Tan skin glowing in golden hour lighting, nose contoured to fake a Bella Hadid facelift, Chanel bag on my shoulder, smooth middle-parted hair cascading down my back, smiling with my eyes and not my teeth. These are the elements in which I feel most beautiful. I don’t have over a thousand followers, and I have never been paid to post a product. I don’t have to create a version of me in which I am all of the following: a model, a fashion icon, a photographer, an event planner, a fitness guru, a chef, a success. Yet, I force myself to live in pursuit of a photogenic life, a life in which I am perfect like an influencer. But here is the thing, I am a college student. I have 65 photos on my Instagram, 65 pictures in which I felt like I was the epitome of my best self or rather my most beautiful self. That is only 65 days out of the year in which I wore the perfect outfit in the perfect location with the perfect lighting. The other 300 days in the year, I wore gym clothes with two-day-old hair and no makeup. I never considered myself ugly, but I certainly wasn’t Instagrammable per se.
Networking with other young college women in my industry via social media, I started grasping onto this fantasy that if I didn’t attend school in New York City and wore Prada to brunch every day, that I was unsuccessful and essentially unmarketable to future employers.
I think that these 65 photos in which I felt beautiful and successful made me feel like I was living a life worth living. These 65 moments captured the happiness and the cosmopolitan life that an aspiring fashion writer like myself considered an everyday occurrence.
After attending a social media networking event IRL, I went to sleep that night feeling empty. I started recollecting the people I met that night. The influencers used high pitched voices and bright eyes to communicate with one another. I began to listen in on their conversations with one another. What did it all mean? Did being an influencer equate to living your best life? All of these women seemed happy. But I certainly didn’t feel happy. It was all arbitrary. I started realizing that social media was a lie, like the kind of lie where you formulate a job description on a resume to be far more impressive than it is. It has been proven countless times that social media is linked to several mental health problems, including depression and eating disorders. While I know I could be happier without social media, I see myself as a member of the press whose career relies on my profiles.
Think about this: we have integrated this facade of living your best life into finding your partner for life. Dating app profiles are similar to Instagram in which we post our best photos and best moments for others to either swipe left or right on. Intimacy runs deeper than five photos, one of which is your dog.
Is there a happy medium in the world of social media? Or is it far too black and white: this is the question I continuously ask myself.