Restructuring my Instagram improved my self-esteem

Photo courtesy of Allie Ghisson, Student Publications

If you were to look at my Instagram feed a year ago, you would have seen pictures from people I attended high school with (whom I had not seen since graduation), ‘finsta’ posts of those same people complaining about trivial things — like how their name was spelled wrong on their Starbucks cup — an array of influencers who are ridiculously rich for no reason and a whole lot of drag queens.

I knew there was something wrong with my social media, but I could not quite put my finger on it yet. I was constantly deleting my apps and taking “breaks” from my accounts on an almost monthly basis. I told myself that I deleted the apps to be more productive towards my school work, but deep down I knew that I had an incredibly toxic relationship with social media.

A scroll through my Instagram feed used to be a form of self-torture. I was forcing myself to engage with people’s posts who I was irrelevant to and had no real connection or shared interest with. Everyone seemed to be more social, more fit, more wealthy, more popular and overall more interesting than me.

I was obsessed with following along with the busy lives of social media influencers and my own small town celebrities. I had an acute fear that if I were to unfollow these people I would face some sort of social repercussion for not being able to readily discuss Kylie Jenner’s most recent post or tweet.

That fear vanished within my first semester of college, when I realized there were bigger and better things to talk about. Thus began a mass unfollowing and following spree for me. For years my Instagram had been tailored towards images of what I thought I wanted in life: tinier waist, popularity and perfectly filtered photographs. Now, my feed looks more like me.

I knew I would never look like a Kardashian, so why would I flood my timeline with images of something unattainable when I could be getting inspiration from people that actually look like me? That is when I found the wonderful world of plus-size social media. It seems so simple, but it had never occurred to me to follow people my size.

The first plus size influencer I followed was @pasyshia, a fashionista based in Minnesota. Seeing someone of similar proportions consistently post in incredibly cute outfits, and seeing her have an immense following because of it, was a game changer for me.

I could not believe the vast admiration, appreciation and support the plus size social community generated and I could not believe I had not been a part of it until now. This complete overhaul of my social media platforms was long overdue.

Now, if I am abruptly stopping my scrolling and clicking out of the app it is not because I saw something that made me upset. Most of the time, it is because I am rushing to the website to cop the same Torrid dress I just saw one of my favorite plus size models wearing in a post.

Similarly, diversifying my followings and creating a social community based on my interests has left me in a better mood and my feeds more inspired.

If you look at my Instagram feed now, you will see more creative photography, plus-size beauties, literary memes and, most importantly, even more drag queens.

So the next time you feel like you need to take a social media break, I encourage you to reevaluate who and what you are following and consider breaking up with them instead.