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Adolescents in Insta-Land

Illustration by Kat J. Weiss

Remember Alice? The girl in the blue dress who wasn’t quite sure who she was. She soon found herself falling down the rabbit hole, into a curious land. Upon entering, Alice was faced with an obstacle. She wasn’t quite the right size. Too big, it seemed. She ached to enter her ‘wonderland’ but first she had to change herself. Never fear! The solution appeared to be pretty simple, according to the potion labelled ‘drink me’. Sounds vaguely familiar, right?

As a little girl, I always dreamed of my own life mirroring stories like Alice’s that I’d read about in books. But not like this. If you’ve ever even briefly scrolled through Instagram, you’ve probably faced a similar conundrum to our old friend Alice. It starts with harmlessly clicking on that colourful, cute camera-like button on your phone. But soon, you’re mindlessly scrolling through an endless feed of aesthetically pleasing images. Falling down the rabbit-hole.

It isn’t long before you are met with sneaky voices that scream; “SHRINK” alongside a handy little potion promising to help you do just that. These voices declare that you, existing just as you are, aren't good enough. If your stomach isn’t flat, your arms aren’t toned, or god forbid... you have visible cellulite... your very existence simply isn’t adequate.

The solution? Suck on a lollipop to diminish your appetite, or guzzle down some tea that will leave you on the toilet for hours. It’s okay, everyone is doing it! Take the Kardashians for example. If it’s good enough for Kim K, then it’s good enough for us all. In Insta-land, we grant the Kardashian types royalty status. ‘Our Queen of Hearts’ is whoever gains the most double-taps on a post. The more likes, the more power. What to do with that power? Perhaps generate support for the underprivileged or raise awareness for a worthy cause. Or, let everyone know you’re ripped as hell and that the celery juice you drank this morning has given you a whole new perspective on life. Don’t forget to add in the bit about how anyone can be just as hot as you if they use your promo code to purchase the latest laxative…. Whoops, I mean ‘fitness tea’. Because in ‘Insta-land’, being #fitspo is the ultimate goal. I wish ‘Insta-land’ was some fantasy place that only existed in books, but that’s not the case. The lines between Instagram and real life are becoming harder and harder to define.

It’s truly scary and potentially dangerous. It’s so easy to look at sponsored posts and mistake them for reality. We can be sucked into buying products that harm us. Whether that be mentally, physically, or both.“ If you drink from a bottle marked poison, it is certain to disagree with you sooner or later,” says Alice herself.

But what if the bottle isn’t marked as poison? What if this poison is hidden in the guise of something that resembles a health product? We’re being influenced in a way that makes us believe our bodies, the very vehicle of our existence, are not good enough. And companies are profiting off this.

Dieting is re-branded as #wellness and eating anything but kale is shunned. That really sucks. Insta-land can be a fun, creative and social hub. A place to express yourself and explore different aspects of your own personality. However, with the infiltration of selfish companies and dodgy influencers, it can also be toxic.

Let’s say “off with their heads” to these sneaky diet organisations, because why should we give them the likes to dislike ourselves? At the end of the day, life is for living, not for shrinking. There is so much more to our existence than having a six-pack. Sorry Kim.

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