My name is Bella Younger and I have a lot of followers on Instagram. 143,000 to be precise, but it's not what you think I promise. My account isn't peppered with flatlays and perfectly groomed selfies, its full of pictures of me, looking like, well me. The reaction so far has been largely positive. I am an influencer of the unspirational variety. People go to my account to laugh, not for tips on the perfect eyebrow. But for some, this has been difficult to swallow.
A few months after I had started my Instagram, the Daily Mail, wrote an admittedly kind and positive piece about my Instagram. 'Hilarious' they said, 'a breath of fresh air.' I quietly thought to myself 'girl done good.'
The next morning I was lying in bed, and I scrolled slowly down into the comments section. I knew I shouldn't do it, but I also couldn't stop. It was then that I read the fateful words...
"She looks like an orc on a day trip to earth."
When somebody calls you an orc, all you can do is laugh. I know that I don't look like an orc, that sad man in the comments section knows I don't look like an orc, and yet, that same man thought to himself, I don't find this woman attractive and I'm going to let her know.
Now, I am lucky that I don't really care what some sad man behind a computer screen said. This is my face. Take it or leave it, and if you don't want to look at it, don't. What I do care about, is that when I appear in a national newspaper, the first thing I am judged on, is my looks. For women, our looks are often considered more important than our achievements. We are much more likely to congratulate someone on being beautiful, than we are on being clever, funny or kind, and when we see a woman in the public eye, we expect her to subscribe to our beauty standards.
If you think about the women you follow on Instagram, do you follow them because you think they're clever, or because they are pretty? Do you envy their successes, or do you envy their bodies. As a society, we are obsessed with women who are pretty, we are obsessed with women who we think are perfect. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a bit of inspiration but when does it stop being #inspo and start affecting our self esteem.
When I ask my friends who they follow on Instagram, it's usually a range of their mates, Victoria's Secret models and wellness bloggers. I have found myself gazing at 'real life pictures' where they're larking about, or perfect pictures of them 'chilling on the beach.' You start to wonder why you don't look like that when you're chilling. You start to wonder why you're not on the beach. Let me tell you, there is a reason there are only 15 Victoria's Secret models. That's because there are only 15 women in the world who look like that.
When I was younger. I was insecure about my looks. Probably because between the ages of 11 and 15 I looked exactly like Heath Ledger circa a Knight's Tale. My schoolmates called me Heath and I was sure that I was hideous. I used to pull pictures of beautiful women out of magazines and pin them on my pinboard. I was comparing myself to them, but I knew it wasn't real. I knew about airbrushing and photoshop. I knew that these models were on the beach for a job.
With Instagram, it's different. It's easy to forget that people use apps to alter their appearance. It's easy to forget that an Instagram account is a highlights reel of somebodies life. It gives the impression that you are looking through a window into someone's real life, but really these images are often as constructed as the one's in the magazines.
People will always Instagram the party, rather than the hangover. They'll Instagram the holiday and not the delayed flight. The life they post online is a fantasy, and it's important that we remember that.
HuffPost UK is running a month-long project in March called All Women Everywhere, providing a platform to reflect the diverse mix of female experience and voices in Britain today
Through blogs, features and video, we'll be exploring the issues facing women specific to their age, ethnicity, social status, sexuality and gender identity. If you'd like to blog on our platform around these topics, email firstname.lastname@example.org