If you haven’t heard about 19 year old bikini-clad IG star Essena Oniell calling it quits on the posey posey vanity centered approach to social media. Read more about it here: Elle’s article about Essena
This brings up many thoughts for me. The first one being “Why doesn’t anyone pay me to wear clothes? Why don’t I get free shit?”
But it really gets the social philosopher in me going.
Essena was one of those *lucky* girls who appeared to fit the quintessential beach babe lifestyle. She now exposes that she was often paid to promote looks and reveals that much of it was fake and deceitful. There are multiple accounts out there that are like this, hundreds in fact. In my eyes it’s obvious, but perhaps for a young adolescent girl looking for direction, it can become what they strive for. These days it seems that having the correct bikini in your bikini drawer provides a false sense of a heightened social status.
It’s tragic really. Tragic because it’s true.
I am the farthest thing from a teenage girl. I’m a mother and this kind of thing bothers me. First of all, I feel like this young woman is unnecessarily bashing herself, and secondly, how did swimwear trickle it’s way into the framework of teenage popularity and female validation?
Well duh because media-social and otherwise-tell us it’s so.
Social media can be somewhat of a of mirror-mirror-on-the-wall, to tell us who is the fairest of them all. To tell us where we stand in this bogus bullshit social heiarchy. Not just how much of a bikini babe are we, but how good of a mother, how much do our husbands love us, how fantastic are our Saturday nights, are we a good cook or nah?
I would like to think that in my own use of social media I portray my world in an honest and beautiful way. But I would be lying if I said I never sucked it in or picked the best out of 50 pictures or wonder why only 10 people liked something I thought was hilarious. But is that a reflection of me or the world looking in? Do I suck it in for me or for you? What do pictures of me gazing at the ocean do for my purpose? Do I really gaze at the ocean like that in real life?
Obviously there are more questions than answers. I think the message here is to take everything at face value, and remember that everything you see is merely a carefully selected representation of what is really within.
BUT AT THE SAME TIME, I have to disagree with her in some ways. She suggests that social media doesn’t currently involve shared interests and qualities. As with anything in life, it is what you make it. Hashtags aren’t always for witty one liners. When I had #shingles I went straight to my friend Social Media’s house to learn more about what people who had gone through it had to say about it. When I don’t know what to cook I ask #whatsfordinner? When I taught my two year old his #balancebike, guess what? When *someone* gave us a pet rat for Christmas, I found out how to care for her from legit rat lovers (a phase in life I would rather forget). I have made friendships across continents with many shared interests and qualities, especially in the mommy realm. On a larger scale I have joined in promoting awareness of rare diseases that I would have never known about. Communities such as Go Shout Love thrive on social media connections.
All this can say a lot about me, I would say. Maybe it’s true then, this mirror-mirror. But it’s a tricky little bitch and you need to respect it. Life is balance. And maybe for Essena and others her age it is easy to get off course. I mean, at 19 my priorities were dollar beer night and the perfect cleavage, so, whatever. But if you find yourself seeking validation and self awareness through a lit screen, it may be time to put it away and connect with your organic self so you can again understand who you really are and what is really important. And if you are using social media as the learning and connecting tool it was meant to be, by all means, carry on.