The danger of normality

Cathal Mc Cahey

Over the last number of weeks, the Irish blogging scene has been tormented by numerous Instagram accounts who are addressing influencers for editing their pictures and showing a lack of transparency to their followers for a number of reasons.

One name kept popping up, an anonymous Instagram account which apparently posted the edited and original photos side by side. They account has since been deleted however the criticism continues. While I don’t keep up to date with these so-called ‘influencers’ I was amused and wanted to see more. The difference between some of the photos is shocking.

At the end of the day, I really don’t care if someone chooses to Photoshop their photos and many people share this sentiment too. But the more I thought about it the more I began to care. These people are called influencers for a reason, they influence.

It would be wrong to criticise these influencers for editing photos because we all do it. When you throw up a new Instagram post, of course, you’re going to use filters and do some basic editing. To assume that people with a large following are going to put up raw unedited photos would be foolish. But to alter your own image drastically in a clear and devious attempt at passing it off as ‘normal’ to your followers is just wrong.

According to the National Suicide Research Foundation, the highest demographic for self-harm in Ireland last year was girls between 15-19 years old at one person in every 131. This statistic only refers to the people that were hospitalised due to their self-harm and excludes those who have not been admitted to hospital. Body image is a massive cause of self-harm and this is where this connection is made.

It’s no secret that young people are incredibly impressionable, especially young girls. With the growing dominance of social media in young people’s lives, influencers need to recognise this as they are a big part of young people’s lives. These photoshopped images have a lasting impression on young people, they see these images and perceive them as normal.

This is the problem, this idea that we have to be normal. There is no ‘normal’, everybody is unique. Instead of altering images of yourself to create this image of ‘normality’, aka a tiny waist with flawless skin, how about you embrace your uniqueness? Show your followers that you’re not afraid to embrace it and help make a lasting positive impact.

If being ‘normal’ is your objective, then you’re going to be chasing it for a long time. Everybody has different characteristics which make them who they are. Some people are taller than others, some people are bigger than others, some people are more social, some prefer their own company. The list is endless.

While it is also wrong to tell people that they are not allowed edit their pictures, influencers with a large following need to be aware that the content they publish is accepted by some as ‘normal’ and this can be dangerous for impressionable people.

Cathal Mc Cahey

Image Credit: Instagram