Unfiltering Our Social Media Feeds

Abbey Williams

There is a movement of sorts happening on social media right now and it is one that I am here for!

There is a filter that shows your face filtered. Your skin is smooth and flawless, your eyes are bigger and deeper, and you look… filtered. And then you move your face into the space that takes away the filter and you are left seeing your true face. I have seen Instagram story after story of influencers sharing their filtered face versus their unfiltered face. I have seen influencers posting long thoughtful posts about how damaging filtering is for women and for the younger generation who is coming up in a society of filtering ourselves.

“What does this show our young people?” Some of these posts have referenced.

I could not agree with this movement and this call to stop the filtering more, but I wonder how far gone we are.

Social media has played a large part in the way in which we are presenting, preforming, and falling into comparison traps, but this is nothing new. You can think back to celebrities you idolized as a young person, and some of this messaging and feelings were applied back then.

I came up in the era of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson, and others who were sexualized and over beautified that was potentially damaging to the younger audience. The comparison trap and standard of beauty in our society was marketed around this ideal body size, appearance, and look.

This has only grown increasingly worse as social media and filters have made their way onto the scene. The highlight reels, quick peaks into other’s curated lifestyle, and the perfectly filtered photos do not accurately display real people, real life, or any form of authenticity.

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Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

What problems does this hold for our future? Could a quick, let’s stop filtering our photos movement change the course we are on?

1. Connection lies in authenticity

Connection is formed when there is genuine authenticity. When one is vulnerable in showing up as they are, who they are, and what they look like they find their true connections. It is important to remember we are not going to be for everyone, but we are going to be for someone. Filtering our faces, our personalities, ourselves… it does not just hurt the person on the receiving end, it hurts us. We are the one the loses the true connection. These missed experiences can shorten lifespan and negative impact our physical and mental well-being.

2. The comparison traps

Constantly comparing yourself and your life to the perfectly curated feeds on social media can be damaging to your mental health and your relationships. It can be easy to scroll past the beautifully decorated homes of the lifestyle/home décor influencers and start hating everything about your own home. It can be easy to scroll past the beautiful pictures your neighbor just had done of her family where everyone is looking and smiling and wish your kids were more cooperative. It can be easy to scroll and compare your marriage to the marriage of your college roommate who just took a beautiful romantic vacation together and wish you two did stuff like that together. But it’s important to remember these are the pieces people are choosing to share. These are the moments that make it to the highlight reel. This is not the whole picture. What you do not see is the woman with the beautiful home struggles with depression and is having a really hard time right now. What you do not see is the family with the beautiful pictures had an epic tantrum right after these pictures were taken. What you do not see is the couple who is vacationing together are struggling with infertility and are trying to escape their feelings of sadness for a week before they start another round of IVF. Everyone is struggling behind these beautiful pictures. Everyone has a story of pain and joy. And only comparing yourself to the pretty parts, of course it makes you feel like crap.

3. Unrealistic standards

As our young people are making their way to social media, imagine how unrealistic these standards are for them. There are limited visuals of normal faces, normal aging processes, a whole lot of over functioning, and normalizing the hustle over the need to take care of yourself. There should be no surprise really that our young people are struggling with their own mental and physical well-being as a result of these pressures. Let’s start normalizing what faces and bodies really look like. Let’s start setting realistic standards around work, life, marriage, and individual needs.

4. You are beautiful

I don’t know about you, but I never want my daughters to think they are anything but beautiful exactly as they are. I don’t want them filtering their faces until I cannot even recognize them. And if they are doing this… I want it to be because they want to and not because they feel like they have to. I want you to know, you are beautiful. Your thin lips don’t make you less beautiful. Your wrinkles around your eyes don’t make you less beautiful. You are beautiful just being authentically you.

Our self-worth, it isn’t found in the mirror or on the perfectly filtered, curated Instagram feed. Our self-worth comes from loving ourselves from within. It comes from all the pieces you do not see in those pretty pictures. It comes from the ability to love yourself and the truest form of who you are.

So, take off the filter. Join the movement or just start showing up as you. Your people will gravitate toward you and you will feel lighter and freer. And our sons and our daughters, they will grow in a world where true beauty is seen and celebrated. Where they can be accepted for being beautiful just as they are.

Take off the filter. The world needs you as you, and you are beautiful just as you.

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Abbey Williams is the producer and host of the Mimosas with Moms Podcast, content creator of the social media platforms @mimosaswithmoms, and mother of 4. She is committed to supporting, empowering, and connecting with mothers in all seasons of motherhood. She navigates her blended family/coparenting life with her husband, four kids, and two sister labs.

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