“Yeah, you! You’ve got an ugly mug, you’re uncool, and you’re a loser.”
“Hey, hey, hey! Relax. You’re in luck because I’ve got this brand new product that’ll make you cool again. You’ll get the acknowledgement you’ve always craved. You’ll finally be happy!”
“All you have to do is make three payments of $19.99, plus $3.75 in shipping and handling!”
“And,” the voice whispers, “you’ll just be another fool whose insecurities help to bring in the cash!”
“Oh, no! You misheard me. I said, ‘You’ll finally be cool and you’re insecurities will disappear in a flash!'”
That italicized voice goading us to purchase “bits and bobs,” as my British friend would call it, to compensate for our so-called “shortcomings” is not only a presence in this article, but almost everywhere in your own life.
You might be asking, “Where?”
Well, when I was younger, this tacit, yet booming voice permeated billboards, magazines, and most commonly, TV screens. Many advertisements and commercials flashed before our eyes with dazzling products, particularly within the beauty and tech industries, implicitly awakening our deepest insecurities.
But now, as we all begin to abandon our TVs and flock to the internet, that italicized voice – the “powers that be” who capitalize off your perceived “flaws” – are now seeping into your social media, your YouTube viewing sessions, and your web surfing.
Hey, hey you! Yeah you! Don’t you want to look like me? I’m a good-looking Instagram model! Buy this new, ineffective product I’ve been sponsored to hawk! No, I didn’t use this product to look like this, but hopefully you’ll fall for the BS and buy it anyway!
Case in point: Amber Rose. A bald-headed beauty known for being Kanye West’s ex-girlfriend, as well as Wiz Khalifa’s former wife and 21 Savage’s ex-fiance, revealed that she amassed a whopping $2 million from her sponsored posts on Instagram last year.
Did you guys get that? $2 million!
Now if you believe, for one second, that the products Amber Rose hawks to her followers are the “secret keys” behind her striking looks, well, I’ve got a bridge to sell you in Alaska.
But clearly, many of the Slutwalk’s mastermind’s followers would gladly take up my Alaskan bridge offer with, let me mention it again, $2 million funneling to Amber Rose per year – thanks to her impressionable, gullible followers who blindly purchase her sponsored products, hoping to emulate her beauty.
While some Instagram models photoshop their visages and figures and mold their bodies into a societal ideal by the hands of a plastic surgeon, they beguile their fans to believe that their sponsored products are the pipeline to perfection.
I have nothing against this new age of influencer marketing. Nothing at all.
However, what compelled me to write this article was witnessing so many young people in my family – from tweens to young adults – who felt so engulfed by these social media illusions, they began to tie their self-esteem to Instagram likes and followers.
They were being swept up in a turbulent tornado of negative thinking due to the comparative nature of Instagram. Here’s what one of my young family members said that sent me over the edge:
Oh, I just wanted to shake her! I wanted her to open her eyes! I wanted her to understand that most people on social media only post their highs and seldom post their lows. I told her that I know flight attendants who’ve told me how social media stars ask permission to take pictures in first class, but saunter back to economy after finishing their selfie session.
I wanted her to understand that social media is all smoke and mirrors – many influencers are experts at creating fraudulent facades , uploading photos with plastered smiles and seducing their naive followers to believing that their lives are “perfect.”
These influencers have got some of their followers right where they want them to be – in the palm of their hands – hoodwinked into believing that they, the influencers, are better, richer, and most deceptively, “happier.”
I just want everyone, not just my family members, to understand that influencers feign this image of impeccability to nick at followers’ insecurities because, let’s be honest, you can’t sell anything to someone who already feels as if they’ve got it all. But those with low self-confidence are most susceptible to buying random “bits and bobs” to compensate for so-called “imperfections.”
That’s why, dear reader, I’ve compiled the following list to help you regain yourself self-esteem in a world that loves to capitalize off your self-hate:
Treat your self-esteem like your smartphone. A digital device sans a protective case is susceptible to cracking and breaking, no? In the same way, if you don’t pad and cushion your self-esteem with some vanity, when you’re inundated with messages that make you feel less-than, you’re going to fall apart.
Place Post-It notes all over your room that remind you of all your beautiful physical qualities, routinely stand in front of your mirror and affirm your gorgeousness, watch motivational speakers on YouTube who’ve learned the art of high self-esteem. Developing a high sense of self takes work, and if you’re willing to put in the effort, you could be just as confident as the influencers who feign perfection.
Low self-esteem isn’t solely the emanation of a social media-soaked society. It’s the result of feeling insufficient and inadequate for many, many years. It’s the outcome of experiencing rejection and marginalization.
It’s the by-product of media brainwashing, since childhood, on what’s cool and what’s not, and feeling as if we’re a part of the latter.
That’s why it’s important to have a day (a week would be even better) of “ceremonious metamorphosis” for yourself where you can release all the negative self-talk, traumatic experiences, and grudges from your past and embrace a brand new you.
My grandmother once told me that you could be the sweetest, juiciest, most delicious orange on this earth, but some people simply do not like oranges and would prefer a bruised apple.
In the same way, you shouldn’t fret if you don’t fit the mold of who society dictates is beautiful. Though the media may praise the Gigi Hadids and Rihannas, I know some men who’d prefer the Rebel Wilsons and Lena Dunhams; it’s just their preference – their allegorical “bruised apple” instead of the “perfect orange.”
There’s always someone out there who’d kill to look like you, and there’s also someone out there who’d give their right foot to be with you. So why not embrace your unique beauty?
You wouldn’t voluntarily keep doing something that dampened your mood, right? So if social media is wreaking havoc on your self-esteem, why do you continue to indulge in it?
If you feel yourself slipping into a bleak state of mind and you start comparing yourself to your peers on social media, it’s totally OK to say, “You know what? I think it’s time for me to step away from this digital disturbance and do something more worthwhile.”
Case in point: Madison Beer, a music industry “It Girl” with 12.5 million Instagram followers all the tweens and teens love, recently said the following in an interview with Build Series LDN:
“I don’t really have Instagram. I don’t have the app on my phone or anything,” Beer said. Mind you, she has nearly 13 million followers. “I know it’s weird. People will literally say to me, ‘Oh my god, like, you look so happy and so styled all the time, and so glamorous.’ I’m just like yeah, Instagram will do that. That’s the illusion of what it is. Deleting the app helps me cleanse myself of this fake thing.”
If Beer, a woman with an Instagram following that many aspire to have, feels the need to take a break from all the fabrication and fraudulence that is Instagram, you can be rest assured that the allure of Instagram validation isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.
So instead of yearning external validation that’ll lead to nothing but an empty victory, start working on loving yourself in a world that capitalizes off your self-hate. A high sense of self is the best gift you can ever give yourself.