An Honest Conversation about Judging Someone on Instagram
I debated on whether or not I was going to write the post you are reading right now because it isn't the one that I had planned for today. But when I woke up Thursday morning, wide awake at 3 AM, I knew it was a message that needed to be shared. Literally, Y'all, it is 3:40 AM when I'm writing this. It all started with a DM on Instagram. Instagram was letting me know that I had been tagged to do one of those Instagram story games. For this particular game, you were supposed to share a picture of yourself from one, three, and five years ago.
I instantly cringed when I saw the tag included a picture from five years ago. If you know me personally or have followed my journey for any long period of time, then you know that the last three to fourish years of my life (aka since meeting Justin) have been the best. But I knew that pictures of me five years would be an emotional roller coaster for me to look at, let alone share. But I shared the picture anyways.
If you looked at a picture of me now, you would see that I've gained weight. I mean, who hasn't, right? But my first reaction to seeing this picture was, "Dang, I look so skinny. How did I gain so much weight?" I instantly felt ashamed of myself for letting me talk to me like that. Especially when I knew that deep down, the picture didn't share the whole story. I was so critical of myself for not being that skinny anymore that I completely glossed over that part of my story.
The part that's hard to talk about. The part I'd much rather hide away than share in a public space on the internet for anyone to read.
Five years ago, for those of you who are like me and don't like to do Math, the year was 2013. It was the summer before my senior year of college, a time that, if I still had my Instagram from back then, would look like I was literally living my best life. But I was also in my worst state of mental health.
That's the story behind why I was so skinny. It's because, in order to cope with the lack of control in my life, I would spend the entire morning at the gym, literally 2 to 3 hours, before going to the pool and drinking for the rest of the day. I didn't drink because I liked the taste of beer or because it was "the thing to do", I drank to cope. I restricted my eating to probably one or two meals a day that probably mostly consisted of oatmeal and fruit or the local Mexican restaurant.
Let's backtrack a bit. The beginning of 2013 was rough for me for a few reasons. My parents were getting divorced, I lost my grandmother suddenly, and I got dumped by my then boyfriend a week later. I was on a large dose of antidepressants which I was not-so-smartly mixing with alcohol and a bad diet. I had a roommate that I couldn't stand and who had a bad habit of letting random guys come into our apartment when she wasn't there, which naturally scared the hell out of me. To put it lightly, I was miserable. I had hit rock bottom as far as I could tell and to me, it seemed like there was no way out.
Why am I telling you this? I'm telling this because if you looked at me now, it would look like I've "let myself go" since then. But what you didn't see were between then and now were the obsessive workouts, the yo-yo diets that don't work, and a black hole that continued to consume me until I moved to New York a year later. I'm telling you this because I think it's important that when you see a girl's picture on Instagram and your first thought is to pass judgment, to remind you that you don't know her story.
We could all be a little kinder, practice a little more grace, especially when it comes to social media. I have a challenge for you: the next time you feel yourself about to pass judgment on someone on Instagram or elsewhere (because let's be honest, we all have that compulsion), replace your judgment with kindness. Instead of saying, "Wow, she's really let herself go." why not replace that judgment with "Wow, she looks really happy," or "Wow, that dress/top/etc. looks great on her." The world is dark enough already, be the light.