Friday, 5 May 2017

That perfectly imperfect Instagram post

I wrote this post a while ago but wasn't sure where it fit in but as it's Maternal Mental Health Week I feel compelled to post it now. 

This may come across to some as a very trivial thing but I felt the need to say it anyway. I realise this is not in anyway hitting the hard stuff or some of the major issues some women feel but it might just ring true with some. 

Social media has its pros - it's somewhere I have found a great network of support as a new mummy. People I have never met offer the most kind and caring pearls of wisdom or boost you when you are down. They are people who get that tough day and people who 'like' your day to day life. They can make you feel like you have people to talk to on the lonely days.

Sometimes Instagram can however, be a hard place too. Before I had my little boy I didn't know where I fitted into in the social media world - I compared my life to everyone else's. I wondered how people could look so good whilst lounging around their house, how their flat lays were so on point, how they always have new clothes or how they could afford to go on holiday at any opportunity & just how do they have that much time off work?! I would search and search for how certain accounts got their photos to look the way they did, what apps/lighting/camera was used. And how do they get their food looking so god damn good by the way?! It honestly got me so down. I was sucked into this millennial mindset that we must compare ourselves to others online and if we aren't posting it then it can't be happening. 

It took a while but it became clear to me that this isn't always real life. Apps, filters count for a lot. I've watched people take their photos of the perfect Instagram shot and it's beyond set up. I've been that person and hands up I still am sometimes! It really dawned on me when I watched a vlog that one of the highly followed mummy accounts had done. She posts the most gorgeous photos of her and her children but the video portrayed something different. She was short with her baby because she wasn't doing what she wanted. It was a nano second but I saw it. She was real in that vlog, I don't think for a second it was intended but it was what I needed. She wasn't being a bad parent it was just real life. Not a glossy photograph. I felt such a huge wave of relief wash over me. Like it all just clicked.

Social media (Instagram), for me, has become a hobby. My mindset has changed towards it. I love taking photos of my little boy and I love to be creative. I also adore lifestyle photography and try to capture it in real life events but some days there are times when I turn my baby and my bed into a self styled photo shoot. 20+ photos later and I might have one good one I can use after a few filters, change in exposure/contrast and so on.

I also took the view that if I'm doing this then other people certainly are. There was no way I'd let myself compare me as a mother,  to another mother. I've given myself a hard enough time just being me. We are all different and we all parent differently. What we see on Instagram is what we've been allowed to see. We paint a picture. We capture the good times. We create the good times. On the days when I start to feel like I'm comparing myself I put my phone down and concentrate on the now. What's happening right in front of me. 

So I think what I'm trying to say is, the 'perfect mums' don't exist. On Instagram. In real life. The photos you see are beautiful but dig a little deeper and you'll find they aren't always what your lead to believe, often people are quite honest in their captions and open up. Sometimes they are yelling for help like the rest of us. 

I'm not being disparaging towards accounts like this because I realise I can come across like that, with the carefully constructed photos I post. 
But I've learnt to look at photos and not compare, not get disheartened. Instead I appreciate peoples' photography. I like the aesthetics of them and how clever and creative they can be photographing the most beautiful little beings on this earth whilst remembering it is just that. A photograph. We create the perfect image surrounding it. 

The fact that it's a mummy taking photos of her child. Her most precious being. Why shouldn't some shots be set up?! Why can't they be taken with precision and styling? Behind the camera she probably hasn't washed her hair in a week or is still in her pyjamas. Hasn't made herself lunch for the 3rd day running or is flapping about the untidy part of the house that isn't in the photo. Does she have her hard days? - yes of course. Does she want to cry some days when things are just so difficult and her baby won't settle? - yes she does. Does she look at others and feel she isn't as winning at life as them? - yes! Does she feel as pressured to be the perfect mum too? Yes she does! 

So read between the lines, don't take things for face value, don't ever compare yourself and at the end of the day believe you are being the best mummy you can be. Because you are. The pressure to be the 'best mum' is hard enough without the added pressure of social media. Social media doesn't need to tell you that you are a good mum and you definitely don't need to tell social media. 

(But you can post all the photos that you like)...

 Jen and Cub


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