By Christine Saah | Guest Blogger
Perfect skin. Perfect Hair. Perfect Smile. Perfect Body.
These images are thrown in my face constantly. If it’s not on some stupid magazine cover it is bound to be on some type of TV advertisement. These images find me and I am sure they find you too. It even finds me in a place that keeps me connected with my friends – Facebook. I don’t think I need to remind you just how popular Facebook is. Most people have a profile and like certain pages. It’s normal. I get that. However, there are negative consequences regardless of a pure intention.
Some of these consequences include comparing your life, at least as it appears online, to everyone else. Seeing one friend post photos from their trip to Rome is really exciting. That’s totally acceptable. But when we start to make our life without the trip to Rome seem less cool than our friend, we are letting external things define us. There’s another level to this comparing that’s much more dangerous than comparing vacations. It’s comparing our looks.
Seeing the perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect smile, and the perfect body in other people’s profile pictures makes us doubt our own looks. And when we don’t get as many likes the comparing game we play hinders us. The worst part is that we are all doing this to each other. I’m not saying don’t post the most artistic profile picture ever. In fact, I encourage you to post it. Facebook seems to be the place to visually express each person in the most positive light. What I am saying is do not post photos that take away from who you are as a person.
I do want to point out that if you seem perfect by definition of the world I sincerely doubt you are actually feeling confident about yourself all of the time. It’s all an image, complete with posting photos that lack modesty, or that make you seem like that girl that goes to way too many parties in the best dresses. It’s bad for you, letting that be your image, but it also gets inside other people’s minds. Your photos probably get the most likes, and another person seeing your photos is more than likely playing the comparison game. Let’s take a different scenario in which a person always posts 100% modest and truly beautiful photos of themselves. This is fine, but do you honestly think that person looks that perfect all the time? NO! Facebook starts to make it seem like that person is perfect, and can pressure both the viewer and the poster to be perfect in dress, body, and in other areas of life. The poster of the photos wants to keep getting the most likes, and the viewer wants to be like the poster. It’s a crazy cycle of comparison and changing something about ourselves visually, because of it. You can be both the victim and the cause of harm.
Sometimes this quest to put the most positive image leads to an increased dissatisfaction with our internal selves. The truth is Facebook isn’t the problem, but it is set up in a way to seem like a problem. We are letting the outside visual world become a way to define ourselves. What we need to do is challenge ourselves to define ourselves internally. Each of us has characteristics and gifts that make us who we are. As diverse as these elements are, there is still an essential component in understanding who we truly are. What is it?
We are all made in the image and likeness of God. This seems so simple, but it is so misunderstood. People think of the word image in the sense that is addressed above. They think of image as how we look to the world. I argue that this image of God we have is completely internal, and if we identify with God in all that we do our external will begin to match the internal. It doesn’t mean the perfect skin or hair. It means that our image in our soul will radiate into our actions, our joy in sufferings, and will help us to love being perfectly imperfect.
What can we do to change our thinking? Start with small steps. Maybe spend less time on Facebook and less time watching television. Stop comparing yourself. All of this is easier said than done. I still struggle with Facebook. I gave it a break for a few months and I felt completely liberated. I saw how much I would use it to compare. Instead let’s use Facebook without giving it the power to define our worth. It’s called social media for a reason. Socialize. Talk to friends and read really intriguing articles. Share it with the internet world. Don’t let it be more than that. DON’T LET IT BE WHO YOU ARE.