What the Instagram Explore Page Does to my Self-Esteem

“Maybe they’re clones,” my sister said as the three of us sat huddled over her phone. We had been scrolling through the Instagram explore page out of boredom for the past twenty minutes and had started stalking this one seemingly perfect girl’s account. We were currently fixated on one particular picture of her and her sorority sisters, all dressed in little white dresses and looking like they had just come from some magazine photo shoot. Their hair was long and curled, their skin was tan and clear, and they all somehow managed to be candidly laughing without looking posed. I’m pretty sure my self-esteem dropped just looking at them. And this photo was just one of many, each showcasing how much fun this seemingly perfect girl and her equally perfect friends were having almost every day. There were pictures of them in anything from crop tops and face paint on game day, to bikinis and with mimosas in hand, and little black dresses and heels higher than I could ever walk in.

This was the kind of thing that scared me about Instagram. I expected this from Victoria Secret models and the Kardashians, but this girl wasn’t a celebrity. She was a seemingly average girl my same age, some friend of a friend of my sister’s from grade school. This almost made it worse. How was I supposed to compete with that? Why even bother having an Instagram if girls like that were always going to be there, reminding me that I was too pale, not skinny enough, and not anywhere close to photogenic enough to compare to them? How on earth did she manage to look that flawless? When someone tries to take candid pictures of me, I always tend to look like a slightly confused, slightly constipated moose. Every time I looked at the Explore page, I was reminded of my inferiority to those girls, and that feeling sucked.

Don’t get me wrong, the Explore page isn’t all that bad. Sometimes there are really cool slime videos, funny text posts, or, my personal favorite, screen grabs of Tom Holland talking about his dog (find me something more adorable, I dare you). But pictures of these “perfect” Instagram girls kept popping up. One of my friends told me to just scroll past and not look. Another friend of mine was always comparing herself to them, talking about how we could take this photo or that photo so that we could look like them. Most of the time I just stared at them and stewed in my jealousy, wishing I hadn’t eaten that fourth piece of pizza at lunch.

But is it worth it? Deep down, I know those girls aren’t perfect. I know that they probably have problems and struggles and fail Arabic vocab quizzes just like me. But for some reason I let it get under my skin. Why do I care so much? I get mad at myself for comparing myself to them, which only makes matters worse.

This isn’t a how-to article. It doesn’t have a heartfelt message to drive home or a list of solutions to the problem. I’ve tried to come up with some but I feel like a hypocrite when I do because I rarely follow my own advice. When I sat down to write this article, I was frustrated when I couldn’t provide any of these at first. But I realized that the best I could do was just write it all down, and hope that someone would read it and say, “Thank God, someone feels the same way.”

Image Credit: Feature, 1, 2