U N E A S E
Collaboration between Clara de Bertodano and Caroline de Bertodano
Photography, whether selfies or self portraits on social media, especially Instagram, have become increasingly ‘intimate’ & ‘provocative’. But what is the effect on young children & teenagers between 10 and 19 years old?
By Clara de Bertodano (16yrs old)
“I hate myself, I hate my life and everyone in it. It seems as if I can never please everyone or even anyone, and just need someone to agree with me, approve of me, or just pretend they do. I despise my character and my looks, and my mind, body and soul seem to be united by a sole hatred, my own”
These are the (narrowed down) thoughts I think many teenage girls, such as myself, have to fight against. Each one of us has a different way to deal with them, which might be defined as depressive or just part of life itself, by suppressing them, ignoring them, trying to find solutions if we choose to call them problems or just accepting them and trying to modify them in order to feel well; the latter being the one I hope I apply in life.
Nevertheless, these thoughts can take over your life and even start controlling it. They can lead a person resorting to the Internet, in particular Instagram, just to get approval while hiding behind a screen, an ideal, imagery. They can start obsessing over the amount of followers, likes and comments they have and start basing their success in life on numbers.
Some “instagrammers” start showing their body, parts of it or a bit too much of it, seeking for attention and approval, without evaluating the cost and consequence that this might have on their lives. This could affect them physically because they may start searching for a perfect body that doesn’t exist and getting frustrated over it, and mentally because all they care about is what is shown through pictures, as if they described who they are.
Furthermore, although they might get positive and encouraging comments to pursue this “vocation”, in real life people won’t take them seriously, may consider them sluts or worse, and make their thoughts known. They might even get to an extreme point where they shut down the real world and lock themselves in a room with a screen in front of them, thinking that this will make them happy.
And it all comes down to that – doing what you think will make you happy. If it does then I say keep doing it, but I am absolutely convinced that showing your body to complete strangers and basing your happiness in life on numbers can’t possibly make anyone happy, at least not in the long run. The happiness that matters is the one you can share with your loved ones and cherish throughout your entire life, during the good times and the bad times.
“I feel like there’s so much freedom, that the limit has vanished. They no longer distinguish between defending a woman’s body and looking sexy.” – Camila, 17, Argentina
“I don’t think that the women that post those pictures are insecure, but I do think that they make other girls insecure. They show what a body should look like and make other girls unhappy about their own body because it might not live up to society’s expectations, and that’s where all the illnesses and food disorders come to life.” – Clara G., 16, France/Argentina
“Personally, I wouldn’t post those kind of pictures, but I believe that everyone owns their own body and Instagram account, and they can do whatever they want and post whatever they want. I find it wrong that people call these women “sluts” just because of a picture, because in that picture they don’t show who they actually are. And very often, when a person uploads those kind of pictures it’s because they’re missing things in their lives (love, attention, etc.), and the last thing we should do, is judge them” – Ines, 16, Argentina
“I think they need attention and they use their sexuality to get it, and in some way they want to improve their self esteem, “overpower” or feel superior to everyone else” – Dominga, 17, Chile
“I think everyone should be free to do whatever they feel like doing. Instagram being what it is you don’t have to follow people, if you don’t want to follow someone you just don’t… In my opinion, there’s no difference in a girl showing off her body or a mom showing her child or someone their house decoration, their holiday blablabla” – Camille, 22, France
“I think the amount of sex in media and stuff has spiraled so far out of control that loads of girls are becoming prostitutes to some extent, and what is deemed as appropriate is getting more and more inappropriate. It’s more sickening that girls are hurting themselves to be objects of physical pleasure rather than human beings.” – Louis, 16, UK
By Caroline de Bertodano
Photography on social media, especially Instagram, whether selfies or self portraits, has become more ‘intimate’ and ‘provocative‘. Women either doing repeated coquette player poses or doing full nudity on feeds alongside pictures of their children. Some men are beginning to do similar things. Whether for social reasons or so called art, it is increasing.
There is a lot of talk amongst kids between the ages of 12-25 years old about this. With a view that it is out of control on social media, especially Instagram, giving rise to anxiety, inadequacy and feeling pressurized. Many young children, especially girls, have started copying these poses and feeling the need to remove clothes in order to fit in.
It is now commonplace to see people walking around looking at their mobile phones. Many on social media. Every photo uploaded is viewed by countless strangers. Likes & comments have become approval ratings. It is a fake world that has been accepted as a transient reality.
However, these images are labelled by adults; children have not yet learned to categorize them accordingly. The NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) and the Children’s Commissioner commissioned a report on how pornography impacted on children between the ages of 11-16. Full report available www.nscpcc.org.uk “I wasnt sure it was normal to watch it” 2016.
In summary, explicit images are desensitizing young people. Most have been exposed to some by their early teenage years, many girls feeling under pressure to expose themselves and many boys treating the girls like the images or films that they see. Many young people themselves concerned.
“I feel like pictures can sometimes be exposing and girls can get a bad reputation, and girls are judged by what they post. Generally, if someone of any gender uploads something exposing I judge them, but it’s only when they have a bf or gf when I see it as wrong.” – Josh, 16, UK
“I think they’re ridiculous in thinking that those pictures make them prettier and get them actual real attention from other people”. – Gaston, 13, Argentina
“They should do whatever they want, it’s their life, if they want to expose themselves in that manner and it makes them happy, then it’s fine. Nevertheless, I pity them a bit because if they upload those pictures, they do it for everyone to see, even people that don’t know them and will therefore only see them as objects or bodies, and not as an actual person. The problem would appear, if they didn’t realize people saw them in that way.” – Tamara, 16, Argentina
“It’s porn” – Rhea, 17, Lebanon
“To be honest, I feel like it’s as if they didn’t have a personality of their own and needed to get attention. It’s a matter of insecurity” – Catalina, 15, Argentina
“I think everyone has the right to show whatever they want of their body, and there’s no reason to make someone feel bad about themselves for it. Then there’s the subject as to why they do it. If they’re looking to compete with other people, are insecure or need someone to tell them they’re pretty, then that might not be the best solution for the problems they’re having. But because that’s each person’s issue, I’m not going to judge anyone for posting a picture on Instagram.” – Antonia, 16, USA
Clara & I did our own small survey to find out for ourselves how opinions varied. Not a single person, both in images and quotes, turned down the opportunity to affect change on this subject. I am all for free will and an advocate of artistic license but I personally would hate to be the cause of young girls’ descent into dark emotions & behaviour. The question remains, is it for the individual or social media to take responsibility & offer some protection for the vulnerable? All identities have been protected.
© Caroline de Bertodano 2016 2 CdeB’s © Clara de Bertodano 2016
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