I have recently discovered the joys of Instagram. Yes, much later than most people. Especially those younger than me who are now onto something else which hasn't even hit my radar yet. But never mind. I am enjoying discovering this visual brand of social media all the same. I have not made my account private (@debcyork if you are interested) because I thought it would be interesting to see what kind of people might 'like' my pictures.
So far, I have posted mainly pictures from dog walks and pictures of food. I tried one 'fashion' kind of picture but it made me terribly uncomfortable! The temptation, of course, is to copy the methods of those trying to make a living from Instagram and to make your photos look as perfect and gorgeous as possible. To say nothing of your life itself. And following all the people who do make everything look easy, perfect and beautiful does make you a little too aware of how unperfected, difficult and annoying many aspects of your own life are.
For example, tomorrow is my birthday. After watching a number of make-up tutorials - as advised by my daughter - I have settled on some apparently much needed up-to-date make-up as one present. I have also been seeing endless pictures of women in 'Bardot' tops roll by on my photo stream. You know, those off the shoulders, stretchy tops. So I determined to ask for one of these as well. Worrying about what I would end up with if the family were left to purchase this item without guidance, I have spent some time on trying on these garments. In a wide variety of shops. And almost none of them were even vaguely flattering. I have finally found one. But now I am left wondering how all these Instagrammers keep their chests in place under said tops...
I do wonder what someone like my ancestor who went to India with the army in 1804 would have put on Instagram if it had existed. If there is a human desire to say 'it's fine' and 'having a lovely time' whatever is happening, it would be funny to see what he would have posted. If he followed twenty-first century human behaviour, presumably it would be pictures of fabulous scenery, unusual animals, beautiful girls/boys and amazing food. Ignoring the illness, the appalling living conditions and the general nightmare of soldiering in that age. So we would be no wiser about how they managed even if we had access to such material.
All very frivolous. But I do have a more serious point. It seems to me that the more difficult and worrying our world becomes, the more we retreat into the pursuit of 'perfection' - that is, perfection as dictated by a relatively small number of our planet's inhabitants. Whether it be huge caterpillar eyebrows, equally huge bottoms or thick make-up for women. Or triangular body shapes, endless workouts and recipes for protein rich foods for men. ( Or a mixture of both for everyone.) We all want everyone to believe we are doing brilliantly at everything. Looks, decor, fitness, reading, crafts, cooking and eating, you name it. Never was the campaign for better awareness of mental health issues more needed. It is ok not to be ok.