FEAR AND LOATHING ON INSTAGRAM

I was having a quick scan through my Instagram feed the other day and, not for the first time found myself a pouring over images of ‘clean-eating tips’ (the clean bit is to cut out a considerable amount of damn tasty and often healthy products) and ‘quick effective exercise moves’ from various health and fitness gurus.

I spend more minutes analysing the exercise videos and the blurbs that follow. Of course the (mostly female) fitness gurus in question have their hair perfectly coiffed, makeup precisely (and usually, heavily) applied or alternatively their skin is ‘glowing’, courtesy of some magic from photoshop, and in some cases they advertise their workout wardrobes.

Likewise, the food-grammars regularly use hastags such as #cleaneating #healthyeating and so on matched with pictures of admittedly some tasty looking dishes containing pulses, quinoa, various fruit and veg, and then some more veg.

It’s fantastic to see so many women doing well in the health and fitness sector, and significantly using the Internet and social media as a tool to promote their work. But what I wouldn’t give for a little less gloss and a bit more reality to these videos. You know, a mop of hair scraped off the face as they lunge because they haven’t had chance to wash it (because let’s face it, why wash your hair BEFORE your workout), a face free of make up (as I’m sure that sweating that much whilst wearing makeup isn’t meant to be all that beneficial to your skin), lighting akin to what normal lighting is like in a gym (i.e., stark and unforgiving), and someone wearing a sports kit that doesn’t match, and sags in all the right places.

But then my line of thinking would completely diminish the objective of these health and fitness gurus. They are invariably selling a lifestyle and aim to ‘inspire’ thousands if not millions of followers. Hey, at various points I’ve been sucked in (read: inspired) by their teachings.

It goes without saying that the idea of eating and living healthily shouldn’t be discouraged. For instance, from a young age I was encouraged to participate in sporting events at school and now some years later working out is part of my life. A part that I enjoy. And like many other women, I have been raised on a heady cocktail of western body image conscious idealism and glossy magazines which reaffirm advertising ideals: be slim, oh and have good skin. So yes, some of the idealised images have influenced my thinking/decision-making over the years.

It also goes without saying that we have a choice over what we read/see on much of social media, I could just unfollow these gurus or even deactivate my Instagram account. But I guess my beef (is this allowed in a clean diet?) lies in two areas of this growing clean living/lifestyle phenomenon:

1.The reality behind the blogs

The images that are presented largely match the glossy, hyper-real images that we see in industry magazines/websites. So they also blur the lines between reality and a stylised lifestyle. They are more reality as we should know it.

2. If you’re not following the messages presented, you are somehow ‘unclean’

The idea that if you are not following these messages then there is something perhaps dirty about your own lifestyle, because you enjoy eating crisps or if you don’t work out each day or even every other day.

PSDP0Q5WHT

I know that Instagram has come in for some criticism from other bloggers in recent months due the nature of its use; some users are able to make a fortune through advertising and have ultimately found that this is a soulless pursuit. But for me, I originally set up an account to share a few snaps of places I had been on holiday to family and friends and they were mostly of random but beautiful landscapes.

So although it isn’t a goodbye to Instagram I have decided to trim some fat and have cut out the #cleaneating and #exercise from my Instagram diet. And do I miss it? Nope.