Lord knows I love a selfie. But lately scrolling through Instagram is starting to feel like I'm flicking through the Stepford Wives Yellow Pages. (Young People, the 'Yellow Pages' was something people used to use before Google. It was a book? Like a Kindle but with real pages? OK, cool.)
Photo after photo, women pop up with near identical pouts, long hair extensions and brows which are, supposedly 'on fleek' (seriously, stop). And before you start typing a scathing "It's because you're jealous you ugly feminist writer lady" young keyboard warrior, I'll stop you there. Many of these women look all kinds of pretty, but what worries me is the homogeneous nature of their posts.
With a plethora of airbrushing apps and an eerily similar photo composition it's become a breeding ground for human Barbies. And my question is; when did our idea of beauty get so plastic?
Like many, I can see the virtue of a good Instagram filter. In fact, I would happily give the creator of said filter a giant snog for making my face look supremely better than it does in real life. And um, as if I'm going to post a photo without one when I'm contending with said Insta-clones. I would look like a swamp creature.
This homogeneous, and not to mention very narrow, ideal of beauty is one WAGs of the noughties championed but now it's making an appearance in the everyday lives of us mere civilians.
OK, so I have a confession. I haven't been into an actual real life club in a while. I'm almost 26 and clearly going through an early mid-life crisis. I would always choose a night in with a bottle of wine and the boyfriend over pricey drinks and pretension, so sue me.
But when I do go, I'm confronted with a sea of near-identical lady-bots, all in a uniform of body-con and fake eyelashes. And it makes me a little bit sad.
Now, at this point I must admit that I work in social media so I will defend it until my death (or at least until I get discovered by a top model agency and get whisked away on a private jet. Hi, Select, I'm ready whenever.)
But I do think it has a lot to answer for. As humans, I think it's natural for us to want to be part of something, whether that's a community in the physical sense or, more recently, online. However, I do think there's a danger of us slowly losing our individuality. Our little quirks and idiosyncrasies are what make us unique after all.
The impact of the Insta-clones can shake even the most robust characters. Following a particularly intense Instagram sesh I found myself longing for hair extensions. Even though, with my pixie haircut they would, quite frankly, look ridiculous. And this is no offence to those hair extension advocates - the point is it just isn't my style. Stop making me question my crew-cut, goddamnit.
Also I once tried some clip on ones for a night out and had to take them out an hour in because I was SO HOT. And I can tell you now, it is extremely awkward explaining why you have a clutch bag full of human hair.
Enter the one-woman game changer, Stefania Ferrario. She's changing perceptions of beauty, one unnervingly beautiful photo at a time. Stefania started the #DropThePlus campaign which aims to dismantle narrow perceptions of beauty in the model world. Yes, she's stunning. Yes she's white. But with her short hair (I'm biased) and curves which are enough to make a grown woman weep (me) she is a true inspiration.
And if you manage to scroll past the reams of lady-bots, you'll notice there is a bit of a movement growing. I may not be best placed to comment as a heterosexual woman, but I imagine social media provides the LGBT community a great platform to discover their true selves without judgment. Especially if you come from a little insular town in the West Country, such as myself.
Social media is a good egg really.
If the images we were scrolling through everyday celebrated a diverse range of beauty, maybe we'd all be a little bit happier with what we've got. And if the latest petition to take down that Bikini Body advert in the tube is anything to go by, people are ready for something different.
Whatever you look like, embrace it. Don't try to alter yourself to fit in with something you're not. And whatever you do, be your own kind of beautiful.Suggest a correction