Instagram is the real world. Wait, what?!
Times, they are a changin'.
Overly photoshopped print advertising and fashion editorials are what the majority of us have always known. But these standards have come under serious scrutiny and aggressive fire for portraying a world that is beyond any form of reality. So fake, in fact, that the backlash has sprang from lawmakers in the UK to public interest groups right here in the US challenging the status quo.
Rigidly produced print ads that appear in monthly fashion glossies are actually fawned over by industry insiders, mainly because the process and result can be regarded as an art form, despite the end goal of the production being to sell a product or a label. The world's most renowned photographers, models and stylists are commissioned to work on these shoots; they exercise their critically acclaimed skills by collaborating on a creative process to translate a highly prestigious brand's image into an advertisement. NBD.
Same goes for magazine fashion editorials. Respected industry pros work for weeks on a story revolving around a unique concept to interpret the season's trends, which get brought to life with the right clothes, set, photography, model, hair and makeup. These fashion stories are meant to be inspirational and are not trying to hide behind a curtain of reality. That's how things have been done ever since Diana Vreeland said so.
In recent years, the world of editorial fashion was disrupted by a new crop of youngsters who were enamored with style, but were eager to use their own voices to talk about it instead of poring over unattainable high fashion glossies: bloggers. Thank you, Internet.
They garnered legions of fans who related to their personal take on putting together outfits, and in turn, they created not only a whole new industry, but they themselves became brands. Their clothes became increasingly sophisticated, as did the quality of their photography and their websites. The ones sticking it to the Man became the Man.
When Instagram started blowing up, it almost made blogs obsolete, taking authenticity and proximity to everyone's favorite style stars to an entire new level. It tapped into people's voyeuristic tendencies by making followers feel like they were taking a peek into the genuine worlds of people they held on pedestals. No overly produced imagery was going to fly here. Instagram is all about showcasing life as it gets lived, with DIY photos to put your style on display.
The authenticity factor that once appealed to a generation of kids fed up with consuming unrealistic, over-produced images is becoming severely compromised. With major corporations trying to get in on the action, combined with the appeal of fame and the human need to make a buck (or two), not a lot of rawness remains on everyone's favorite social network.
Instagram stars - a lot of them bloggers - began curating their galleries to portray a pretty perfect life, complete with flawless breakfast spreads, dreamy trips to exotic locations while decked out in designer gear, and going as far as engaging in the smart phone equivalent to photoshopping.
The irony in all of this faux Instagram life is that what still works best are the more candid photos that speak to an influencer's realness. Daily activities that are captured and packaged in a pretty bow. It's that balance between sincerity (whatever that means at this point) and aspirational (living a better life than yours). Every moment, some as banal as running errands, has become an opportunity to put on a show. And if the leaders are doing it, the trickle down effect is real. Cue social media envy.
With the help of Facebook, Instagram is moving into new territories and Snapchat is gaining ground for the exact reason that had propelled Insta in the first place: authenticity, spontaneity, realness, genuine moments, life as it is.
Don't discount the photo-sharing app, however. It still boasts pockets of raw talent that is on the brink of exploding into stratospheric recognition. Insta-celebrity is legitimate and those who play the game best win at it with organic content that users can't get enough of. Overly posed shots lose every time.
In the meantime, those who Instagram helped catapult to star status are just getting bigger and more powerful. So it's important to remember, they're just like us, struggles and all.
Maybe Instagram is real life after all.