I was a bit late on the Instagram train – and, like a dork, only used it for the photo filters for a really long time! When I realised it wasn’t just another boring app (sorry, Insta), I started using it for all the wrong reasons. I became obsessed with negative fad dieting pages – paleo, vegan, macro-counting, calorie-counting, raw foods – and quickly let them consume my life. I would get mad at myself if I ate more than 1500 calories a day, which I now know means I was constantly living in a calorie deficit and not fuelling my body with enough energy to get through each day.
The worst part? While I was busy looking at those harmful Instagram accounts, I was also following influencers and models who made me feel bad about myself. I would scroll through photos spruiking weight-loss products, without realising the girls promoting them normally didn’t even use those skinny teas, lollipops, or tablets themselves.
As I grew older and learned more about the industry, I began to realise how many images on Instagram are edited to make the women in them look skinnier and ‘smoother’. Eventually, I came to terms with the fact that mentality was damaging my self-esteem and confidence. The truth is there is no secret to a fitter, healthier body – ultimately, it all comes down to eating well, exercising, and finding balance in your life.
Letting go of comparisons is something I still need to remind myself of all the time. Even when I stopped judging my body according to the bodies of other women online, I lapsed into another form of comparison that was equally toxic.
This time, I began making ‘life comparisons’ with other people online. Whenever someone was kicking goals in their career, succeeding professionally, or hitting major milestones, I felt increasingly inadequate. It didn’t matter what I was achieving or working on, all I could focus on was how much other people were achieving. It was endless, particularly because I was often comparing myself to women who are 10-20 years older than me!
I loved what I was doing, but I wasn’t taking any time to step back and be proud of myself. I grew worried that if I left the office early or didn’t work for a full day that I’d fall behind and never reach my goals.
One morning when I was out running, it dawned on me: putting all of this unnecessary pressure on myself was ridiculous and unfair. It wasn’t just harmful to my mental health and happiness, it was distracting me from what’s truly important: my own journey.
The reality of Instagram and social media is this: most accounts only show you the best five per cent of someone else’s life. They’re like a highlight reel – and you should never judge your entire life (the good and bad) against someone’s good moments only. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side – the grass is greener where you water it.
If you struggle with comparisons online, I suggest using social media for positivity, inspiration, and motivation. Find other women that make you feel good about yourself, like you’re empowered to reach your wildest dreams.
If anyone online makes you feel less-than, you should unfollow them. Simple as that. I know how easy it is to fall into the trap of comparison. We all do it, and it takes a conscious effort not to. As much as possible, I don’t concern myself with what others are doing – the only comparison I make is to where I was this time last year. I work hard, and I push myself, but I don’t measure my success based on what others are doing, because it’s simply not helpful!
Life is like chapters of a novel – don’t compare your chapter to someone else’s – you might be at entirely different parts of the book.