What happened to the days when women aspired to be more than just Instagram models, the side pieces of ballplayers, and strippers with fake assets? A world where everything, including your meals, wasn’t a photo opp? A time when Instagram followers and likes didn’t mean a damn thing? When we weren’t seeking attention and validation of our looks and opinions on social media?
Ah, yes. That time has long passed. Instead, we’re stuck watching people make careers out of taking scandalous pictures (and promoting waist trainers on the side).
At the beginning of the year, I was invited to a private listening party in preparation for the release of Jazmine Sullivan’s album, Reality Show. Contrary to the title, Sullivan’s reality turned out to be empowering, refreshing and thought-provoking. In particular, her song “Mascara” caught my attention. It called out the hidden truths of many of today’s modern women and a lot of societal baggage that no one wants to claim.
But I’m calling it how I see it. Being raised in the home of the best strip clubs and the thickest chicks in America, I always had a different outlook on society’s current obsession with ass and showing it off. It wasn’t a commodity or a meal ticket (for most at least) where I was from. It was the norm. In Atlanta, a back side that looked like Kim Kardashian’s enhanced derrière was genetic and/or the result of hard work on the StairMaster at LA Fitness. It wasn’t the consequence of a mixture of caulk and other ungodly and toxic ingredients some seek out in basements and back alleys. I didn’t see the need for a waist trainer to crush my organs either just to have a banging midsection. And Instagram wasn’t a full-time job for me. It was a social outlet where I shared personal and creative photos with friends, family, and like-minded individuals. It wasn’t where I used my body as a sexual object and snapped promiscuous selfies because I was thirst-trapping for likes and competing with the next chick.
But what damage could a silly social media app really do? We all have our vices, but Instagram can be an ugly addiction. How many times a day do you pick up your phone to snap a seductive selfie or check how many likes your photo has received? And God forbid the number of likes isn’t to your liking (no pun intended), then the photo might be deleted or reposted during “peak” hours. Somehow, the app has turned into a place where people seek approval from their peers and strangers alike. I’ve seen my own friends get trapped into that destructive world firsthand. One day you post a photo in a slightly snug dress, the next you’re trying to find the right angle to play up your assets, and it instantly attracts plenty more likes than any of your other photos. In that instance, you somehow feel validated and better about yourself as your phone becomes flooded with “oohs” and “ahhs” and a bunch of thirsty dudes hopping in your direct messages. As childish as living your life out on social media for the approval of others sounds, we all know someone who subscribes to such foolery. It may even be you.
By all means, I’m not looking to offend or shame anyone because everyone is free to live their lives according to how they see fit. I just personally refuse to seek out validation in an Instagram like. I have other plans for my life than living out my every move on the ‘gram for the viewing pleasure of others. Ultimately, social media has become a conflicting confidence booster. But I’m a smart, well-spoken woman, and highly capable of wooing any man without showing T&A to millions of strangers. However, it seems some of us have yet to unlock our worth sans Instagram.