The Ugly Truth

It’s hard to escape the continuous influence of those around us, whether it be friends, family or simply people we follow on Instagram, influence and pressure seems to be everywhere. I personally find Instagram the worst, everyone “appears” to be living wealthy, free-and-easy lifestyles, brunching in London’s hot spots every day, driving the nice cars and living the life of Riley.

I spoke to a good friend of mine and ex Love Island contestant Emma Woodhams about what it’s like to have to portray beauty and happiness all the time, what it’s like to be continuously scrutinised and how it has affected her mental health.

Do you feel a pressure to always look good?

“I felt more pressure to look good pre-motherhood, I feel that since having Alfie, I have a new love and acceptance for my appearance. However, I still have days where I am very selective of what I post on my Instagram and days where I feel very negatively about my body in particular. I am confident and happy with my face and the way I look, but I often feel embarrassed of my body and dislike my slim shape”.

Do you feel you must ‘Keep up with the Jones’s’ even more so as you are in the public eye?

“I do feel that social media is a constant competition of sorts. I’m constantly trying to post and create content that portrays a successful and happy lifestyle. I have this continuous urge to ‘keep up’ especially from other mothers, it’s impossible not to compare my appearance, home, situation, life style, and ability as a mother to theirs”.

Do you feel as though you are continuously scrutinised for your appearance?

“Surprisingly, most of the scrutiny comes from females. I don’t have too many negative comments about my appearance and I think this is due to the fact that I do not have or have never promoted any form of surgery. My appearance is natural, so people seem to be much more accepting of this”.

Does this affect your mental health?

“Since gaining a large following my mental health has been affected hugely! I now suffer with days of severe confidence crisis. I feel that Instagram has made me struggle with my identity and often feel lost or that I should be ‘further along’ than I currently am, I have endless accounts of people to compare too. If it wasn’t for the fact that Instagram is now my job, I would 100% leave social media altogether and I really hope to be in a position financially to do that soon”.

Do you portray a true version of yourself and your lifestyle to your followers?

“I think if anyone with a large following were to say they always portray a true representation of themselves online they would be lying. I do not! From small things, such as applying more makeup to cover bad skin days, to much bigger illusions like posting happy, fancy lifestyle pictures on days when in fact I can’t leave the house due to being crippled with anxiety and haven’t stopped crying all day. I do however, try my best to tackle issues around motherhood and be as honest as possible with my followers about how I do struggle on my own like anyone else”.

So, there you have it, an honest and open interview with Emma. What is surprising is, many people look at Emma’s lifestyle, her appearance, her body and massively desire this, yet she’s doing the same, she’s looking at others, desiring their lifestyle and comparing where they are in life. 

So, when and where does it all stop? When do we stop comparing? When do we learn to love, and accept ourselves?

To promote a more realistic vision of everyday life, I have created my very own ‘Welfie’ cards (wellbeing, selfie cards). The cards say statements such as ‘Today I asked for help’ and ‘Today I ate cake, lots of cake’ and the idea is that people take a selfie with these cards and feel proud of the things that are typically “frowned upon” or simply just not shown.

Modern society is obsessed with perfection and living the life of Riley, and everyone seems to be geared towards chasing this. The biggest house, the Acai bowl breakfast, the six pack, the best car, the best dressed kids, the list is endless! I think it’s time we all stopped chasing perfection, after all, continuously chasing perfection isn’t allowing us to “live our best lives”. 

The impossible and unrealistic goal of achieving the perfect vision, the perfect life, the perfect appearance, only limits our ability to see the beauty and possibility in what we currently have and everything around us.

Welfie Card.jpg
Nicole Clewer