Representation and social media

To tell the truth, I hadn’t really given social media all that much thought before discussing social media as part of a friend’s thesis research a few months ago. Since then, and especially with recent posts from other bloggers talking about the ways we represent ourselves online, I’ve found myself thinking about it more and more. I’ve got an Instagram account which I update regularly, and whilst I wouldn’t feel comfortable photoshopping my photos (both because of my inability to do so and because I don’t want to mislead my followers), I do generally try and take the photos in flattering lighting conditions/at flattering angles. Is this really just as bad? Granted, most of the photos on my Instagram are of food rather than my body, but am I being intentionally misleading by capturing my porridge in a particularly flattering light (seriously though, look at it! Heavenly!)? It’s not a question that has a definite answer, but it is an interesting one to consider.

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I’ve always been pretty aware of the way I present myself online, but this feeling has intensified since I began drama school a week ago. My reputation is my livelihood and I am aware how important it is to portray myself in a good light. However, it’s also important to portray yourself in one that is accurate too. Specifically regarding acting, I know of far too many actors who have had headshots taken which were then retouched to the point that the actor in the photo was unrecognisable. There’s no point to this as you’ll look silly once you get called to an audition and the panel realises you look nothing like your headshot. In non-acting situations, I know of people having photos touched up to this extent too. I heard a story, from a photographer, about a wedding she shot after which the bride made her retouch all the photos of her. Not to remove a stain, or a spot for example but to slim her down in every single photo. Again, she looked completely different to the woman in the photo by the time this was completed.

What is the point? If you don’t look like that, why manipulate your photos to make you appear to look that way? I used stains and spots as examples of features I think are acceptable to remove, as they are only temporary features of your appearance, but to remove a significant percentage of your body mass (or add some on) just strikes me as odd. We already have so many problems with the use of photoshop and how our bodies are portrayed by the media, so why should we inflict any further torment on ourselves? As a blogger, I feel a sense of responsibility to my readers, and I recognise that we hold positions of some power. I am a real person, who doesn’t always eat clean, who physically can’t run at the moment and who quite often feels insecure about my (lack of) dancing abilities. I want you all to remember that, when you’re scrolling through endless photos of granola and smoothies. I have frequently gone to take a photo of my meal and then decided it doesn’t look anything like appetising enough to share with the world. Additionally, I have ordered dominos for dinner and not Instagrammed it because I didn’t feel there was any point to it…but I don’t want to misrepresent myself and act as though this hasn’t happened! I don’t want to make people feel that the version of myself that I portray online is completely unobtainable, I just try to live my life well and not care too much about what others think. Don’t feel bad about yourselves because of things you’re seeing online- it’s important to allow yourself to relax and enjoy occasional treats!

If you’re finding yourself obsessing over someone’s “perfect” life on Instagram, you’d do well to step back and remember that things aren’t always what they seem. Concentrate on enjoying your life, and making healthy changes within it, rather than altering all your photos. It isn’t worth the time or the effort, and eventually you’ll look back and wish you’d left them as they were.

Sorry that this ended up being such a serious post, I will try and make my next one more light hearted!

Until next time!

x

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