I read something very disturbing on HuffPost the other day titled Instagram Influencers Are All Starting To Look The Same. Here’s Why. "Not only are individuals styling themselves like each other," the author wrote, "but they’re also editing their photos using the same tools. For instance, an app like Facetune allows users to smooth their skin and/or make their eyes appear bigger and brighter.
"At present, it’s all about the Kardashians and what some have called “The Kardashian Effect” ― i.e., “the Kardashians’ ability to influence consumer habits.” Kylie’s influence over beauty trends has helped her create a billion-dollar beauty empire."
The point of the article is that many Instagram fashion or beauty influencers are using makeup, filters, and instant access to trends to look alike. There's a lack of celebration of diversity unless you seek it out. The issue, of course, is that we are not talking enough about what these social media messages mean for young women - mainly when they involve the smoothing out of racial and ethnic features to look like each other.
Once upon a time, I was a woman who planned what I wore every day. I didn't leave the house without makeup. When I was in my early 20's and had more spending money, I shopped non-stop. I bought some crazy stuff then, too! I didn't have social media influencers to follow 13 years ago, though, just the trends I saw around Burlington and in the stores.
Later, as I hit my later 20's, had a family, moved back down to the Upper Valley, and, as an "adult" had far less extra money, I became a master thrifter. Ok, obsessed thrifter.
I had to be. I couldn't be leaving the house dressed poorly... or - still - without makeup. I yo-yo'd with my Weight Watchers "lifestyle" too, trying to stay skinny.
May 2013 - Always trying to look perfect
And then, something happened.
I overheard my young daughter; she must have been about four at the time, say something about "being fat." It horrified me to my core. At nine, she still talks occasionally about feeling fat. I tried never to say another word about anything but trying to eat healthier (HI sugar addict here).
And then, something else - when she was approximately 5.5 yrs old, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Over the past three and a half years my health has become a constant battle as I struggle to get outside, to visit with friends, even to handle getting dressed. Bye-bye to the woman who couldn't leave the house without getting dressed or her makeup done, hello to the woman who was lucky if she had been able to shower that day.
I hope you're still with me dear reader, I am getting to my point, and it has to do with all of us.
No need for me to go into what fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are like in this piece; except know that it means exhaustion like no other, pain, brain fog, and a frequent inability to leave the house.
So. I bounced to the other side of the "fashion" spectrum. I tried to stop caring. Unless I was going out somewhere, a rare thing, I never wore makeup, even just for fun, and hardly reached past my leggings and t-shirts in my closet. And I started leaving the house less often. And feeling worse, both healthwise and about myself.
Of course, I still put my "best" self out there on social media and was extremely selective regarding any photos of myself. Because I, too, had fallen prey to the idea that we must look perfect on any form of social media.
However, my version of looking "perfect" on my social media was not the same idea as so many of these bloggers have. I've never thought myself capable of that kind of perfection, but I noticed this issue of "sameness" myself when I started following several fashion bloggers. It was part of the impetus for this blog.
In the Upper Valley, we still live in a bit of a bubble. Yes, we have access to all of the same social media, but not all the same stores. We also have artistic communities and programs both in and out of school that pushes youth to think outside the box.
I have watched the fashion in the Upper Valley for most of my life, now is the time to celebrate it. We need to be honoring our differences, our versions of ourselves that we display to the world.
When I decided to start this blog, I also decided it was time to be honest on all my social media, particularly Instagram, so one day when I was waiting for my Dr., I took this OOTD and posted it.
The face of fibro fashion.
And, while many people either liked it or ignored it, I did get some very negative comments on the photo which I deleted.
So Upper Valley, let's band together to celebrate our gorgeous selves, who look fabulous in so many different ways. Let's revel in our diversity and show that the world doesn't have to be insta-same to be beautiful.
- The Woman in the Sweatpants
Send your OOTD photos to firstname.lastname@example.org