Don’t dress for Instagram.

I was looking over NYFW looks and reviews when I came upon  this article by Cathy Horyn in which she pens Rihanna’s collection as “fashion for iPhones.”  The looks seem contrived and not true to her personal style.

Then a few days later, I came across this article and clip of Lady Gaga talking about how she almost quit music.  (Watch the short clip.)  Gaga came to this self-realization that she was unhappy with where she was in life and what she was doing.  She was promoting a self-image that made her feel “shallow” and like an overworked “money-making machine.”   So what did she do about it?  Gaga started to take a stand and say no to opportunities that she didn’t connect with.  She stopped caring so much about what others thought of her and more about being true to herself.  Gaga acknowledges that this idea is somewhat counter-culture.  In today’s world, we’re able to curate our lives through photos or use 120-character tweets and status updates to communicate who we are.  It’s encouraged.  But Gaga leaves us with this idea that, “We aren’t actually communicating with each other. We are unconsciously communicating lies.”  Let’s think on that…

Apply the Pareto (80/20) Principle to your Instagram feed and those filtered photos represent just 20% of your actual life, leaving a good bit of your day-to-day activites (or lack thereof) unpublished.  “Duh,” you might say.  “Of course I don’t post my entire life on Instagram.”  But how often do we neglect this fact when looking at the feeds of others?  Answer: All. the. time.  It’s as if we flip the principle around and think we’re seeing 80% of their enviable, glamorous, perfect, sunny lives.

Take, for example, the fashion/style bloggers out there.  Based on their Instagrams, you might think that bloggers never make a mess on their marble countertops; have somehow managed to access natural light 24/7; only drink coffee crafted by artisan baristas with a knack for cool designs… or Starbucks; live in the safest, hippest neighborhoods (downtown) with the most “photogenic walls”; eat macaroons every day but never fluctuate in weight; never have pimples; never have bad hair days; and never question whether people will like them.

If you’re calling BS on that, you’re right.

The tools by which we project our own lives also serve as the lenses through which we see our peers.  We communicate these filtered images and then put on our rose-filtered glasses of observation.

Do they like me?  Am I as enviable as her?  Is she happier than me?  Who has the better life?  Why can’t I be more…?  Am I skinner?  Smarter?  Prettier?  Funnier? 

We begin to compare ourselves, judge ourselves, and find ourselves judging others.  If we’re not mindful, we can get caught up in a cycle of tearing down authenticity in an effort to build up a self-image that’s not really who we are.  What we end up projecting is a life we think others will “like” that’s filtered, edited, and not really us at all.  And like Gaga so poignantly stated, we end up “communicating lies”, drowning in jealousy, being unhappy, and losing ourselves.

So how do we make sure we stay in a healthy mindset and stay true to ourselves or find our way back to those two things if we have lost our way?


  1. Capture some of the ugly moments in life.  Or at least make a point to include some moments from the 80% that previously didn’t make the cut.  You know, like when your really cool but hot coffee spills all over your white sweater or you accidentally step in gum on the way to class.  Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying, right?  And trust me, we ALL have those moments.  Show people that you’re human.
  2. Unfollow.  If someone else isn’t keeping it real or you find yourself envying them and the life they have, just do yourself a favor and let them go.  Do it temporarily or permanently.  This article suggests un-following those you don’t know personally, who evoke feelings of jealousy in you, or who make you feel unsatisfied with what you have or who you are (in a negative way).
  3. Find a healthy perspective.  Self awareness is important, just make sure that you’re holding yourself to standards and goals that are healthy, and don’t forget to show yourself some grace along the way–remember, even Lady Gaga (and maybe Rihanna) has been there.
  4. Use less filters.  Embrace the beauty that already exists in life.  Odds are the flowers you just took a picture of are vibrant without increasing the saturation.  A smile is always bright, and your skin looks great without that blemish editing tool.
  5. Unplug.  We could probably all use a little more face-to-face time and less face-to-screen.  Our relationships are waiting for some real communication.
  6. Get a reality check and/or find a passion.  Spend some time reading about what’s going on in the world, and then maybe use your platform(s) for good or bringing awareness to issues that mean something to you.  Be about something bigger than you.
  7. And don’t dress for Instagram.  Wear what you love and makes you feel good.  So what if it doesn’t garner a billion notifications?  Don’t compromise your style for like-ability or marketability.

Hope you’re feeling a little inspired.  (Clearly I am.)  

And thanks for all the love for MoreThanTrends.

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