Today I’m getting really real/honest about something that I’ve thought a lot about since starting H+H & the social media accounts that correspond to H+H.
Recently, I was contacted by a writer for the Crimson White at the University of Alabama, and she asked if I’d like to answer a few questions for an article she was writing focussing on how social media affects one’s body image & sense of self.
I’ve been wanting to address this topic for awhile now, so I figure this is the way to do it.
Being super honest with yourself & others about topics like this can be intimidating. My fear is why I knew I had to challenge myself to be really real in this interview! No fear, beebuses.
I’m not sure why celebrating our skills/abilities is so scary to many of us, but I definitely feel weird saying positive things about myself ( which y’all will read about in a sec! ). That was a hurdle I had to clear while answering these questions.
I mean, it’s one thing to be a total over-confident asshole… but you don’t have to be one of those to celebrate your tiny victories or acknowledge your achievements or your skill set.
Social media can be SUCH a powerful, inspiring, & exciting tool if we learn to use it properly. Sometimes, however, using social media can cause feelings of self-doubt or negativity, which is completely natural.
In my opinion, if you love yourself and get comfortable with your strengths & weaknesses, you can use social media to enhance your brand/blog/biz/life, and learn to celebrate others in the process.
You just gotta be chillin’ with yourself first, ya know what I mean?
In this post, I’ve included the interview Q’s that were directed at social media, its purpose, & the way it makes girls feel. I hope y’all can relate to my answers! I think she asked some important questions.
Not everyone will agree with me, and I totally get that! Please feel free to share any of your thoughts in the comment section. After years of critical thinking about things like beauty and the value of my personal external versus internal self, this is what I have landed on mentally.
Of course, my opinions are ever-changing, especially at this point in my life, but I feel that this interview reflects where I’m at right now!
Also, I’ll leave links to some genius TED talks ( aka: my obsession ) that address things like confidence & jealousy at the end of this interview!
Social Media and Body Image/Confidence Interview
Q: What do you want your social media accounts to “say”? How do you hope it is perceived by your audience?
My Answer: Every social media account is a little different, because followers on each platform want something a little different. I take this all into account. Overall, I’d like my social media accounts to provide some sort of inspiration to people, whether the inspiration pertains to healthy ( or unhealthy! ) meals, travels, outfits, makeup, experiences, etc. Of course, I like my accounts to reflect my brand and personal style, but it REALLY is all about the followers/readers/the audience, and how my content makes them feel.
Q: How does your perception of body image (both of yourself and others) make this easier or harder?
My Answer: Looking at social media as a creative outlet/place to connect with others has been KEY in not worrying about being perfectly perfect in all of my photos. DON’T post a picture for likes and validation… post photos because they inspire you, show off something you love or are proud of, share an experience, etc. It’s about expression, not validation, which is a concept that goes beyond the realm of social media, too.
Obviously, it’s easy to feel “lesser than” when scrolling through the BEAUTIFUL people that make up Instagram’s ‘elite.’ They’re fit, tan, beautiful, their makeup & outfits are perfect, they travel to the most amazing places and do the most amazing things. I think it is important to not compare yourself and your MESSAGE with these peoples’ ( because social media doesn’t reflect their REAL lives anyways! ). Love them, be inspired by them, tell everyone you know about how this girl on Instagram has the BEST BODY EVER & YOU ‘CAN’T EVEN DEAL’, but don’t compare yourself. And DON’T seek validation via social media… that’s never going to end up the way you want. Just have FUN with it!
Q: How do you deal with insecurity? How do you stay confident?
My Answer: Confidence is about knowing your brain, your heart and your soul. It doesn’t come from your shell.
From a comparison standpoint, I’m not a very competitive person, so other peoples’ looks or skills don’t usually threaten me. It doesn’t make me feel like any less of a person when someone is more attractive by contemporary social standard. I mean, I have definitely had feelings of being ‘uglier’ or lesser than people, but I don’t let those thoughts stay long. Sometimes, if I feel ‘uglier’ than someone or I’m lacking confidence in my appearance, I steer myself to think of the traits I posses that mean so much more than beauty, and those things make me feel powerful.
I have a lot to offer that I value much more than the way my body looks ( though I do highly value my health! ) or the way my face looks. I have the ability to inspire people, to think about interesting ideas & construct complex concepts, to create, to implement change in the world. These things make me feel much more powerful & confident than being ‘pretty’ on Instagram or Facebook.
Also, beauty is an opinion, so I accept the fact that there will be people who don’t find my face or body ( or whatever ) appealing. I’m not going to base my life on something that is purely opinion-based.
Q: Is there pressure to conform your “brand”? Do social fads and trends (such as fitness and thigh gaps for example) affect what you post? Does your perception of yourself affect “keeping up” with these trends?
My Answer: Of course I feel pressure in these ways! It is hard to not ‘conform’ to trends that show to work very well on Instagram, especially if it is your JOB! In business, when a company can spot a trend or mechanism that works and that is shown to produce a profit, they’re going to evaluate and try to apply those ideas to their own business! It’s based on growth and ability to be profitable. For bloggers/social media stars, this ‘profit’ comes in the form of money ( through working with brands or making commission on products ) or in the form of likes & follows ( which leads to making more money ). When I look at my brand from a business standpoint alone, following these trends seems to be an obvious go-to!
As a creative, however, I want to maintain my integrity while I run a my business. I have to strike a balance between paying the bills and standing up for what I truly believe in. Right now, because I still live as a college student on my parents’ dime, it’s easier for me to say no to things that don’t stand for what I believe in. I don’t HAVE to conform to things, because money really isn’t something that I NEED right now. So, I’m able to follow trends that fall within my brand without sacrificing my aesthetic or my message! Others don’t have this luxury, unfortunately!
Q: If you knew your audience felt insecure after viewing your account, would you change? Why or why not?
My Answer: I would NEVER want my audience to feel insecure, so this is something I’ve struggled with! Actually, I struggle with the thought of making others feel insecure in lots of areas of my life. Throughout my life, as many of us have experienced, I’ve had friends ( or people who weren’t friends ) act in jealous ways or tell me that I make them feel bad about themselves. As a response to this happening, I would try to make them feel okay about saying something positive about them ( a very healthy response to jealousy, by the way! ) but also something negative about myself. I carried a lot of guilt, and these negative thoughts of myself started to become a part of my actual self-inventory! I find myself qualifying anything that I think or say that is positive about myself by stating something negative about myself first. It’s messed up!
As of late, I’ve decided to NOT feel guilty about my strengths, whatever those strengths are. I don’t ever want to be cocky or overly-confident, but I shouldn’t try to ‘dim my shine,’ so to speak, because I start to believe my own negativity! Ultimately, I can’t entirely control the way people perceive me or how they feel about themselves. I can definitely do what I can share my personality/message/inspiration, and I can aspire to help people and to make them feel GREAT, but I won’t compromise my own worth and my own value for others anymore! We can ALL be beautiful in our own ways ( so cliche but so true ), we can all celebrate our strengths, and we can all celebrate these things in each other.
Q: Have you ever had a defining positive or negative experience with your body image? Does your social media reflect this in any way?
My Answer: Like most girls, I’ve always had a negative mental image of my body. No matter how much you work out or eat healthy, YOU see imperfection. There will always be imperfection. At this point in my life, for the first time, I don’t take these imperfections SERIOUSLY. I’m okay with them. I stay healthy and lead an active lifestyle for my INSIDES, because it makes me feel better. Consequently, when I started living this way, my body got ‘better.’ Now that I’m confident in myself, I don’t feel the need to hide things! Also, I appreciate my body for much more than its appearance, because all of our bodies are AMAZING ( seriously, the most perfect machines ). If I feel like sharing a picture in a swimsuit, I share that picture. If I like a photo from a shoot in a bra and underwear, I’ll post it. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have imperfections, it just means that these insecurities don’t hold me back from celebrating my hard work, my body, and/or pretty pictures with fun brands on social media!
From others leading healthy lifestyles, I find real inspiration in them posting photos of themselves celebrating their bodies. Even if their bodies are ‘better’ than mine, I want to celebrate their killer bods with them. All of our body machines are pretty amazing, if you ask me.
An Ode to Envy: Parul Sehgal talks candidly about how natural it is for us to envy others, and how envy is an important facet literature ( & goes on to talk about how to align ourselves with others to alleviate our jealous ways ).
Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are: I thought this was an interesting one on confidence. The first little bit is useful and applicable to life as a skill, but the last little bit is the part that really struck me. Amy Cuddy is a genius!
Lemme know your thoughts, babes!