I wake up in the morning, rub my eyes, taste my morning breath with regret and then, of course, grab my phone. I check Instagram even before I know what the time is.
I look at the ‘likes’ I received on the photo I posted last night. ‘Thank God it got over 100’ I think. It’s so nice when you feel so much acceptance from your followers. I make sure I get back to the comments people left, tag them all and give them a love heart.
I then go through my feed. I scroll, and scroll, and scroll. I see photos of girls with perfectly-structured-and-ridiculously-in-proportion bodies.
‘Wow she is incredible,’ I think. ‘Damn I wish my body looked like that,’ I compare. ‘How can I make myself look like that?’ I contemplate.
A good 30 minutes goes by without me even noticing.
It’s a self-obsessed, self-destructive ritual. And one that I, and many other young women of my generation, know all too well.
We were guinea pigs for growing up with social media. I created my Instagram account when the app was launched back in 2010, and have maintained my profile ever since – I’m now 19.
Being teenage girls, our insecurities are as high as our confidence can be low. You’re learning about yourself in every way: appreciating where your strengths lie and conceding your weaknesses. Puberty arrives, you’re growing taller (or not), getting pimples (or not), growing boobs (or not), experiencing your first kiss (or not).
It is a teenage rite of passage, and you don’t know any better than to look around and compare yourself to others.
And where is the worst place in the world for comparing yourself? Social media.
For a lot of us teenagers, Instagram looks like this: you’re sitting on the couch in your tracky dacks after eating a bag of maltesers while having your period. You go on Instagram to avoid studying for a maths exam tomorrow morning and see an endless amount of bronzed-up, smoothed-down babes with thigh gaps you could fit an apple in between, flat stomachs that I didn’t even have when I was 10 years old and bums with the tiniest bit of string you’ve ever seen up them.
You look down and you’re bloated, your thighs are touching and you have a maths exam tomorrow morning.
‘Fml’ we sigh.