With social media so prevalent in our daily lives, we spend too much time comparing ourselves to others — what we have, what we don’t have, the sizes of our waists, our relationship statuses and the clothes we wear. Platforms such as Instagram expose young men and women who portray these dream lives that many of us wish we could live. These influencers appear to have endless amounts of money, friends and free time, all while living in gorgeous beach-front mansions sometimes filling us regular people with feelings of inadequacy.
But we do not have to allow these people to rule our lives. We don’t have to wish we looked like them or lived their lives, because what they share on social media isn’t always an accurate depiction of who they really are. Social psychologist and Chapman Professor Marina Kahana shares advice on how to talk back to the insecure thoughts that may arise from viewing enviable images on social media.
Reaction: “Her body is so much better than mine.”
Reality: “She probably has her own self-esteem issues and uses social media as a way to gain security in her own skin.” – Professor Kahana
It is unlikely that she came strolling off the beach from being attacked by the ocean’s waves, looking like this. There is likely a team of people behind the camera, working to make her look like a perfect sea goddess. As quoted from Denise Bidot, a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, “the ‘glow’ the models have is actually makeup and body oil.” This photo was most likely uploaded to Photoshop where it was airbrushed and edited for hours.
Reaction: “I wish I had their lifestyle and money.”
Reality: “Everyone thinks that the life that people are posting are their real lives; it’s really just a created life that you show people.” – Professor Kahana
Kylie and Kendall Jenner grew up from a life of luxury. They inherited wealth and grew their fame from a reality TV show. It’s their job to make their lives look more glamorous than the average person. The majority of the relationships they have formed are fake and filled with drama. Instead, focus on surrounding yourself with people who you can count on and will be there for you.
Reaction: “I wish I was 22-year-old with a G-Wagon and a Lamborghini.”
Reality: “People become jealous of other people’s lives and lash out negatively to feel gratitude.” – Professor Kahana
Many influencers make their money off of sponsored items to promote brands. The cars and accessories that are shown in many pictures most likely do not belong to the model. They are using these materialistic things as staging, to make it seem that these products will confer a glamorous life. In this instance, the ad by Coca-Cola wants to persuade you that if you drink Coke, your life will be just like his. Don’t believe the hype.
Reaction: “Why can’t I find a boy who looks like that?”
Reality: “What social media doesn’t show is that you may be in a fight with your boyfriend, or you may be getting bad grades, and nothing is really as perfect as it seems.” – Professor Kahana
Taking a picture with airbrushed models does not depict real life. This image has been staged and a makeup artist has tanned these models to perfection. Cellulite, acne and other skin conditions are easily covered up to make them appear flawless. Just because someone is wealthy or attractive does not make them a good partner for a relationship. If you long for a relationship, avoid using other couples’ pictures on social media as inspiration for your own.
Reaction: “I will never find love unless I look this perfect.”
Reality: “They are all curating their reality. That means that they aren’t sharing the bad days that they have with their boyfriends (or girlfriends), they aren’t sharing the fights, or even the little things that annoy each other. Instead, they’re taking photos of what looks like a perfect, idealized relationship.” – Professor Kahana
Couples rarely post pictures of themselves on Instagram in which they are fighting or not looking their best. Their goal is to make their relationship look perfect, but this is not what real relationships are about. Relationships are messy and involve being there for each other when you’re not at your best. A lot of times, Instagram couples are set up because of their attractiveness and ability to promote and sell products. Seek out someone whose personality shines rather than just their facial features.