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The Instagram vs reality trap

Social media can be motivating, exhausting and present a delusion of self comparison. We’ve all been there, scrolling when you see that perfect Insta model with her tiny waist and medically enhanced proportions, the guy in his new Range Rover or the couple who are on another free trip. Suddenly a feeling a dread washes over you, that you’re not even close to living a life like THEM.  You start compare to yourself, your life goals and even your relationships to these socially curated images. Welcome to the Instagram trap.

The reality of these images is that most of them are not what they seem. These images are a single moment; not a lifetime. These images are a business, a brand and a lifestyle. The purpose is to get attention, sell a product or service and make you want it. As someone who works creating these images for my personal brand and in collaboration with other brands (98% of which are turned down), it’s hard work.  My Instagram posts (here) are edited, planned out and take hours to perfect. The work and effort that goes into pre and post-production is unseen and the mishaps are unknown. The final product is to tell a story, show an achievement and convey a positive emotion.

The art of Instagram is a production, where we’re the leading role and we only show the best side of ourselves. This is not always the case, some Instagrammer’s will posts all aspects of their lives; not just the happy or desirable moments. When scrolling  through hundreds of happy, living-your-best-life pictures it’s hard to not compare.

Comparing your life for what it’s not, to a post you’ve seen is hard. The self judgment for how your life should be, to what it has been, is where your confidence drops off. The good news is that it’s normal, you’re just being human and exercising your emotional range, the hard part is to not get trapped by the facade of how something appears.

The shots below look like I was warm, happy and I wasn’t freezing cold when it started to snow. You don’t see my glamourious photographer yelling at me to, “suck in my gut and stick out my chest”. You don’t see the amount of pictures taken for a single Instagram post, or that the lighting was cloudy. You don’t see the passion I have for getting the perfect shot, the planning that went into this or the product shopping. You don’t see the funny moments, or that my ears got so cold they started to burn.

I’m not trying to sell you on a lie, I’m trying to sell you my outfit. Why? Because it’s cute, comfortable and warm (just not for 2 degrees and snow with no outerwear..) also, it’s my job that I love. There is more to an image then what is being shown, and it’s not always positive, effortless or fake.

So next time you start to feel inadequate because of an Instagram post, remember that it isn’t always how it seems. The people behind the camera and in front are humans, with feelings, they’re lives are not always perfectly happy and curated like the posts they show. They’re more like you and your life, which why I want to start incorporating more, “behind-the scene” posts on my Instagram.

The reality of Instagram is that there is more to the story, and you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.


Larissa Elle


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