The phrase ‘gram worthy’ and newly coined terms like ‘Instagrammable’ (we’re betting on it being the Oxford Dictionary’s 2019 Word Of The Year – you heard it here first) are expressions familiar to nearly all of us nowadays.
Picture this: you’re eating something vegan in a particularly aesthetic café; walls covered in macramé wall hangings, when all of a sudden, your friends around the table start eating before they’ve taken a picture of their food. Truly shocking.
Just like the fluctuation of anything that’s been overindulged, a significant rejection of what’s accepted as the norm is usually inevitable – and inspiringly, that’s starting to happen on Instagram. For the first time since the launch of the platform, some of Instagram’s standout stars are far less curated and flawless that we’ve ever seen before, and it’s the perfect example of authenticity doing its well-deserved job of selling. Indeed, as Instagram told us recently, ‘each day our platform increasingly becomes a space for body positivity and support.’
In its short existence, social media has already gone through various life-cycles. Currently, we’re seeing a huge increase in more accessible imagery that reflects real life standards, in conjunction with huge rises on mental health discussions within the social space. This finally gives influencers breathing space to showcase who they really are and what they stand for, rather than the copycat playground of countless glossy FaceTune-d selfies we’ve had to endure over the last 12 months or so.
According to a study conducted by Refinery29, 41% of women – especially between the ages of 15-29 – censor or edit themselves online because they are more worried about harassment, compared to just 33% of men. It’s so obvious to anyone that we’ve reached a pinnacle of toxicity when it comes to wildly unrealistic representations of life – especially for women.
Some are saying enough is enough. Take Jameela Jamil for example: she’s blazing a trail with her celebrity status that clears a path for more everyday influencers to take ownership of the social space they occupy – giving them the confidence to be their more authentic selves. Jameela has shared the excessive pain she’s felt after years of constant comparison to her peers online, and now she wants to make a change by supporting the upcoming generation into a far more genuine sharing process.
Jamil recently launched a series on her platform surrounding self-love and acceptance called @i_weigh, which works to dismantle society’s damaging standards of appearance. @i_weigh was a huge success, and eventually launched as its own platform. As part of its social strategy, Jamil interviews fellow celebrities on their relationships with their bodies and how that relationship has been influenced throughout their lives and careers. The first episode, that features singer Sam Smith, launched in March 2019 and already has 100k+ views – double the average ‘Likes’ on the account’s standard in-feed content.
The glamorisation of life is wearing thin, so this is the time for influencers who are already doing a brilliant job at showing the world who they truly are to really shine. Felicity Hayward who appears in the show ‘Naked Bodies’ has been sharing authentically for years. Felicity has been open and honest, happy to show her curves, her cellulite and her personality to her 240K Instagram followers, off the back of which she has launched a clothing company called ‘Self Love Brings Beauty’, encouraging people to love themselves for who and how they are. And Felicity isn’t alone. YouTubers Emma Chamberlain and Joanna Ceddia both often film their videos (watched by millions) on their iPhones, both rejecting the notion of a curated feed in favour of a messier and more unfiltered vibe.
Whilst the majority of millennial influencers who flashed their smashed avo on toast at every available opportunity by hauling DSLR cameras here there and everywhere, this new wave of Gen Z-ers are riding a strong wave of authenticity, and it’s only going to make Instagram a safer, stronger, cleverer, more satisfying platform to use.
As a brand, by leading with authenticity you might not get the same glossy assets you can repurpose for your own feed by working with a more ‘authentic’ influencer, but you will get the reach, the loyalty and trust these newly honest Instagram users are cultivating. Louis Vuitton just took Emma Chamberlain – a funny, modest, messy, spotty teenager – to Paris with Karlie Kloss for Fashion Week, sat her front row next to fashion icon Derek Blasberg (now her biggest fan) and have had well above the average view count on their YouTube video of the event. Tana Mongeau, creator of the infamously gigantic calamity that was Tanacon, just got given her very own MTV reality show, because real authenticity sells.
We’ve seen Instagram, we’ve seen Instagram Vs. Reality, and now we’re just seeing Reality. Long may it reign.