A few months ago I published a blog post about my thoughts on social media; that complaining about the platform is not the key to success. And still, I stand by my words 110%.
Although, as I like to be as honest as possible on this blog, there’s something I must admit…
My body confidence in the blogging world hasn’t always been the most positive.
So here goes:
The thing I’ve truly come to realize in recent months is that social media and travel blogging, in particular, is totally saturated with incredibly beautiful, white, slim figured, put-together, stunning women who wear high-end clothing in every image they post…
Their feeds are beautifully curated to be what everyone “dreams of”. And to be honest, I have respect for each and every one of them as I know their achievements has been reached with hard work. But like most people that use these platforms, seeing the constant perfection of these highlight reels can leave a massive toll on your mental state.
It’s damaging, to say the least, to think that perhaps in order to ‘succeed’, female bloggers have to fit into a particular societal standard. It seems like a totally irrational thought, but in the last few weeks, I’ve seen more and more upcoming bloggers talk openly about their opinions on this topic.
When I first started, I was a firm believer that people can do well in this field, regardless of their appearance. That everyone was just overreacting and that being an “influencer” had nothing to do with looking like a model.
But the more that I delved into the world of social media, the more I realized just how ignorant these statements were…
When you look at all the big influencers, nearly all of them have what society likes to call the “perfect figure”; thin with a flawlessly symmetrical face, beautiful clothing and a look that always seemed to be so put together.
They look like they have it all figured out – well at least that’s what Instagram likes to portray anyway.
We see the perfect moments of everyone’s lives, whilst hardly ever seeing the times that may not be so glamorous. We see the moments that those people want us to see… The ones that they are most proud of.
As an Instagram user myself, I actually found it pretty easy to recognize that Instagram isn’t reality. I knew it. For me, the problem began when I started posting for my blog and curating a feed that I was proud of.
I quickly began to notice that my photos only did well if they had me in it and when I was wearing something feminine and flattering. By observation, I realized that so many amazing accounts weren’t getting the exposure they deserved because their bodies didn’t fit a particular standard…
I slowly discovered that the accounts that grew the quickest were the ones that fit the description of what the users desired; the white women who own hundreds of bikinis and spend their days laying on a beach in the Maldives or dancing around the rice paddies in Bali.
I guess these accounts become popular because that’s what so many users dream of – it’s a form of escapism. But unfortunately, that’s not real life.
So after constantly seeing these accounts circulating, I realized that it was slowly taking a toll on what I thought about my own content. I caught myself looking at photos of myself and not being happy with my body, or the clothes I was wearing or the way my hair was done.
I weigh around 50 kg… I’m very healthy, I don’t think I’m overweight or underweight and for the most part, I’m very happy with who I am.
But there’s absolutely no doubt that sometimes I have those moments in the back of my head that make me think “Maybe I’m not pretty enough for this”, “Maybe I shouldn’t post this because my clothes look weird or my hair isn’t done”.
Regardless of how many people give compliments, I’m still going to question it. I guess that’s just a part of human nature… Body confidence isn’t something that comes naturally.
So even though I know that I’m worthy of being happy in my own skin, social media likes to put a nice spin on things.
It likes to throw us in the deep end when we least expect it…
There’s no questioning that travel blogging is the best thing I’ve ever done, but it’s totally put into perspective just how damaging it can really be. For the first time in my very privileged life, I’ve caught a glimpse into the way that millions of people feel when they search through the internet.
It’s made me realize how whitewashed this industry is, and how privilege plays such a huge role in your success.
I now know (to an extent… My whiteness is a privilege) how it feels to scroll through social media at the millions of model-like people and compare every inch. That platforms like this are the exact reason that body confidence has plummeted in the lives of so many men and women around the world.
Unfortunately, for a brief moment, I thought that maybe they were right… Maybe good looks are the real backbone of success in this industry.
And then I snapped out of it.
I realized that in that moment, I was doing exactly what society manipulated me to do; to think that I’m not worthy of following my dreams because my body isn’t perfect.
Well here’s the thing! The shape of my body means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. I am healthy, I am strong-minded and what I portray in the world is far more valuable than how my butt looks in a bikini.
My body isn’t what makes me beautiful, my mind is.
So now more than ever, I want to be the person that makes people feel positive about themselves online. I don’t want to be someone that shows only the beautiful, perfect moments in order to glamourize my life.
I know that I’m totally part of the problem – I’m a white, slim woman who travels to amazing countries and the reason I have the ability to do that is solely based on my privilege.
But as I’ve said many times before, I don’t ever want to be known online because of my physical appearance, but maybe I will never be able to escape from that.
I want people to feel like I’m relatable. I want people to see this blog as one that is using their privilege for good rather than constantly abusing it. I want people to be able to scroll through social media without instantly comparing themselves or their lives to what they see on their screen.
I am not perfect. I often feel insecure. I am human.
Blogging may seem like a glamorous job, but it’s a tough competition against people that always seem to be two steps ahead.
I think this experience has allowed me to discover that negative body image is something that occurs to everyone, even to those who you would least expect it. I’ve totally come to realize that social media does have a dark side, and it’s up to those who use it with a purpose, to do so in a way that empowers more than discourages.
Maybe I’m getting way too ahead of myself. I know that I’m always going to be part of the problem because of my appearance and my privilege…
But I guess all that I can do is try my best to use my platforms wisely and to use my power responsibly.
But please remember that your body doesn’t define you!
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