This week I thought I would address a topic that needs much addressing: social media influencers. Have you ever scrolled through Instagram, gone down the rabbit hole, and started to compare yourself to them? Trust me, I get it. From “my life is so boring,” to “wow, my closet really does suck,” to “I desperately need to lose some weight,” I’ve been there. It’s so easy for us to get caught up in this spiral of negative thoughts.
I’m pretty sure all of you are familiar with the term “influencer.” After all, it’s 2018! But, if you’re not, an influencer is someone a brand pays to promote their product, service or experience. This is usually done in exchange for a product, coverage, promotion or direct payment.
Before I delve any further, I just want to say I don’t have any issues with influencers. I’d be a hypocrite if I did. My boutique Lilac And Lilies has worked with numerous influencers in the past and we’ve truly benefited from our collaborations with them.
Having experienced this tradeoff firsthand, I can safely say that successful influencers are some of the hardest working entrepreneurs I know. They practically work 24/7, creating content, negotiating deals and signing contracts at all hours of the day. They also have to present a “perfect” life, which is a full-time job on its own.
However, we need to start looking at influencers for what they are. They’re advertisers. Plain and simple. Think of when you flip through the pages of Vogue and come across a high-fashion advertisement. Do you look at it knowing it’s clearly an ad? The answer is probably yes. You’re fully aware that the image has gone through plenty of retouching and post-production so that it can best sell a product.
Now think of when you come across an influencer’s profile on Instagram? Do you look at their photos the same way you’d look at an advertisement in Vogue? Probably not. I know I don’t. But they’re the same. Both the fashion model and influencer have been paid to present a “perfect” persona.
Yet, we still mentally categorize these influencers as normal people. We classify these photos as “everyday life pictures” and group them together with our family and friends’ pictures. Even worse, we group them together with our own photos. This then causes us to compare ourselves to them, which is essentially comparing our lives to content that is very styled, very edited, and very planned, no matter how candid it may appear.
While we can’t always control what we come across on social media or what we are exposed to in life, we can control how we perceive things. Next time you find yourself comparing yourself to an influencer, make that differentiation between “real life” and “advertisement.”
I’d like to end this post by stressing just how impactful words are. Just look at the term “influencer.” The word alone is incredibly powerful. The term “influencer” implies that they influence you to do something or believe in something. However, we ALL have influence, whether we’re a social media influencer or not. We have influence over how we react to something. We have influence over our own thoughts. We have influence over our own actions.
Next time you’re scrolling through social media, I encourage you to influence yourself to look at influencers for who they are. Your self-esteem and happiness will thank you for it.