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InstaPerfect: How Social Media Affects Your Standards of Normal
Have you ever been scrolling through Instagram or TikTok and found yourself watching reel after reel of women living the ‘perfect’ life, running the ‘perfect’ home, raising angelic children, working six-figure stay-at-home jobs, and making their own cereal all with perfect hair, makeup, and nails? And has an hour of scrolling left you feeling completely inadequate as you look around your home with pots on the side, never-ending laundry, a maze of toy dinosaurs and lego to navigate, working in a job that you do mainly because it pays the mortgage (just)?
Yeah, me too. Sat wondering how these women manage to ‘have it all’ without so much as a blemish on their skin while I’m running around like a headless chicken trying to make sure we don’t run out of milk and bread on the daily, breastfeeding a newborn, lucky if I’ve managed a shower at all this week.
Media pressure has forced women for generations to present a facade of perfection. The introduction of social media has exacerbated this need for apparent perfection and our need for external validation. Now, intimate details of our lives can be presented with whatever bias we choose to a worldwide audience for them to comment on unreservedly from their own perspective. No wonder the majority of us only want to present absolute perfection.
However, the InstaPerfect women are (largely) fictional creatures, and believing they are presenting permanently attainable standards is hugely damaging to the psyche of the average woman.
‘Average’ is a term that has come to have negative connotations and has become synonymous with terms such as ‘mediocre’ or ‘sub-par’ but in actual fact, the definition of ‘average’ is as follows
Average: noun – an amount, standard, level, or rate regarded as usual or ordinary. Qualities that are seen as typical of a particular person, group, or thing. A value midway between two extremes.
The truth is, life is hard. Whether you had a good upbringing or a challenging one, whether you are single or in a relationship, whether you work or not, have kids or not – life is hard. And that’s ok. That’s NORMAL. Maybe it shouldn’t be, it would be nice if life was easy, but it’s hard and that’s normal. Why are we making it even harder for ourselves by setting unattainable standards for each other and dragging each other down when we seem to fail to reach those standards? Why are we pretending that all our lives are InstaPerfect in a cycle of toxic femininity and criticising the way other women are living theirs?
It’s time to support each other in our struggle to keep it together and normalise the normal.
Here Are 10 Things I Learned in My Struggle (And Failure) To Achieve Perfection
1. It’s ok to work, it’s ok to be a stay-at-home mum, and it’s ok to work when you have kids.
No justification for either option is required, it’s just ok.
2. There will always be pots to wash.
3. Kids have tantrums.
Sod’s law dictates they are more likely to have them in a public place or in the middle of that important Zoom meeting.
4. We all will have freckles, or cellulite, or wrinkles, or grey hair, or stretch marks, or some loose skin – or in my case, all of the above.
I’ve had two kids and my body has done a remarkable thing, but it has taken a toll on my body and I’m not going to apologise for that to anyone. I’m simply going to buy bigger jeans.
5. Nothing is certain, except death, taxes, and laundry.
If you’re one of the women that can’t wear the same outfit twice – it’s time to invest in a washing machine and stop feeding the pockets of the fashion industry. Unless you work in couture fashion, no one really cares what you’re wearing providing it’s appropriate. I highly recommend trialing a capsule wardrobe – it’s amazing how less really is more. You can get a lot of outfit variations from a simple capsule wardrobe and getting dressed will become effortless.
6. Normal houses have marks on the wall and shoes by the door.
By all means, redecorate regularly, wipe the walls down, and have plenty of storage (if your modern new build allows for it) but it’s perfectly normal to have shoes by the door.
7. We are all getting older.
There has been a lot of noise lately about the difference in media representation of celebrities embracing signs of aging. George Clooney was celebrated for becoming a silver fox whereas Andie MacDowell was condemned. God forbid a woman ages at all. Kudos to Andie and all the others for embracing their natural selves.
8. We are a long way off from true gender equality.
To be honest, I’m not sure we will ever achieve it. In order for there to be true equality, we would need to acknowledge that differences between the genders aren’t opportunities for superiority. In addition, the insecurities that the current ‘balance’ impresses upon both genders pay into multi-billion dollar industries.
About the Author
Name: Catherine Platts
Professional Title: Building Surveyor
Bio: Catherine Platts is a qualified building surveyor working for a development company in middle management. She helps run her husband’s business in property improvement & renovations. She aspires to be an author and illustrator for a children’s book series. She has a history of abuse and a keen interest in empowering women and breaking down toxic gender stereotypes.
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