Comparing Yourself to the Highlight Reel: The Truth About Instagram - Happy as a Mother

Comparing Yourself to the Highlight Reel: The Truth About Instagram

The love hate relationship with Instagram is real.

One minute I love how IG has connected me with amazing women, and given me the privilege to connect and hear their stories. The next minute I am left feeling like I don’t measure up to the moms out there whose lives seem to be perfect. I mean seriously, they look like barbies who always have their hair and makeup done; they lost all the baby weight and their house looks spotless. Meanwhile, I am sitting here in my “house clothes”, with a greasy mommy bun, drinking my THIRD cup of coffee today — I would literally move to Timbuktu if anyone ever photographed this. How the heck are they doing it and why am I failing so miserably?

Mama, it’s not real life. The images that you are viewing are curated images– more on that in a second.

Before starting the Make it to Nap IG page and plunging head first into the world of photography and social media marketing, I thought that images I saw on IG were real. After all, the accounts I followed were real people, showing their real family, doing real things. Boy, was I wrong! Reality looks more like sitting in a room with the floor covered in toys, milk stains on your shirt, and a kid running around without pants. It’s the reality of raising human beings– it’s messy, and it certainly is not picture perfect.  

Okay, pause. Before I go any further, I need to acknowledge that I am currently using instagram as a tool to build my blog and brand on social media. It is a valuable tool that connects me with thousands of incredible women and allows me the privilege to hear their story. So I am not here to rag on instagram or influencers. There are many positive and powerful ways to use IG. Obviously, there are shady accounts out there and many spammy ones (I’m learning), but when used with the right intentions, it is a tool that connects you to others. With that being said, I can’t handle the idea of you scrolling your feed, thinking that all of the images you see are real life, resulting in you feeling less than– I want to bring you behind the scenes.  

Content is Created

Through my love and pursuit of photography and social media marketing, I have learned that there is a huge difference between capturing a moment and creating one. Snapping a picture of the first time your child crawls, eats solids, or picks their nose– captured moments. Photos of a mom with her hair curled, family in coordinating clothes, everyone smiling looking like angels straight from heaven– created moment. Did you catch that? CREATED! Everything in that image, from the hair and makeup, to the outfit selection and location, is thoughtfully picked for that picture. Not to mention the fact that they likely used a photographer, or have photography skills themselves, and used software to edit the photo. To drive the point home even further, it may not even be their house; it could be a rented space, studio, or some serene setting. The point is; there was a lot of thought, time, and likely money that went into creating that image. You cannot compare your current milked stained, pj wearing, mommy bun self to the photos you see. Heck, you would look like a million bucks if you had time to shower and do your hair and makeup! For the record, let Drake remind you that “sweatpants, hair tied, chillin with no make-up on, that’s when you’re the prettiest, I hope that you don’t take it wrong.”

Photos are Styled

The next big revelation I had, was that the photos these accounts share are styled. Styling is linked to creation, but it specifically refers to the props and the set up of the photo. Guys, I took up photography 4 short months ago, and I already have a whole cabinet dedicated to props. The mom you see sitting in her bed, next to a tray perfectly decorated with coffee,  flowers, and breakfast, is all staged. Think of each of these pictures like a photography or movie set, because that’s how they are treated. The photographer, influencer, mommy blogger, content creator or whoever, thought of an image they wanted to create with their props, expensive camera, and editing software. So please don’t allow these photos to make you think that this is what your life should look like. Mornings in my house consist of three young boys climbing in my bed, wrestling, and someone ending up with a bum or foot in the face. It’s not glamorous, but it’s real– and these are precious moments I wouldn’t trade for anything, even if my 2 year old has decided that my head is the perfect place to rest his butt.  

The Big Accounts are Building a Brand

Okay, so why are these people going to such lengths to take these images? Here is why– they are building a brand. Every. single. thing. they. post. is about building and growing that brand. I mean e.v. e r. y. t. h. i. n. g! For example, check out Rachel Hollis and Jenna Kutcher. There isn’t a single picture on their feed that isn’t calculated and well thought out. They use apps to preload pictures and make sure their grids look cohesive and aesthetically pleasing. They use tools to track their reach and statistics. Why? Because at the end of the day, these massive instagram accounts have become businesses. They turn their influence, whether in crafts, healthy recipes, fashion, product reviews, etc. into income. Did you catch that? For many of them, THIS IS THEIR FULL TIME JOB. This can feel particularly deceptive because the person = the brand. You feel like you are getting to know the person, and you are, but it is a facet of them, not all of their unfiltered life.

Hold up a minute, you mean to say that I’m sitting here in my “house clothes” and mommy bun comparing myself to someone whose job is literally to create these images? Yup! Imagine if you put the same time and effort into CREATING an image; you could get a similar, scroll stopping result. But the reality is that the influencer and online marketing life isn’t for everyone– and that’s okay. These influencers work hard for what they have; they put in endless hours creating content– for you!

They go through all of this work to connect with you!

Yes they are building their own business, and yes they are creating a brand. But brands go to the ends of the earth to find the people they can add value to and connect with.

As someone who has recently entered the influencer social media jungle, my motivation for doing so is to connect with you. I want to hear your stories, to help, and to share my knowledge and experience. Do I try to create pretty images to capture and keep your attention, yes. But beyond nice pictures, I want to offer you resources that are truly of value.

If you are scrolling and find yourself sinking into the pit of comparison or getting down on yourself, here are some things you can do:

  • Stop scrolling: seriously, put your phone away and do something else.
  • Make a gratitude list: this help you to focus on being thankful for the life you do have
  • Unfollow: If there is a particular account that often leaves you doubting yourself, unfollow them. You do not need to expose yourself to anything that makes you feel bad about yourself.
  • Time your scroll: seriously, set a timer on your phone so that you don’t get lost down the rabbit hole of instagram.
  • Put on a blindfold: did you see the Sandra Bullock movie Bird Box? Ha! Obviously I’m joking, although these memes still make me laugh. But seriously, intentionally guard your eyes (and heart) from constantly looking at things that make you feel insecure.

Okay to recap, major instagram accounts are creating moments not capturing them. Their photos are styled right down to the props, location, and outfits. They use professional equipment like lights, cameras, and editing software. Why? Because it is their job/business, and because they want to connect with you. So next time you are scrolling and comparing yourself or feeling inferior– stop! Remind yourself all that went into creating that image; if you went to the lengths they did to create those images, your pictures would look flawless too!

If you have any more questions about instagram, or comments about how it affects your self esteem, drop me a line in the comments.

Just incase no one told you today; you are appreciated, you are loved, and you are worthy!


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