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Instagram vs. reality

| Wednesday, April 14, 2021

At 14 years old I created my first (parent-approved) Instagram account. 

My very first post was a heavily-filtered photo I had taken of myself with a full face of makeup, curled hair and jewelry. I remember posting the photo after I had followed every single one of my friends and family, waiting for each of them to like and comment. I sat there refreshing my page repeatedly, waiting to see how many people would engage with my post. Over and over again I would get excited when I would see the orange heart icon appear over my notification bar. Once a post stopped receiving likes after a day or two, I would post another. This trend continued with every single photo I posted up until recently. Eventually, I got to the point where I would delete photos where I thought I looked bad, or that didn’t get enough likes. I would scroll through my tagged photos periodically and untag myself from posts that weren’t edited or filtered to my liking. I found myself obsessing over how I looked on social media and what other people thought of my posts. Looking back, it makes me incredibly sad that I was seeking validation online through photos that oftentimes didn’t even look like me. 

I was reminded of how social media causes us to obsess over our “image” when news broke that one of Khloé Kardashian’s assistants accidentally posted a photo of the star by the pool in her swimsuit. The image displayed Khloé smiling and holding her phone, in what seems like a typical image that she would post on social media, but something was different. The photo hadn’t yet been heavily edited to portray her body in the way she had wanted to appear on social media. 

When I heard about this, I wasn’t surprised. Anyone on social media knows that the Kardashian family is notorious for heavily editing their photos, specifically their bodies. What I found interesting about this, however, was how hard the family had been fighting to get the image taken down. The Kardashian family has worked to delete the image from the internet entirely, even going so far as to threaten legal action against anyone who had posted it. Khloé Kardashian is having trouble living up to her own beauty standard, not of what she used to look like, or what she looks like at any given moment, but rather the standard that she has set for herself on social media. 

Thinking back, I’m guilty of almost the same thing. In high school, specifically after creating my Instagram account and posting photos of myself, I would make sure that I would wake up every single day early enough to put on a full face of makeup and to straighten or curl my hair. I spent each moment trying to live up to the standard that I had set for myself through the photos I had been posting on social media. In fact, I sometimes still do this. Even now, my Instagram account features mainly photos of me either alone or with friends where I am pictured with a full face of makeup. Just recently, I decided not to post a photo of myself with my boyfriend in front of the dome because I didn’t have makeup on in the photo and I didn’t want to be portrayed on social media as who I really am, or what I really look like. I chose not to post the photo, despite the crinkles around my eyes making the smile on my face completely obvious, because I would have rather been perceived on social media as pretty rather than happy. 

In a way, the Khloé Kardashian photo scandal was like a wake up call for me. I realized that throughout most of my life on social media, I had only posted the best photos of myself. I even chose not to post photos where I was at my happiest, proudest, etc. just because I was worried about what other people would think about me. I failed to share some of my best memories with my friends and family, because I couldn’t bear the thought of them seeing me for who I truly am. Today marks the change. My social media will no longer be a photo album of the prettiest version of myself, but rather a collection of the most awesome parts of my life, even if I might not be wearing makeup when it happens.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Veronica Navarro

Veronica Navarro is a junior at Notre Dame from South Bend, IN currently serving as The Observer's Social Media Editor. Navarro is also a member of the Notre Dame Mock Trial team and a resident of Flaherty Hall.

Contact Veronica