As females we all have days where we are insecure. And unfortunately with social media girls of younger and younger ages are aware of their looks – and feeling an innate pressure to be conventionally attractive. Adhering to false beauty standards portrayed on social media. Now Instagram, being a visually based app – and thriving off of a like for like and comment for comment culture can breed self esteem issues.

Of course, it’s not a new concept for the media to convey unattainable beauty standards. This has been the case for traditional media platforms for most of cultural history, however the online realm; and in particular Instagram has accelerated this. Let me tell you why.

The app itself is, of course, irresponsible for a high increase in young girls developing mental health issues plagued by body image or self esteem. It’s how the app is used, and the nature of the characteristics of the app. It’s so fast moving, that users often feel pressure to upload. They have followers and ‘Insta celebrities’ they aspire to be like – and therefore this often breeds a competitive nature. Or a feeling of inferiority.

The art of comparison is what is killing our young girls souls. Scrolling through pretentious images, constructed for social validation. Comparing yourself to images that are fake. Comparing your life, your goals, your face, your ass and your entirety to someone you’ve never even met.

Possibly one of the worst things you can do in the cut throat world of Instagram is to compare. You must must must always stay grounded, remembering that most of these images are socially constructed. And even if they aren’t, everyone progresses at their own pace in life. You are doing great and that’s all you need to watch.

Survival of the fittest.

Neo-feminism vs. Neutrality 

opinion piece

Personally I don’t even believe in feminism as a concept or philosophy. If you are a female who does not believe in gender equality, then I would be forced to seriously question your entire morality and set of values. 

This being said, on the contrary, I would however still refer to myself as a feminist. There are still far too many sexist agendas which discriminate against women, that are simply just accepted in our society. For example, rape culture, which has received a lot of media exposure in recent years. 

We still have a long way to go. And I fear we are going completely the wrong way about tackling it. Just recently I have read several articles which refer to a neutrality in some form. First of all we had, ‘pan-sexuality’ – the belief that one has no sexuality. I next heard about ‘gender neutrality’. I understand these neutralities are being formed as a positive action, they are there to decrease discrimination and gender stereotypes, archetypal gender roles etc. 

Now just yesterday I read an article which was stating that body positivity is a farce. We should have ‘body neutrality’ as an alternative. That it causes us to put immense pressure on ourselves to always feel positive, and naturally everyone has insecure days. 

But I feel like ‘positivity’ is being misconstrued completely, I believe in the power of positivity. Now as cliche as it may sound, staying positive and believing things will get better, has aided me through some of the toughest times of my life. For one to assume that means you aren’t allowed a bad day, would be naive, no? 

Staying positive is a means to help people believe in themselves. It comes from a good place, and I just feel like, why must we always criticise? For example, body positivity is encouraged because of body shaming. And now positivity is being criticised because of being positive? 

This is just one fundamental example, but it relates to my initial point about neutrality. Why can’t we accept things for what they are? Biologically there are differences between females and males. That, in no way shape or form justifies any type of inequality or discrimination. But there are clear differences, no one can deny the fact. 

It’s awesome to write counterintuitive articles, it’s often something I enjoy doing myself. Criticism is how we learn, challenging the norms is a crucial part of being a competent journalist. Conforming to your role as the fourth estate within society. But some of these articles, and ‘neutralities’ are just scraping the barrel now. 

Why I’m going to be insanely selfish this year 

opinion piece

‘Successful women are selfish’ 

Discuss. 

No, this isn’t an exam don’t worry. I don’t really like that quotation, or my title to be fair. They both contain implications that we as females are selfish on superficial levels, when in fact, I am only referring to on a professional and careerial level. 

When a man is ruthless he is adored as a great business man. But when a women is just as ruthless she is called selfish? 

It’s not selfish at all. It’s a natural progression that one feels at a certain stage in their life when they need to put their own wants first. 

Why I am going to be shamelessly selfish this year 

The end of 2016 marked the end of an era for me. I finished my degree, and with zero guidance and a paradigm of confusion; I entered the real world. So for 2017 my fundamental aim is to gain as much industry experience as possible (my degree was in journalism). And be in a ‘good’ place by the end of the year.

I have to apply myself intensely so that I can be in a better position. BUT applying myself hard does come with some consequential factors. For example, I am still working my other temp job as a service advisor / marketing assistant at a garage; which by the way is severely demanding. 6 days a week, around 58 hours per week. It is a stressful role, and on top of that I am upkeeping a blog – freelance writing and attending interviews. 

Ultimately this year I need to put myself first. I need to save as much money as possible – an internship means unpaid or low paid work potentially. This means that other factors of my life may suffer. I am going to struggle financially, I’m not fortunate to have rich parents who can support me. Which means I will have to undertake a weekend job (hence no social life) just to pay my bills. Friends whom are not benefitting me, who aren’t ambitious or driven in life I just don’t have time for. This is not ruthless or unfair – I just have a very strict agenda and I need to stay focused. 

There are times where I want to cry out of frustration. My current job is not what I want to be doing – so everyday is a downhill struggle. My email inbox is scattered full of rejection. I am rejected on a daily basis. I must have applied to at least 2000 jobs / internships. This is the most disheartened I’ve ever been in my life. To want something so badly, try as hard as you possibly can. To just hit a brick wall. 

It hurts and I want to give up, I want to give up everyday. But I continue. I continue for myself. For my future, for my career. 

So if cutting back your social life, wearing last seasons trends and shopping at the pound shop all mean you can move forward in life. Do it. Do it with pride. Put yourself and your needs first. 

If that makes me selfish then ok I am selfish. But you know what? At the end of this year when I have achieved so much more than I even expected due to my own hard work. Then I will be the one reaping the rewards. 

Selflessness is so last year girls. 

The skin issue: miracle of hyaluronic acid

opinion piece

I always get a certain buzz from using products with specially added ingredients that are used in cosmetic procedures; maybe I’m a secret fiend for surgical enhancement.

So perhaps assuming skincare products with ingredients like hyaluronic acid (used in fillers) claiming to help reverse the anti-ageing process is purely psychological? Do they really work at fighting the wrinkles?

Hyaluronic acid is known scientifically for it’s ability to increase viscosity, and it is naturally found in our bodies. Often used in modern times for lip fillers and such, it is an amazing ingredient which is now expanding into the beauty industry. It has a unique ability to retain moisture, which is claimed to be a perfect anti-ageing treatment. I know I’m only 24, but better to start young I say!

Body Clique is an innovative new skincare company who fully utilise hyaluronic acid, they also use bee venom in their products. In their blog they state how it is beneficial to skin, and particularly anti-ageing: ”Bee venom is used cosmetically to trick the skin into thinking it has been lightly stung with the toxin melittin, causing the body to direct blood towards the area and therefore stimulating the production of the naturally-occurring chemicals collagen and elastin. Collagen strengthens body tissue while elastin is the protein that helps the skin to remain taut and bounce back into shape after being pressed or pinched. Moreover, the venom also has the effect of relaxing the muscles.”

They use amazingly unique ingredients, ranging from snake venom to caffeine. But do these exotic ingredients really work wonders on your face?

I was fortunate enough to receive some full size products from Body Clique, and I have to say they don’t disappoint. I was impressed at how well packaged they are, considering the company is a recent start-up. The products appear a lot more expensive than they are.

The facial oil sat on the skin a little more than desired (other facial oils tend to absorb nicely), but they did make my skin very soft. The collagen eye serum is great for under eye lines – it is rather thick so apply sparingly.

I feel like the products worked successfully, I must say my skin was very soft and supple after three days of using the facial oil with dragons fruit.It almost felt as if I had a facial in a salon, or a spa treatment. Over time this effect should progressively increase, and the appearance of fine lines should visually improve. Overall skin elasticity should improve also.

It is rare for me to scout good skincare products as I have very sensitive skin, which is usually too dry or too greasy – or worse a combination of both. Pizza face syndrome.

Unlike traditional skincare products there wasn’t an overbearing smell either, I found the products rather odourless – which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It made me feel as though the products were more natural, not enhanced with chemicals that just aren’t needed. (It also increased the surgical effect, as if I need an eye lift in my early twenties? but still).

Admittedly I have had lip fillers in the past, which also use hyaluronic acid. And I was very pleased with the natural results, because the chemical naturally occurs in our body.. Technically you aren’t injecting foreign chemicals, which could potentially be harmful.

Hyaluronic Acid you rock!

 

Overrated: trekking to pretentious restaurants on your birthday 

opinion piece

I really don’t want to be the Scrooge of birthdays.. but it has to be said that in my latter years I really cba with my birthday. 

I mean yes, I want to celebrate it with those who are close to me. But do I want to spend £50 on uber taxis (in a silly Toyota Prius may I add, huff); sit in a wanky restaurant surrounded by pretentious hipsters, whilst paying another £35 for a mediocre steak & sipping a pornstar martini which costs more than hiring an actual real life porn star? Nope. Going out to expensive joints is not for me anymore. 

Here are my top tips to enjoying special occasions without the overrated venues; 

1. Localise 

I’m pretty sure wherever you live you have a favourite restaurant. It’s not going to cost you hardly anything to travel to, you know you like the food. It’s a safe option, but sometimes safe is good. Safe is really good, and helpful to save money. 

2. Travel light 

As much as you want to look like a sass queen on your birthday, sometimes getting the tube is a lot cheaper and less time consuming than sitting in traffic. What you can do is bring flats in your bag (very flat flats), and just wear your stunner shoes for pics & inside the actual venue. 

3. Review that ish 

I wish in hindsight that I had read reviews on the over priced restaurant I attended for my birthday this weekend just gone. (Stk). It would have helped me to make a better informed decision. Always always read reviews, but take them with a pinch of salt. Of course every business / establishment gets fussy customers who just complain for the sake of it. But if the majority are saying negative remarks then take notice. 

4. Shop smart

Don’t even waste hundreds on your outfit just because you are going somewhere expensive. Who is going to know your dress was £13 in the missguided sale? As long as you slay who cares? 
But most of all enjoy!
 Slay bitches.

Nerve deception: Social media Vs. Reality

opinion piece

I watched ”Nerve” last Friday at the cinema, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the film, a brief overview:

”Nerve” refers to a game in the film, it is based on a social media concept. The game offers service users the option to become watchers or players. Watchers follow their favourite players, and become part of an underground community. Players must complete dares generated by watchers, every dare will win you money – but if you bail out at any point you lose all the money you have previously earned. Each dare becomes increasingly dangerous, and the protagonist whom becomes a player after she is mocked by her friends for never taking risks; becomes alarmingly immersed in the game. After a set-up by watchers, her and the said friend who criticised her, have a huge argument. And she tells the police all about the game, and how dangerous it is. She is warned at the beginning of joining as a player, that snitches get stitches. So she gets knocked out, and wakes up in a cell with a TV screen talking at her (Orwellian vibes at this stage). Because she snitched she has now become part of a third category within the game. Neither player nor watcher, she is now a prisoner. The only way out to be in the final round of the game, and win – or she is trapped forever. In the end, she fakes her death and she wins and the game is shut down by her geeky programming friends.

Although this is a somewhat far-fetched concept of an online game, particular elements explored within the film are comparable to issues identified within social media.

Focusing on Instagram, (as I feel this was the closest of the social media platforms to the game) these were the parallels I found:

Addiction & Insecurity- Within the film, players will go to extreme lengths to complete dares / because completing dares equals more followers, more likes, and therefore more on-line fame.

This also occurs on Instagram. Users will go to extreme lengths to increase popularity online:

There is huge pressure on social media for participants with a number of ‘’followers’’ to maintain a certain image, and also to be constantly active. The flow of the online world moves at an alarmingly fast rate – and you are expected to keep up. The mixture of these pressures, plus general insecurities, and exploitation of the female form online can have adverse effects on personal identity and body image. This can consequently lead to premature sexualisation of young females.

There has been a blur between porn and normality, which expands online through to social media. As McNair describes, ‘’…this revolution in the means of communication has fanned the growth of a less regulated, more commercialised, and more pluralistic sexual culture (in terms of the variety of sexualities which it can accommodate), and thus promoted what I will describe as a democratisation of desire…’’ (McNair, 2002:11)

Blur between online & reality – ”Nerve” encapsulates it’s users by using money incentives, but in addition to this users want to gain followers, and online fame as discussed above. This immersion into the game created a blur between reality and online.

This can be seen on Instagram also.

A poignant example of this is the case of Essena O’Neill, an 18 year old ‘’Insta-famous’’ female who had thousands of followers, and was addicted to social media. She would go to extreme lengths to convey a ‘’perfect’’ lifestyle and appearance on Instagram.

“I’ve spent the majority of my teenage life being addicted to social media, social approval, social status, and my physical appearance,” she writes in her last Instagram post, which shows a cartoon character wearing a television set on his head with “We Are A Brain-Washed Generation” written on the screen. “Social media, especially how I used it, isn’t real. Its contrived images and edited clips ranked against each other. It’s a system based on social approval, likes, validation, in views, success in followers. It’s perfectly orchestrated self-absorbed judgement.” (Chung, 2015, The Huffington Post):

Conclusion:

Although the concept of a murderous game online initially seems completely unrealistic; After further analysis, it can be said specific attributes of ”Nerve”, and how users interacted with it, are comparable to Instagram. Instagram addiction is a real issue, and users who can no longer establish between reality and the online realm, can potentially run the risk of causing detrimental affects to their mental health, social interaction and possibly even physical health in extreme cases (there has been reported cases of suicides due to social media related issues). Relying on social media for social approval is never a good thing. I don’t think this is the last we will be hearing about it, unfortunately.

 

 

Why females need to stop shaming each other 

opinion piece

We’ve all been there. Scrolling down your Facebook feed and you see a funny meme, it’s a little below the belt, but fuck it. You re-post it. ”Real men prefer curves” with a depiction of a skinny woman. For whatever reason it struck a cord with you, perhaps you were aiming it at someone you hate? Or maybe you are just highly opinionated and want to air your views. 

What I would like to understand is the pyschology behind posting ignorant, and most of the time, bitchy memes/indirects. 

Whatever your self justification may be. Any type of shaming is wrong. Just recently on social media I have noticed a lot of girls shaming other girls. Whether it be body shaming, slut shaming or even make up shaming (yes this is totally a thing now, and it’s just plain mean). It needs to stop. 

How can we expect men to respect us as a gender? When all we do is slate each other. 

If it’s because your insecure, jealous, or generally angry about something. It still doesn’t make it right. As a level headed person you need to deal with that internally, and discretely. Social media is not meant for airing your dirty laundry. 

Fair enough, I understand not everyone agrees on everything. We all have our individual opinions, and that’s fine. But spreading memes which shame others – particularly on attributes they cannot control / superficial attributes. It’s petty. 

And FYI. It makes you look like a mean girl. 

I believe we need more positivity between females, to encourage each other to grow, progress and succeed. Negativity creates boundaries, and segregation. Positivity unites. 💕