I am not going to lie, I have a love/loathe relationship with Instagram. I despise the ever-changing algorithm that works more in the favor of businesses paying for ads than it does it’s regular users yet I love the ability to curate my favorite photographs.
I loathe the obsession with posting the perfect picture every time, but I love that I get to share my photography and posts with others.
I think more than ever, though, I’ve been struggling with perception. Not even necessarily how I want to be perceived because although my Instagram is curated and edited, it’s still me and how I’d like to express myself. What I mean is the perception that others have of me when seeing my posts.
For example, one our way home after spending time with our family, I somehow started thinking of this pastor’s wife who is always so stylish. Every photo is perfect with not one hair strand out of place, she’s normally always smiling or doing something quirky and wears the nicest clothes. I was reminded of how some people view her as being full of herself for the way she dresses or criticizing her for painting an image of Christianity that seems more about appearance.
Then I thought of myself.
Yes, I am not as stylish and I have never proclaimed to be a fashionista. I wear what I like and when I’m really into what I’m wearing, I put it on again and photograph it. But these are outfits I actually wear either at work or on the weekend for fun.
However, I began to wonder if anyone ever looks at my posts and feels that way? If they look at my photographs and think I’m doing it for appearances or painting an image that is doing more harm than good?
How am I being perceived and what feeling do people get when they come across my Instagram? Do they feel good about themselves or edified? Do they feel that they’re chatting with a friend or do they feel down about themselves?
It’s starting to get me thinking because while I do have a private Instagram page where I share photographs that are a less curated and more random, I wonder what people I know in real life and those that I don’t know are thinking when they come across my page.
I know this sounds cliche’, but my life is far from perfect or curated. I use my blog’s Instagram to share photographs related to my blog posts. However, behind the scenes I still go through things, I still struggle with body image and wrestle with things. I may not share them on social media, but I do like we all do.
I never want anyone to look at my Instagram and think that’s how my life is lived all of the time. Sometimes my house is messy because I’ve been too tired to clean all week.
Sometimes, I am wearing hoodies and sweats because I’m tired, cold, and just feel like wearing something cozy.
Sometimes, my hair in a bun or I’m wearing my natural curls or it’s in a side braid.
Sometimes I’m rocking a bold lip and other times I’m bare-faced, imperfections and all.
Sometimes, I am not feeling so positive and upbeat.
Most of the time my hair isn’t well put together or curled. In fact, most of the time it’s wind-blown and probably the thing I put the least time or attention to.
The truth is, I share these curated images because I like the way they look. I like the idea of creating something that resembles a collage of photos were the images are cohesive for the most part.
I decided to step in front of the camera to help me better understand posing for when I eventually try to shoot photographs of others and also to try to boost my confidence a bit.
I choose to take photographs because they fit the narrative of the post I’m sharing. The photographs help supplement the information I am desiring to share and lets you, the reader, hopefully see how it’s being used or worn. I know I always appreciate posts that show me how something is used or styled, so I can imagine myself using it or wearing it. To me, it made sense.
Honestly, I don’t enjoy taking photographs of myself. I am normally feeling uncomfortable or awkward in front of the camera at first and need warming up or I am trying to hype myself up through it. However, I think my confidence has been growing a bit, because on those days that I’m shooting content, I have to decide to let my insecurities show on camera (because oh, boy will they) or embrace them and grow to find them endearing.
In fact, it’s one of my least favorite parts, but it’s a part I believe is necessary as it builds confidence, helps me show my audience how something is used, and it allows me to have photographs of my own to supplement the information I am sharing.
I hope that you never feel less than fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. I hope you never look at my photographs and feel that my life is perfect because it isn’t. I struggle and wrestle with things. Everything doesn’t always go as planned and I don’t capture every moment in life, so there’s things that people often don’t see that are experienced.
I hope when you look at my account you see a young woman who’s growing more in her photography, learning more about her identity and purpose, seeking to be more in the moment and sharing her favorite photos along the way.