Analyzing My Instagram

I made this video of myself where I analyze my Instagram feed and ask myself the questions: Why am I posting this? How do I want people to perceive me? How do I accomplish the image I’m trying to portray on social media? Is my social media accurate with what’s going on in my real life? I analyzed my Instagram and came up with 5 things about me that I try to reflect online. I’ve realized that I really want people to know that 1. I’m a writer, 2. I have a blog, 3. I’m obsessed with J.Cole, 4. I’m from the Bay Area, and 5. I’m a body positive advocate and a feminist. I’ve provided screenshots from my actual Instagram profile to be completely open and truthful, but to also show what specific pictures and posts I’m talking about.

I thought it was important to dissect social media in particular because it’s such a big part of our lives. I personally think that people try so hard to uphold a certain image online, and at times, it can be very detrimental to ourselves and others. We tend to compare our lives to those around us, and if all we see are curated, happy, “I’m livin’ my best life,” photos all the time, it can leave some viewers feeling like they need to measure up to something unachievable. It’s like a competition of “Who has the better life?” It’s more common to see happy pictures and moments posted up on the ‘gram, rather than in-depth self-reflecting posts. I’ve written a couple stories on social media and the effects it has on people and how they view themselves. And I’ve found that social media tends to make people feel worse about themselves- whether that be their appearance, their self-esteem, their jobs, their life decisions, or their life in general. Social media is so readily available to view, but this also opens the door for constant criticism and comparing. People are so fixed on broadcasting certain aspects of their lives, but you will never really know the entirety of someone’s life through social media. You’ll just know what they want you to know, what they choose to show you. Like I said in my video, it’s like playing mind games with your followers. It’s not like we’re doing anything malicious, but it’s still trying to persuade your audience to view you in a certain way.

When I was analyzing my Instagram and asking myself these questions as to why I posted them, and what image I’m trying to project, I had my moment. One of those self-reflecting moments where you’re sitting there trying to make sense of everything, and all of a sudden the stars align and everything makes sense and you hit enlightenment. Just kidding, it wasn’t that deep. But I really had a moment of clarity, where I’m like, “ohhhhh…. Ok, so that’s what I’m trying to show, because X, Y, Z.” I think that’s what’s really important. The why behind what we post. What’s the motive? What is it accomplishing? Is the explanation as to why I post things detrimental, or a toxic way of thinking? I believe self-reflecting this way can help someone see their real motives. When I was recording myself talking about why I post things, I felt a little embarrassed to give my “why.” Only because we’re so used to uploading things with a witty or meaningful caption, but never the reason behind posting.

You’ll only know what they want you to know, is what I’m leaving with after this video. Even if someone documents their everyday life regularly, you’ll never really know someone’s truth just by their social media accounts. I was scrolling through my profile and chuckled in my brain a little. Yeah, y’all know I’m a writer, I broadcast it all over and post up my work consistently. But did you know that I’m actually very insecure about posting my work? Did you know that I sometimes wonder if I should even post it up because I have that doubt of, “who will even care?” Yeah, I have a blog. But did you know that I only made it because a class required me to? And did you know that I wanted to make a blog before that but never had the courage to do it? Did you know I kept the blog a secret- aside from those in my class- for about 6 months because I wasn’t confident enough to publicize it? Yeah, J.Cole is my favorite artist of all time… Actually, there’s no revelation for this point, haha. I fuck with J.Cole and I don’t care if you get annoyed of my J.Cole posts J . Yeah, I’m from the Bay Area and proud! But did you know that I constantly beat myself up over the fact that I probably have to live and settle down somewhere else because of how ridiculously expensive it is here? Did you know that I see the neighborhoods that I grew up in changing, and that it makes me really sad? Yeah, I identify as a body positive advocate and feminist. But did you know that I still have those days where I struggle to accept my body? Were you aware that I am so passionate about this topic that I cried in front of my whole class when pitching a body positive podcast idea to a well-known podcaster? Probably not. And that’s my point.

There is so much more to you that your audience will never know. You are the only person that can figure out your why. I’m putting this out there in hopes that someone views it and it changes them, or impacts them in a positive way. I hope that if anyone decides to analyze their own social media, and they realize they’re posting for toxic behaviors, that they reflect on it and find peace within themselves.

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“Note To Self”

I look at the picture that is posted above and I feel a little sad. I was in 3rd grade in that picture, and if I could tell 3rd grade me anything, I’d tell her sorry. I’d tell her not to give into what the media has pounded into her brain, the unrealistic expectations that we were all brought up on. I’d tell her that you don’t have to be a certain body type to be beautiful, to embrace the body she was given instead of shaming it. And most importantly I’d tell her she deserves to truly love herself, regardless what society projects.

For all my life I’ve struggled with body image issues. I would look at myself in the mirror and find all the things that I thought was wrong about me. From my stomach, to my arms, to the stretchmarks on my thighs, nothing was off limits. I remember watching the Tyra Banks show in the 4th grade, where she stood in front of her whole studio audience in a bathing suit she was recently shot in, where news outlets bashed her for her “imperfect” body. I remember watching Tyra choke up as she finished her speech, and I too started to get emotional.

“If I had lower self-esteem, I would probably be starving myself right now,” Banks said. “But that’s exactly what is happening to other women all over this country… To all of you that have something nasty to say about me, or other women that are built like me, women that sometimes or all the time look like this, women whose names you know, women whose name you don’t, women who have been picked on, women whose husbands put them down, women at work, or girls in school, I have one thing to say to you… KISS MY FAT ASS!”

I was young, but Tyra’s speech hit home. I’ve been insecure all my life. When people talk about weight or appearance, I cringe and hope that the attention isn’t put on me. I have a tough exterior, but the one thing that can bring me to instant (angry) tears, is when someone thinks it is okay to comment about my weight or appearance. That has always rubbed me the wrong way. Growing up I would get : “You gained weight,” “You’re getting bigger,” “You should watch what you eat,” “You would look so good if you were smaller!”… alright, dawg, you don’t think that out of all people I would know if I gained weight? And even if I wasn’t aware, I feel like it is never anyone’s place to casually bring it up.

Reyna Rochin, body builder and personal trainer, felt the pressure of the media and those around her growing up as well. She’s 100% badass, and has a huge heart. She uses her Instagram account to show her workout progress and to also share personal stories. She confessed her insecurities and personal stories on a couple of Instagram posts promoting self-love. Rochin has a ton of tattoos on her upper body and explains why.

“When I was 15, I HATED my upper body,” Rochin said on an Instagram post. “My wide shoulders and back were not what the other popular girls around me had and I was told by several boys that ‘you look like a man from behind.’ My tattoos are there because I love art and the aesthetics of tattoos but if I’m going to be honest, they are also a testament of new found self-love. My arms, shoulders, and chest used to be parts of me I loathed. And, as cheesy as it sounds, it wasn’t until taking lifting seriously did I realize that my broad shoulders could hold a 200 lb front squat no problem, or my strong chest could allow a 150 lb bench press to fly up easily.”

Rafaella Pereira also used working out to deal with her insecurities. She’s a wife, and a mother to a beautiful girl. Her Instagram feed is filled with personal stories of her struggles with body image issues. Growing up, she was told that she was fat, ugly, and dark. And for a big portion of her life, Pereira believed it.

“I would look in the mirror at times and scream, ‘you’re ugly, fat, and you will never be happy,’” said Rafaella Pereira. “I used to blame God for my lack of self-love and lack of motivation to be better.”

But Pereira has used the negativity as fuel to better herself. Her greatest accomplishment, but surely not last, was running a marathon that she would wake up every day at 5 am for. She hopes one day to publicly speak and help others.

As an older woman who is finally trying to come to terms with loving herself, accepting her body, and trying to unlearn all the things that were/ are detrimental to my peace of mind, I see and intake media differently. Up until recently I would look at pictures on Instagram of models, and I would think, “I wish I looked like that…” But ever since Ashley Graham started to break the mold in the model industry, I started looking at media realistically. There are people that edit their photos to try to uphold a “beautiful” image, they airbrush things that they don’t want you to see. But the thing is… IT’S NOT REAL. It’s all a lie. Stretchmarks, cellulite, rolls, IT’S NORMAL. EVERYONE HAS THEM. IT’S REAL.

That’s why I believe all these fashion shows are a joke. For the simple fact that not all body types are being represented. Not everyone is 5’10 or taller, under 110 lbs, with a size 0 waist. And if you are, then cool! I’m not trying to put anyone down for not being like me. However, representation is everything. Young girls and boys are growing up seeing the lack of diversity, and it encourages them to strive to be something they are not. Sometimes not even genetically possible.

Towards the end of 2016 it hit me that I basically spent my whole life hating my body. I look back to the photo above and around that age I had wrote in my diary “I’m gonna go on a diet.” I had an epiphany, and realized instead of being miserable and hating myself, I should love myself and be the person I wish I could look up to growing up. I’ve had too many instances in the fitting room when I just wanted to leave, even cried a couple of times. I’ve always been the bigger girl, and I’ve always tried to compare myself to others. I’ve vowed to try to stay body positive, even though I have my days when I feel the opposite. It’s awesome that there are people like Ashley Graham that promote self-love and accepting your curves and body type, but still also promotes the importance of a healthy lifestyle and working out.  You can be built bigger and still be healthy, but there will always be people and the media telling you that it is not okay. But it is okay. And I wish I could’ve told 3rd grade me that. It’s a long road to unlearning all the horrible things I would think about myself, but it’s so much more worth it than staying in a state of self-loathing and self-hate.