My sister and I have always fought about clothes. When I was 14 and she was 9, she’d want to wear exactly the same outfit as me for practically every occasion…
As a newly-turned teen with an identity to figure out, I found this completely suffocating and incredibly embarrassing. I can still hear my mum’s ‘be nice to each other’ yells echoing up the stairs as my sister strolled around in my favourite checked shirt whilst I tried to rip it off her. Through my rage, I failed to notice what was truly going on in that moment. I was influencing her. On a very small scale, but it was still influencing. To this day, I can still ransack my sister’s wardrobe and find a minimum of five pieces that belong to me. It’s most definitely a sister thing but also, in a way, just a human thing. If I had the ability to steal some of my friend’s clothes and get away with it like a sister could, I probably would. And, don’t even get me started on my favourite influencers’ wardrobes.
The rise of Instagram’s influencer world seems to have reached boiling point. Like a cauldron full to the brim, it is bubbling away at rapid speed but the faster it bubbles, the more frequent it spits flaming-hot potion in your face. We seem to be consuming social media now at such a rate that we are totally blindsided by the ‘bad’ that it is doing. Like smoking in the fifties, society cannot ban us from doing such things – it’s up to us to take control.
I want to point out that I am not writing this to slate influencers – I couldn’t be without them now. I completely get the appeal and I’ve been here from the beginning – yes, all the way back to when people actually read blogs. Anyone remember Tavi Gevinson? Sometimes (pretty much all the time), I love nothing more than scrolling through my Instagram feed saving those beautiful, sweet square blocks of style inspiration. It’s addictive. Like crack cocaine (I imagine). It’s something we now need in our lives to keep us ticking and I do believe it should remain that way to some extent.
I do think, however, that it is somewhat stifling our creativity; our flair to be completely unique. The ability to like an influencer’s picture, discover where their clothes are from, purchase them and style them in nearly exactly the same way is frighteningly appealing to even someone like me who tries her entire wardrobe on for fun on Sunday evenings. It’s also a very easy way to feel like you’re part of a gang. Want to be like her and be her friend? Buy that dress she’s wearing in her latest post. It sounds rather ridiculous when you spell it out, but subconsciously we are all doing it. It’s a simplistic thing to be influenced and it takes less brain cells than to think about what we truly want to wear and who we truly want to be.
As we all become more cognisant to the fact that social media is subtly screwing us over, we all need to realise that, actually, it’s us who need to change. We wouldn’t all be staring at our phones all day if we didn’t love Instagram, however there has to be a point where we start to give our scrolling thumbs a bit of a rest. Still follow your favourite people who influence you, still like the dreamy posts that make you swoon but just be aware that it’s most important to follow your own true self – and let your sister borrow your clothes from time to time, too.
Here are five ways to start being style-influenced in a healthier way on Instagram:
1. Old pictures will reveal more than you think
Take a look back through your Facebook photo archives and examine your outfit choices in a positive manner. Yes, you may not want to wear a bodycon skirt ever again but you’ll start to see aspects of your style that maybe you haven’t thought about recently. We all have an individual look so be influenced by the former you.
2. You’re allowed to make mistakes
Don’t become obsessed with ‘Instagram perfectness’ because it is not reality. Taking risks on your style will help you gain confidence in knowing what you truly like to wear. It’ll also help you grow a ‘I don’t give a f*ck’ attitude. Take Carrie Bradshaw, for example. Her looks are sometimes bloody mental – but you respect her for it, don’t you?
3. Don’t compare yourself to them
It’s so, so easy to fall victim to this but you must stop comparing yourself to the people that fill your Instagram feed. Gravitate towards the influencers that are keeping it real and unfollow the ones who make you feel like there’s no way you could ever look like them because guess what – you can’t, it’s called filters and Perfect 365.
4. Try-on seshes are everything
Okay, so you bought a Zara top your favourite influencer posted on their feed recently. Firstly, that’s FINE. Secondly, that’s FINE. You are still allowed to be influenced, it’s just what you do next that’s crucial. Whack the top on, open your wardrobe and try it on with at least five different pieces. Experimenting will give you the individualism you should be seeking.
5. 50 followers? Still follow them
Don’t follow certain influencers because your friend is or because they have billions of followers. If you can relate to their style and their personality then that’s all that should matter. Instagram needs to be more of a level playing field and you can help make that happen.