. . . and I really don’t care for it!
I thought having an Instagram would help promote my art and my jewelry and while I’m gathering followers and whatnot, as a whole, I really don’t like the app.
Almost immediately I started having technical issues with it. I couldn’t upload pictures, I couldn’t tag pictures, my feed wouldn’t load. I couldn’t “explore” or search for other users. I couldn’t follow people. If I did manage to follow people, they would mysteriously vanish from my account. The first day I had Instagram, I deleted and re-downloaded it three times!
In addition to the technical problems, I really don’t like that all the suggestions that Instagram gives me “based on what’s popular in your country”, is ALL IN ARABIC!!! I live in VIRGINIA!!! IN THE US of FUCKING-A!!! WHY IS MY ENTIRE INSTAGRAM IN ARABIC!?!?!?!?!?!?
There’s no settings that I can change this either!!!!
I hate that I have to refresh the explore button every 20 posts or so to see anything new, unlike pinterest and facebook that just refresh as you scroll.
And this brings me to my biggest issue with Instagram. The posts. I liked a bunch of fitness and recipe posts and now my feed is being bombarded with “thinspiration”. For those of you who don’t know what “thinspiration” is, it’s thigh gaps, jutting collar and pelvic bones, visible rib cages, visible spinal columns. It’s anorexia, bulimia. It’s horrifyingly skinny women and endless lists of why you shouldn’t eat.
Some of the thinspiration posts I’ve seen:
“do it for the thigh gap”- First of all, I’m currently 213 pounds and I have a thigh gap. It all depends on your fat distribution and body physiology. It also depends on your muscles. I’m carrying a little extra weight than I would care to carry and I’m working on it BUT between volleyball, swimming, and MMA I have very toned and muscular legs and a thigh gap. This shouldn’t be a mark of “skinny”. If it is, then I’m a fucking anorexic.
“why reward yourself with food, you are not a dog”- Second, I will reward myself with food. I work really hard to eat clean. Lots of raw fruits and veggies. I try to limit my salt and my sugar intake. I try to keep my food as raw and unprocessed as possible and you know what? I will reward myself with food because if you don’t give into those cravings from time to time, you’ll end up eating half the kitchen trying to avoid those Oreos. I’m not saying go on a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson style cheat day and eat 100 pancakes but it’s OKAY to have a slice of pizza from time to time.
“waking up thinner is worth going to bed hungry”- Fun fact: Skip that meal and go to bed hungry and your body is probably going to go into starvation mode. When that happens, you’re more likely to GAIN weight than to lose it because your body is going to slow your metabolism down to conserve energy and make that body fat last.
“do it for the short shorts/crop top/bikini [insert any favored article of skimpy clothing]”- My boobs are huge, you wouldn’t catch me in a bikini or crop top even when I *was* 130 pounds. I have more respect for myself than to show off my body like that. I enjoy my denim shorts. I live in Virginia, summers are HOT and they’re HUMID, but I prefer to respect myself and dress in such a way that respects myself and my body, as well as flatters it. I don’t need to be showing my tits to get male attention. Showing miles of skin will get you plenty of attention but I guarantee you, not all of it will be positive.
None of these are okay. Period. I’m not trying to fat shame, slut shame, skinny shame, whatever the fuck you wanna call it. Is fat healthy? No. I’ll be the first to admit that. I used to be 250 pounds and I had a lot of issues with relationships, men, confidence, esteem. I didn’t like how I looked or how I felt and I lost weight. I’m still trying to lose weight but I know I probably won’t ever even get to 150. I know there’s plenty of people who are just naturally skinny. My mom’s one of them, one of my best friends growing up used to be distressed over her apparent inability to GAIN weight. I will never fault anyone for just being skinny but when you do have the means to control your life and your health, you should do so responsibly.
I found the thinspiration posts most disturbing because all I could think of were the little girls I see at the pool. The ones in my swim classes. Eight years old and they’re concerned with their “chubby legs” and won’t take off a tee shirt because they have a little belly. I don’t think there are many 8 year old girls on Instagram but if I had a daughter, I would want her to know that as long as she is eating right and active, she is perfect the way she is and Instagram and other social media sites allowing posts like this:
is doing more harm than good.
I used to be UNDERWEIGHT, believe it or not. My mom was a model when she was younger. 5’1 and 110 pounds. Growing up she was always telling me “that dress looks cute but it would look better if you lost 10 pounds”. I was never anorexic.
On the contrary, her constant commentary on my weight, even when it was healthy (12 years old, 5’5, 135 pounds), I used to look in the mirror and go “I think my tummy pooch looks cute” and I started eating to spite her and my weight ballooned until I had no control any more.
I know from first hand experience how easy it is for that one offhand comment or picture with 50,000 “likes” to send someone over the edge and Instagram and other social media sites have a responsibility, especially when you begin allowing children to use the sites, to protect them from those images.
I’m 25 years old now and I know that puking to lose weight is a bad idea. That eventually your period will stop if you lose too much weight or weigh too much.
I know that forcing myself to throw up is going to make my breath stink and that the stomach acid from doing so will rot my teeth. I know that junk food, high processed and sugary foods will do the same. I know that even my hair could fall out as a byproduct of malnutrition but I’m an adult. I know and understand the balancing act and the consequences of going to extremes. Kids don’t.
I remember when you had to be 18+ and in college to have a facebook and I would even go so far as to label social media sites abusive and neglectful for allowing body conscious posts and allowing children on their sites to be exposed to such images.
I know parents are just as responsible. I have friends who police their kids facebook page but it wasn’t so long ago that I was a kid and I had a myspace page and my parents didn’t know about it. Hell, they didn’t even know I had a deviantART page for that matter. I know kids will find ways around their parents and their rules. I did it. I was a pro at it, which is why social media has a responsibility to monitor the content that’s being posted.
I tried to report several of the posts I saw but Instagram declined to remove them. Popular culture, the media, Hollywood, they’re all responsible for the vast majority of exposure that we will receive. Go stand in the check out line at the grocery store and you’ll probably see dozens of magazine covers:
“[insert celebrite name] shares their weight loss secrets!”, [insert celebrity name] shares secret to MASSIVE weight loss!”, [insert celebrity name] scary skinny after massive 30 pound weight loss!”, “Get In Shape for Summer, [insert celebrity trainer] Shares Their Secrets to the Perfect Bikini Body!”
Isn’t it time, we as a society said “enough is enough”. We need to abandon BMI. It’s a mathematical equation and stop focusing on weight loss, fat or skinny, and focus on healthy. I certainly don’t want any kid of mine to feel inferior because of some “artistically” unfocused, heavily filter photo declaring that you don’t mean a damn thing if you don’t have a damn thigh gap!