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.

How you can help friends who suffer with depression, MHAW 17 

top tips

Depression is much like drowning. You are laying in a full bath of luke warm water, staring aimlessly at the ceiling. You don’t see the ceiling, you see nothing but blankness. You know you need to move, but all energy, all motivation has miraculously escaped your cold, fatigued body. You are cold. Depression is that point where you can’t move, you aren’t even mentally in the room. You are consumed by your own intruding dark thoughts. 

 I imagine depression as long black cloak, which is invisible for the most part. But when it wants to make itself known. It will make your entire world fall apart around you. 

Seeing as it’s mental health awareness week, and I have been viewing in the media that more and more young people are being diagnosed with depression / depressive disorders. I thought it was mandatory to try and help others understand what we go through, and how they can potentially help. Of course when it comes to mental health, there is no secret tablet that cures your condition. Because more often than not, there is external factors which alleviate the condition. 

For me, being a naturally bubbly person and suffering with depression on and off; It’s even more difficult because everyone always assumes you are fine. Oh you are strong and loud, you’ll get on with it. 

This isn’t always the case. 

Here are some tips to help if you have a friend who suffers; 

1. Check on them 

The one thing that really matters when someone is depressed is the feeling of isolation. Just messaging someone asking how they are can literally make their day. To you it’s a short message, to the disaffected person that can be seen as someone caring, reaching out. So do check up on your friends as regularly as you can. It helps. 

2. Patience is a virtue 

Be patient with depressed people. If they are having a bad day, they may not want to talk to you – don’t take anything personally. They may need time to get their thoughts together. 

3. Be there 

It sounds really patronising and obvious, but if any of your friends ever tell you they are depressed. Don’t assume it’s a one day thing and they will be fine next week. It could be potentially something they suffer with, on and off, for the rest of their lives. So try your hardest to be there for them as much as you can. Whether it be days out to distract them and get them out of the house – or phone calls where you just listen. It all helps in the grand scheme of things. 

Please like and share this to raise awareness. We don’t need to suffer in silence #Mentalhealthawarenessweek 

Dysfunctional socially: living with functioning anxiety 

top tips

You can often be in a room full of people but feel completely and utterly alone. You can be in a social situation, with a huge grin on your face; eyes wide, speaking and laughing confidently. But inside, your heart is beating so fast you think it possibly may burst through your chest, your hands are clammy, and you can’t stop fidgeting. Your legs are shaking, tapping. Tapping to an unknown beat only you can hear in your mind. Tap. Tap. Tap. 

Living with anxiety is far from easy. And having panic attacks at any given time can be nerve wrecking to say the least. But I feel there’s a lot of people out there who live day to day with functioning anxiety. Meaning, you have anxiety to an extent – but you can still socially function. This is perhaps a blessing and a curse. In one sense, the fact you can socialise can be a positive distraction. But it’s always a curse in the sense that people who don’t understand how functioning anxiety works – can often assume your ‘anxiety’ doesn’t exist. Simply because you still have a life, and try to enjoy it where you can. 

I just wanted to clear up some common misconceptions for those who aren’t aware of functioning anxiety, and give some helpful tips for those struggling. 

  1. Deception – it’s hugely deceiving for people who aren’t aware of your mental state. Depression is often a side affect of anxiety (or a common mental state which goes hand in hand with anxiety). Meaning that you have ups and downs. Just because you still socialise alot of the time and appear ‘normal’. Don’t let anyone tell you that you are stable, if you know deep down you need help. 
  2. ‘She’s just saying that for attention’ – others who say this about you may do it for a number of reasons. But you know yourself whether you are ill or not. And the everyday struggles you face. Ignore this type of comment, and comtinue to try to combat your demons. 
  3. Talk the talk – sometimes sharing your problems or just admitting something is wrong can be the first step towards recovery. 
  4. Light at the end of the tunnel – although it may not seem like you will ever recover. You can do it. You have to be mentally strong and learn to control your condition. Until it no longer exists. It won’t be easy – you will no doubt, have several break downs along the way. But you can do it! 

So next time you assume someone is ok just because they function in a seemingly normal way. How about you don’t assume anything? 

Because you don’t know what that person is going through. Maybe their mum just died of cancer and they are battling depression, but their way of dealing with it is to go out and drink with friends? 

Everybody deals with their problems in their own ways. What we need less of is judgmental behaviour. We need to raise awareness of the importance of mental health, and start discussion. Because discussion can often lead to cures.