Every day when I open Instagram, I scroll through stories and pictures of friends, family and classmates, as well as some random people I met one time. While I enjoy Instagram and view it as an excellent resource for entertainment and connecting with friends, it is also clear the use of the app leads to many feeling external pressures to look or be a certain way.
Instagram influencers, models and celebrities post heavily edited photos. They create unnatural appearances that can lead others to body dysmorphia. This approach has existed for years, with magazines often heavily editing photos of models. Now, apps like Facetune have made it possible for everyone to make themselves look better. The constant presence of perfection creates a dangerous standard and causes young people to feel insecure about their own looks.
To counter some of these pressures, an alternate "finsta" culture has emerged. Some college students use a "fake-insta" to post pictures that may not be appropriate for their family members or future employers to see. That being said, many people do not realize that, when posting on the internet, the consequences can be very real. Finstas have normalized outing people through social media. People will discuss their frustrations by naming those that have wronged them. This normalization leads to casual cyberbullying without the bullies giving it a second thought.
Recently, Instagram proposed the idea of removing users' ability to see likes on a post altogether. This move could be a step in the right direction and shows the company acknowledged that its site can be toxic at times. While hiding the number of likes is a start, it is also up to users to allow themselves to show the truth. Some celebrities like Jameela Jamil have begun to call out airbrushing on their own Instagrams. Jamil posted an image of her and showed how it contrasted with the original. Recently, Zendaya did the same and explained that she didn’t want to create an unrealistic ideal for beauty.
Besides minor airbrushing and editing, some Instagram users have taken their looks to an extreme level to impress followers. White women have recently begun to color their skin to extremely dark levels, to the point where they look to be of another race. This trend is called n*****fishing and is essentially the glorification of black face. Instagram influencers have even gone beyond just darkening their skin tone. They have gotten lip and face injections to look like other races. This trend is rooted in the outright fetishization of women of color.
While Instagram is a valuable resource, we need to be able to use it correctly. We should uphold an awareness that what we see on Instagram might not always be the truth.