by Hakim Faiz Baloch
I religiously scroll through my Instagram feed multiple times a day, each day. And yes, I have a justification for it – or as my inner degenerate calls it, a valid and acceptable reason – which is that it is a need.
Besides, my parents raised me right, for they taught me that wants require patience, but needs – glorious needs – require immediate attention and priority. For them, this included the need to acquire an education, the need to pee before a long car journey, the need to give every academic and sporting endeavor my all (etc.), with my personal additions of the need to eat and give in to my guilty pleasures. And one of those indulgences is visually taking in the plethora of slender limbs, memes, edgy compositions and tattoo inspiration that Instagram so generously provides.
But what has recently caught my attention is the trend of the expose-all Insta model. This fresh-faced, tone-limbed, effortless gazelle-like creature is transforming the landscape for all her flat stomached and healthy eating sisters. For under her watch, stomach rolls, body hair, cellulite, stretch marks and scars are becoming normal – accepted. Photoshop is becoming as outdated as clip-on earrings, and a pre-pubescent boy need only create an account to find out all that his sister is keeping secret in her diary. Eating disorders are normal, accepted and coached through with accounts like that of Hayley Kremer, a 20-year-old college student. Self-love is the new mantra, and a quick Google search will produce hundreds of articles and blogs with tips, experiences and general girl love, which figures like Chrissy Teigen epitomize. The general atmosphere is warm and fuzzy. Why is it then, that I feel cheated by the glitz and glamour of an entire industry being snatched away from me?
Never meet your heroes, they say. And this hypothetical ‘they’ might as well be all knowing, for nothing defines soul-crushing disappointment like building up a person in your head and having them careen a 360-degree transformation. Call me old-fashioned, but I like seeing a truth beyond my own through rose-coloured glasses. I want to escape to a place where painfully beautiful people do effortlessly amazing and creative things – where filters are a daily reality and metabolism a workaholic. A world where diet plans and gym workouts are religiously followed, and social activism is not such a double-edged sword. This is my time off from mind-numbing readings and essay panic – a place where I can unwind and detach for a while. And to have that rudely taken away is just a bit too heart breaking.
You simply wanted a few minutes of imagining life like theirs, a pleasant daydream, before returning to burning the midnight oil to achieve your own.
Without doubt, I am an advocate for the full-disclosure policy, transparency and honesty – and the warmth and self-acceptance that makes you wriggle your toes in bliss when you realise that models, movie stars, CEO’s and social media warriors, are just like you. You judge your flaws less and eat that slice of cake you’ve desperately been eyeing at the George Street Social. Everyone’s sense of self-worth is at the right equilibrium with his or her personal expectations and the rose-coloured spectacles are chucked aside.
However, a new problem arises. Where do you go to get away? All your idols and role models are inexplicably human, and very much like you. Their panic sweating and morning breath may even rival yours – but this sense of safety is like a short-term loan book from the SSL. You already knew that they struggled through early or later periods of life, and had that one break through that made them the person who now inspires you. This break through may have been a stroke of luck, or all the gears clicking into place. But it is no more than a story to you, just like all the other ‘how to be successful’ articles you read – it doesn’t apply entirely to your situation directly and the circumstances differ widely. You simply wanted a few minutes of imagining life like theirs, a pleasant daydream, before returning to burning the midnight oil to achieve your own. I want to think they have it easy, with no troubles of any sort, just to let the inner whining voice complain at the unfairness of it all, before I follow suit with the only common denominators – hard work and passion. The lack of such a routine will bore you, and with all exposed, you’ll want a new one – one more removed from your reality. But there won’t be any, unless a new species of supermodel with three breasts decides to evolve, or children begin to head multinationals. And thus is defined the struggle of an occupant of this 21st century world; the entertainment industry will either depress you enough to buy diet pills and the like, or prove unspectacular and bore you to death.
Featured image: Jhanyce Wilson Instagram, http://www.allure.com/story/model-posts-unretouched-instagram-stretch-mark-photo