Let’s imagine the typical instagram user: a teenage girl, having to deal with puberty problems and trying to find her place in the world. I know, 700 million people use instagram on a monthly basis which means there is a big variety, so “typical” is a critical term, but I am pretty sure there is a huge number of teenage girls using the platform. And it is this group of users I am concerned about.
So, on the one hand we have the typical teenage girl – a bit troubled and not really knowing herself, trying to look for orientation and role models to look up to.
On the other hand, we have the typical so called “instagram influencer”. What does she look like? She appears as the beautiful fitness model-like girl, who makes great journeys on heavenly beaches while wearing expensive and perfectly matching clothes, eating all healthy and being what is called “in shape”.
The difference to a real model or VIP is: The “instagram influencer” seems authentic and reachable. She directly addresses her followers, trying to appear like a friend and someone who is normal and “just like you”. But the problem with many of these influencers is: They are trying to present the “girl next door” while creating a perfect illusion.
They might not have bad intentions and maybe they are not even aware of their impact. But what I am seeing as questionable is using tricks like photoshop and creating a non-existent perfection which is far from realistic.
And our teenage girl? She is scrolling through her feed, seeing the seemingly perfect bodies, clothes and lifestyles. And it makes her feel bad about herself. She is seeing someone, who pretends to be at the same level while also living a flawless, exciting life. It makes her feel like this is a goal she has to reach, something she has to keep up with, when in fact it is a faked illusion.
There have always been a lot of discussions going on about the connection of the (social) media and eating disorders. I am not a fan of this opinion, as I would not make the media responsible as a sole trigger. But I do believe that getting disillusioned and losing your realistic view by social media might pour oil on the fire. And there are people proving that this presumption is true.
So, should instagram be forbidden for our group of typical teenage girls? No. Should the “instagram influencers” be called to account? Again, no.
What is important, is to create awareness and to clarify the fact, that instagram is meant to show perfect pictures, but not a reachable reality.
And the teenage girls have to take care of themselves. Realizing that following specific accounts does not make them feel good (let’s not forget that instagram should be fun!), they should unfollow them.
There are many accounts out there encouraging body positivity and reality checks .
This might seem ridiculous for onlookers as these are things that might appear obvious. Sure, not everyone is size 0. Sure, girls do not have to look like a fitness model. But in the perfect staged instagram world, these things might be forgotten and some lost teenage girls out there can really benefit from these little reminders.
I am extremely curious to hear your opinions on this controversial topic and if you have made any similar experiences you are very welcomed to share them with us down below in the comments.