We recently interviewed the British celebrity nutritionist Amelia Freer (Victoria Beckham is a client) and asked her what her approach to social media was. “I don’t spend much time at all on it these days. I feel it has become a very negative thing, especially for the health food industry. I try to avoid it on weekends, at least for one day and I’ll only check it once or twice a day during the week...
I make sure that I follow a wide variety of fun accounts so that it is a joyful place if I do look – I follow elephants, florists, dogs and friends as well as chefs or cooks who I admire. I unfollow anyone that posts lots of selfies or posy style pictures talking about their weight or their body, wearing bikinis or doing workouts or anyone that promotes restrictive or faddy ways of eating.”
Freer got me thinking about how I approach social media. Around the same time, I posted a few New Year’s resolutions to Instagram. One of them was to encourage our followers to compliment themselves more than they criticise. A few days later, I was on holidays and found myself doing exactly what I’d vowed not to do… I was criticising myself.
“I should have eaten better over the Christmas break”
“I’ve put on weight over the holidays”
“I don’t feel good in this swimming costume”
These were just a few of the thoughts that crossed my mind. They’re all utter rubbish, of course. I know that. And a bit of exercise will usually banish any negative thoughts from my mind. But I also know I’m not alone. I know I’m not the only woman who points out her flaws.
So why do we do it? Why can’t we just be happy and love ourselves? I’ll always remind myself that I birthed two children and I’m proud of that. Every stretch mark, every kilo, every line on my face is worth it. I also surround myself with real, down-to-earth people who constantly remind me what’s important in life: family and friends. We do it because it’s simply the cycle of comparison – we determine our own social and personal worth based on how we stack up against others. As much as we try not to, we just can’t help it. And let’s be honest: Instagram doesn’t help.
I suspect that like me, there are a lot of mothers out there who can’t work out if they actually like or dislike Instagram. It’s great when you’re the one out and about having fun, but not so great when you’re the one at home having a bad day with the kids. Or maybe I just need to give my feed a refresh. And remind myself that it’s just a snapshot of the best of the best. It’s a highlight’s reel. No one’s life is as it appears on Instagram. Remind yourself of that. We all have good days and we all have bad days. One of my favourite quotes? “Don’t compare yourself to other mothers. We are all losing our shit. Some just hide it better than others.”
I know a woman who runs her own media business and puts her phone in a box when she walks through the door. It wouldn’t be easy – we’re so used to having our phone next to us at all times. I’m also guilty of mindlessly scrolling when I should be focusing on my kids. This doesn’t make me feel good – it makes me feel like a mother who isn’t present. But we get addicted to the scrolling. We want more, more, more. More snapshots of people’s lives. More products to buy. When really, maybe it’s just better to put down our phone and take a moment to connect with ourselves. To peer into our own self instead of constantly peering into other people’s lives.
I have to be on Instagram for work so a full detox isn’t possible – and I’m well aware that it’s a brilliant tool for work and also for connecting with people all over the world. But like all things in life, it should be used in moderation and used with caution. Maybe it’s time to break the addiction and maybe putting your phone away when you walk through the door is the answer.
So just like Amelia Freer does, follow a wide variety of fun accounts and make your feed a joyful experience. I’m unfollowing accounts that don’t make me feel good and instead, filling it with the ones, which do (Celeste Barber I’m talking about you!). I want to look at inspiring pictures and honest words. So here are the feeds that I love and you should follow – they’re bound to make you smile. And in 2018, I’m making an effort to practise self-love, because we only live once, so don’t spend it criticising yourself. Life’s too short.
Holding image: Julie Adams
My hit list
Thank you to Celeste Barber for making me laugh daily. The actor, writer and comedian contrasts celebrity fashion shots with her real-life reenactments – she’ll have you giggling instantly (and also highlights how unrealistic aspiring to look like a celebrity is).
“I can’t do up my favourite jeans possibly due to all the delicious food and drink I’ve consumed over Christmas. Do I care? Not one bit. Have I enjoyed every mouthful? Absolutely. Will I be buying any diet books that will either make me feel like a failure or cause my anxiety levels to reach peak limits? Not a chance.” I remember reading this post and gosh it made me feel good. A mother of four daughters, an author and a midwife, Clemmie Hopper is funny, honest, open, real and basically, just a feel-good account to follow.
Whether she’s doing squats in the playground while pushing her toddler on the swing or getting real about motherhood on Stories, London-based mother of two Anna from Mother Pukka is very, very funny. She’s also just published her first book Parenting The Shit Out Of Life. Buy it here.
Style Me Sunday is a London style blog for over thirties, mums and curvy women founded by Natalie Lee. She’s passionate about spreading body and style confidence.
We all need to chill out a little (at least, I know I do). Jacqui Lewis from The Broadplace taught me how to meditate a couple of years ago and she’s got an incredibly calming energy about her – you can even feel it through her Instagram posts. Sign up to her newsletter too – you’ll get a lot out of her words. I know I do.
Claire Alexander-Johnston is hilariously honest and her adventures as a Byron Bay-based mum of three are a joy to follow. And guess what? We’re profiling her on the site very soon!
Bali-based Australian mum of three Innika Choo is guaranteed to make you smile, but just be warned she’ll also make you shop (her namesake brand Innika has just launched at Browns and Net-A-Porter). Her colourful boho style, witty captions and insight into life as an expat living in Bali is exactly what I want out of Instagram: escapism, fun and inspiration.