It’s no secret: most of us know that social media is not real life. Still, who hasn’t felt a twinge of inadequacy while scrolling through an endless loop of ‘perfect’ selfies?
Thankfully, every now and then, we have body-positive social media movements to help us see that we’re all flawed, and that it’s absolutely okay to be so.
One of the most recent ones is #IAmUgly, a campaign initiated by law student Aitijya Sarkar (22), wherein you’re encouraged to post a no-filter selfie of yourself or a body part you dislike.
In this video, Aitijya explains the idea behind his campaign:
The Picture-Perfect Virtual World
On social media, people feel like there’s a certain image they need to project and maintain. There is immense pressure to look perfect on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. After taking umpteen shots, only some are posted, and these are inevitably edited.
We get so used to controlling and curating the ‘perfect’ online image that we feel ugly in real life.
Indian millennials feel strongly about this. Adrit Majumder (22), a journalism student from Kolkata, says, “There’s pressure to look cool on social platforms. Most teenagers and young adults follow trends to look conventionally cool, and I feel like I’m inadvertently a part of this too.
“When you see everyone around you trying to reach that standard, which was unrealistic in the first place, you slowly find yourself falling behind for lack of trying. This eventually causes frustration and – in my case – a dilemma, where I’m stuck between being me or portraying myself as people want me to be.”
Sumedha Sen (22), a law student from Pune, shares similar views. “Whenever I put up photos on Instagram, there’s this urge to look my best – to hide my flaws as much as I can. So I fret over minor things like the brightness, the filter, the angels and an incessant need to not look fat!
“I had once put up a photo of mine on SnapChat; this friend of mine texted me to send it to her to edit. And trust me, the end result looked nothing like me at all. That just saddened me; why can I not put up a photo of me the way I actually look? I have stopped putting up selfies on SnapChat to save myself from the constant paranoia.”
Let’s Keep It Real
Despite what our friends and followers on social networks might think, it’s really important that we tried keeping things real on social media — that we projected our true, unfiltered selves.
Unfortunately, today, not just models and celebrities, everyone is busy altering their photos. The result? More negative body image and less self-acceptance. We might look confident and self-assured online, but that’s only because of digital enhancements and perfected poses. Take away these special effects and most of us will feel unsightly.
As Aitijya points out, “People need to realise that underneath all the perfect filters and captions, lies a human suffering from the same insecurities. If you harbour self-doubt, you’re not alone. If you think you’re ugly, you’re not alone. Social media is too toxic, too unreal today. It has to become a more vulnerable and accepting space.”
What Can We Do About It?
– Be mindful. Always ask yourself ‘why should I post this’ before you actually do.
– Make sure you are following the right crowd. There are quite a few celebrities and influencers like Vidya Balan, Huma Qureshi and Ashley Graham who are keeping it real online; draw inspiration from them.
– Most importantly, be body-positive both online and offline. Don’t shame others, and accept yourself as you are too.
While editing photos is fun, doing it all the time (to appear ‘perfect’) is simply unhealthy. You are responsible for your self-worth and that of your followers, too. Whether you abuse or utilise this privilege — the choice is yours.
Image Credit: Click here
Mahevash Shaikh is the twenty-something author of Busting Clichés. She loves to write, draw and laugh (among other things). You can find her using words and pictures to express herself and redefine the word "normal" at www.mahevashmuses.com.