On body confidence and Instagram

For a while, I didn’t really ‘get’ Instagram. I’ve been addicted to Twitter since 2008 and it suits my propensity for sharing snippets of sarcasm rather well. It’s a lot like my blog used to be, but with a much lower character limit. I’ve whined about every update they’ve made to how Twitter works but, ultimately, I love it to bits and doubt I will ever leave. Instagram, on the other hand, seemed endlessly confusing.

Much like my opinion of the iPad when it first launched, I couldn’t work out what anyone would use it for. Plus, I’d been addicted to lomography for a number of years and this app just seemed to be a way for people to make photos taken on their phones look like they might have been shot on the sort of crappy analogue camera that I loved. To be honest, I’d spent a fair bit of time and money on my photographic hobby and was a bit pissed off that people were copying it for free. (Yes, I know, I liked out of focus and badly framed photos of my feet, my lunch and graffiti in back streets way before it was cool.)

Then they released the app for Android, so I tried it and found that it reignited my love of photography. Snapping photos and sharing them was much quicker than it had ever been, and I didn’t need to accompany every image with links and stories. It could just be an image, for the sake of loving something visual. For someone who loved sharing information, Instagram was still somewhat baffling though. How could anyone use it to grow their blog or promote their brand? You couldn’t link direct from images, captions or comments… but I think that’s what made me fall in love with it in the end. For me, this simple format cut out the noise. I followed friends, folk I knew from Twitter, bloggers, brands and celebrities but it was only the images that kept me interested.

Now, I love Instagram, but as well as my best friend it is often my worst enemy. I love scrolling through an endless stream of beautiful, funny and inspiring images that is available to me anytime anywhere. But the dark side can be all encompassing. Instagram appears to be full of slim young women with perfect hair, perfect skin, a photographer following them to every cool place they go, always with perfect lighting and a never ending supply of attractive friends. It’s bad enough when they’re fully clothed and brunching with their perfect girl gang, but when they’re posing in their undies it can sometimes be a little soul destroying.

Because I love lingerie, I’m often drawn to the accounts of women who also love underwear. I’ve learnt many things in my 42 years on this planet but, sadly, total body confidence isn’t yet one of them. I like to think I’m comfortable in my skin, but some days too many images of women with perky breasts and minimal body fat can leave me feeling like I’m… wrong. When I stand with my feet together, my legs touch all the way down. I have soft squishy back fat that bulges over my bra band. But not only do these young slim women often not need support and never experience the digging in of those pretty bra straps, many of them don’t even realise that these things may be considerations for others.

It’s not that I hate these feeds – I love them. I wish I’d been as confident in my skin at their age. I just need to remind myself that I need balance. For every excited 21 year old lingerie designer who models her own work, I need to follow a 30-something with stretch marks. For every toned midriff, I need to see one that has squish. A quick scroll through the accounts I follow, looking for beautiful diverse bodies and messages of confidence, left me full of joy once more. If you feel like you need some of this too, here are my recommendations of lovely people to follow:

Main image via the wonderful Gabi Fresh. The other images are screenshots of The Confidence Corner and Playful Promises‘ Instagram feeds.

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