Instagram vs. Reality: Why Deleting Instagram Helped my Self-Esteem

Social media is a great way to stay connected with friends and family. However, there can be a dark side to it, especially when it comes to Instagram. I made an Instagram account when I was in eighth grade about to enter high school. All of my friends downloaded the app, and the platform finally starting to take off in popularity.

At first, I never really posted anything--aside from funny pictures and a few quotes-- because I’ve never been comfortable with having my photo taken. Looking back, I wonder why I had Instagram in the first place, because for the 6 years I had it, I posted less than 50 pictures, and only a few of those were of myself. 

I remember feeling so insecure. While looking at other people’s posts, I would ask myself questions. Why don’t I look as beautiful as them? Why can’t I make that selfie angle look good? Why doesn’t my hair naturally look like that? Or, why doesn’t my makeup turn out like that? Having these thoughts day after day diminished my self confidence, which wasn’t very high to begin with. 

Any time I did post a photo of myself, I would edit it so my skin would appear clearer, my teeth would be whiter, and to ensure the image had better quality all around. My friends would make compliments about my clearer skin or something else they know I’m self-conscious about. But that, of course, didn’t make me feel any better because it was fake; I didn’t actually look like those pictures I was posting, so I couldn’t even gain confidence from those compliments. 

Over this past summer, I temporarily disabled my Instagram to see how it would make me feel, but I still kept opening the app out of habit of checking it every day for years. I didn’t want to reactivate my account, but at the same time I kept thinking of all the posts I was missing. One day, when I was feeling brave, I logged on so I could permanently deleted my account, and I deleted the app from my phone.

It took me deleting my account to realize that I am not the type of person who can handle Instagram. I obsessed over it. I constantly compared the smallest of my traits to others, especially celebrities. I feel like everyone does this from time to time, and celebrities, of course, have a big budget for their beauty, but I still felt awful about not being as beautiful as Zendaya or not being as physically fit as Gal Gadot. 

Deleting Instagram was such a freeing experience, and I wish I had done it sooner. My outlook on my self image has improved greatly, and I encourage others to test the experiment. If you’re too intimidated to take the leap and completely delete your account, then just temporarily disable it and see how that affects your mental health and body image. It could improve your self-esteem in ways you never thought possible, and if it doesn’t, then that’s okay too. Everyone is different and everyone has their own ways of processing things. I still have trouble comparing myself to people I see in everyday life, but I remind myself to take things one step at a time