Every so often, I get a bee in my bonnet about something. It is usually quite inconsequential, but it seriously affects me. I have come to realise that my blog is the best platform to pen my honest thoughts and deal with my feelings. Many people won’t agree with me, and few may read this post, but if I find a single kindred spirit who shares my sentiments, then I have succeeded.
Yesterday, while scrolling through Instagram (the death knell of mental health!), I came across a ‘famous influencer’ with a massive following (in terms of numbers), through a shoutout given by another blogger. Without naming names, I’ll give you a background of what I saw. Her claim to fame is that she is a ‘feminist’ and she advocates ‘body positivity’. One of her posts had me analysing this Instagram scam- when she advocates body positivity with her perfect body, it actually amounts to body shaming others who feel inadequate in comparison.
BODY POSITIVITY OR BODY SHAMING?
Wikipedia defines ‘body positivity’ as “a social movement rooted in the belief that all human beings should have a positive body image, while challenging the ways in which society presents and views the physical body.”
Body shaming on the other hand is when a person is harassed for being overweight/underweight or derided for any aspect of their physical appearance.
The influencer I refer to here, had posted a picture of herself naked with the exception of bikini bottoms and a couple of fruits strategically covering her chest. The caption, completely at odds with the picture, talks about why she prefers spreading the message of feminism and body positivity over tackling more serious social ills. I agree with her caption, as I believe people have the right to advocate whatever causes they want, without stepping away from their larger beliefs. However, there are many things I disliked about her post (and those of countless similar ‘influencers’):
- The naked picture was clearly a ploy for grabbing eyeballs. Of the 5000 odd likes she had received, perhaps only 5-10% were from people that read and agreed with her caption.
- She posed with her legs slightly apart and her hips jutting out at the back, which gives the illusion of a more slender body than one actually has. I know this because I have attempted the same, occasionally! Which means that the picture wasn’t a true representation of the girl’s body.
- An eye-catching location and good camera-work helped in making this picture its best possible version.
- In any case, she is young and fit and quite different from the average Indian woman.
Far from the claim of feeling happy about myself after looking at her picture, I only felt bad about my own 30-something-year old mother’s body. Later, I realised that she may not be comfortable in her own skin if she resorts to aforementioned posing and photography skills.
I know what you’re thinking- I’m just jealous and insecure. Of course, I am! Before looking at her picture, I was absolutely fine with my body, which is the real test of body positivity. Looking at her naked confidence made me feel completely inadequate. It had me questioning why I wanted to write/blog/compete in this online space! This incident is a prime example of why Instagram is dangerous for the state of one’s mental health.
I don’t mean to say that only unfit people have the right to advocate body positivity. As influencers, we can inspire people to be confident in their own skin without showing off our own, which necessarily leads to unreal comparisons. No one knows what the person is actually like behind the camera! How can you compare yourself to a picture?
If you really want to spread the message of body positivity, do it through word and deed instead of an edited and perhaps fake photograph.
THE INSTAGRAM SCAM:
I have been promoting my writing on Instagram for about 18 months, and have accumulated only a minuscule following in that time. Every time I see a photo of this kind, here’s the thought process that goes through my mind. I first think- this person has a large following, even though she’s not saying anything new or being extra creative. Next, I conclude that people attract numbers by shedding their clothes. Third, I consider being provocative in order to attract more followers. That’s when sense finally hits me. I am not provocative and I will not resort to sensationalism to put my work out. I am a writer, and I will continue to write what I feel and what makes sense to me. Whatever happens, I know that my writings will outlast the forever-changing trends on Instagram.
As a confident, well-educated writer, if I can feel insecure looking at these so-called ‘influencers’ dictate false terms of ‘body-positivity’, then what must hordes of other women feel?
It is high time we changed this. We need to beat down this great Instagram scam. That girl feels the only way she reaches a wider audience is by showing off her body. Let us collectively enable a responsible online environment where one’s intellect and talent speak louder than one’s physical appearance. Can we do that, please?
DISCLAIMER: These are my personal thoughts and must not be attributed to anyone else. You may disagree with me and I respect that. Please be respectful of my opinion too.
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