Why The Perfect Instagram Life Is Totally Overrated

A typical Saturday on Instagram looks something like this: runny egg yolk, iced coffee, cupcakes, flowers, more iced coffee, nail art, more cupcakes, and a perfectly crafted martini. It can start to feel like everything in your feed is filtered, Photoshopped, and, overall, fake. As more and more women turn to social media to develop their personal brand, posed shots seem like a requirement for success, rather than one type of self-expression.

"That side of Instagram drives me crazy," says Instagram influencer Jessica Anteby, the woman behind the popular account, Beige Cardigan. "I'm very into fashion, and that's where I've worked most of my life, so when Instagram came out, I wanted to jump on it for the fashion side, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't be one of those girls who crossed the street and posed in the middle and Photoshopped everything that they do."

Instagram star, Essena O'Neill, who made a living styling such poses, has since renounced the lifestyle. The Australian influencer made global headlines last year when she reedited captions on her Instagram photos, revealing the unglamorous reality of trying to live a glamorous Instagram life. In one photo, where she's posed in a beautiful white gown, O'Neill wrote, "NOT REAL LIFE — I didn't pay for the dress, took countless photos trying to look hot for Instagram, the formal made me feel incredibly alone." O'Neill no longer has any social media presence.

On its own FAQ page, Instagram doesn't seem to support that idea of perfection that's proliferated on the platform: "We're building Instagram to allow you to experience moments in your friends' lives through pictures as they happen," it says. And, "Instagram is a fun and quirky way to share your life with friends through a series of pictures."

Where is that fun quirkiness if everything on your feed comes up as pretty, pink, expertly posed roses? Striving for the perfect picture isn't a bad or unreasonable goal, but it does take away the joy of seeing a diverse range of images from friends, influencers, and public figures. It also sets a stressful bar to meet.

So stressful, in fact, that a new kind of Instagram account has emerged in the past couple of years. Known as "Finstagrams" (fake Instagram accounts), these are locked accounts where users post all of the unposed shots, the real shots, that they only want their closest friends to see. Shouldn't the fake accounts be the ones with posed shots and not the other way around?

With that in mind, we're making a case for imperfection on Instagram. Show us your chipped manicures, your completely delicious but messy homemade eggs Benedict, and your candid smiles. Let's bring some reality back to a platform that, while beautiful, looks more like a catalog than an honest portfolio of favorite brunches and summer days. After all, what we want to remember are candid moments captured with friends, not the tediousness of composing a perfect, but fake, picture. If that doesn't convince you, think of it this way: at least your eggs won't get cold while you're busy framing the shot.

In this week's
Strong Opinions, Loosely Held — Refinery29's new weekly podcast hosted by Elisa Kreisinger — we tackle the topic of Instagram insecurity. Listen via SoundCloud or download the episode on iTunes here.
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