Which do you feed - your soul or your social media?
This was me around 20 years ago. I was about 24. I was having another go at modelling after doing quite a bit when I was a kid. A photographer who was well- known at the time suggested I could crack the European market. Pretty flattering, right? He then went on to say that I would probably need a nose job first because my nose was a little too wide.
Up until this point I had been quite happy with my nose. I was quite happy with who I was, but this incident made me question my looks and my facial features. It was like stamping a big sign on my forehead saying, ‘She’s not pretty enough.’
I confided in my dad who told me that if I changed my face, I would no longer be his daughter. It made me stop and think – what if I changed my nose and then someone said I needed bigger lips? Different eyebrows? Higher cheekbones? Where would it end? Who had the right to decide what was and wasn’t attractive?
I was smart enough to realise I was more than my looks and had more to offer the world than a perfect nose. That was the reality check I needed; right then and there I decided the modelling industry wasn’t for me, but I wonder how things would have played out if I had been younger and this incident had taken place in today's world. With social media just a click away, would my self-esteem have taken a battering? Would I, like many young females today, have scrolled through and compared myself to thousands of other people's strategically posed selfies? Would I have resorted to showing more flesh to gain popularity and take the focus away from my supposedly imperfect nose?
Young girls today have been sold a message that they can do anything, that their body belongs to them and nobody has the right to tell them what to do with it. It was a hard-fought battle by women of previous generations that brought us to this point and for the most part, it’s a positive message. But, with the popularity of social media and self-made celebrities like Kim Kardashian, many young females have taken this to mean that taking sexy, suggestive selfies is the way to claim this independence.
I’ve seen 12 and 13-year-old girls posting photos of themselves in g-string bathers, underwear and with plunging necklines. They're still children at this age! They are sexualising themselves in order to compete in the social media stakes. I understand some people share body images to illustrate how they overcame a health issue; that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the notion that young people buy into - sexual images buy social media popularity.
While some will say this is an example of their confidence and positive self-image (and I acknowledge that’s true to a degree), there are better ways of showing confidence than posting revealing pictures of yourself to gain adulation, followers and ‘friends’. Is the scramble to gain clicks and likes the new form of keeping up with the Joneses? And if it is, what is the cost?
Is this what we want the world to look like? Is this what we want to leave to our daughters and sons?
How different would social media and the world in general be if females showcased their intelligence and their passions instead of their body? How much kinder would the world be if they shared their life stories – their failures and their triumphs? How much stronger would woman be, and how much more emotional growth would this produce in the males in our lives?
There is more to femininity than cleavage and a sexy body. Share who you are and use social media as a tool to success and change rather than to win some superficial popularity contest. Your looks and body will change with age, this is inevitable, but your talents, passions, quirks and the unique essence of you will only strengthen with age if nurtured and allowed to flourish.
Remember, the thing you feed will grow strongest. Feed your soul because you can never subdue the appetite of social media.