I used to have an Instagram and then I deleted it. I followed all sorts of seemingly normal people. I liked seeing photos of people’s puppies, their families at graduation. I could even stand a trite “I’m worth it” pose every now and then, and did always love the “I took a photo of my latte art WITHOUT dropping my phone in it! Celebrate me!” shots, or even “Here’s a hipster shot of my girlfriend’s elbow and a mountain/tree/landscape.” My feed was once full of innocuous and pleasing distractions. These images allowed me to scroll endlessly past photo after photo without feeling the jolting need for self-reflection through my nervous system. Scroll, scroll, occasional pause, scroll, scroll, scroll. What a lovely Instagram life I could have kept.
And then, something changed.
Suddenly vibrant folk were arching their backs out next to diuretic teas. They aimed their butts at the camera, as though insisting that you observe the laxative pre-farts percolating. “This tea is effective” the faces smirked, “But look at this butt! Look at the potential goodness this tush expels!” Okay. I guess the message is no longer aimed at what I already know about health and fitness and vitality and life. I have to decipher the code of this Callipygian image. The message is now “poop your way to glowing … glute.. health?” I frantically scroll past. But shot after shot is a framed bottom, posing next to some other marketed consumable that will “help you meet your goals faster!” Can I be the first person to rename Instagram as Ass-tagram©? Oh boy, the true material of this rant is yet to come.
Someone who used to eat Cadbury chocolates with me now employs every meal she eats as a photo op. Each meal is now worth documenting because “it’s healthy!” Foods are the new models, bending into karma-sutric poses to please the eye. Quinoa is photogenic as… Pile of Quinoa. Salad is now leaves artfully draped on top of a rainbow-bed of vegetables. Baked tofu poses as… “I look better than I taste.” One particular photo of hers infuriated me (because I’m melodramatic like you wouldn’t believe).
It was a photo of the one square of Dark Chocolate she allows herself for desert.
“With a glass of wine, this is so heart healthy! And guilt free!”
Ahh.. being sold lifestyles. Marketing commits subtle crimes through selling us health. We eat it all up, these elixirs of forever, thinking we can nom our way into eternal youth. Marketing binds us to choices that best express the narratives we craft for ourselves. But marketing has succeeded in not only stoking what we already believe in. Great marketing succeeds by altering what we desire altogether. In this case, it made dark chocolate look like the Idris Elba of the candy aisle. Nowadays, Dark chocolate communicates richness, luxury, depth. To choose milk chocolate after knowing about dark chocolate is succumbing to the most shallow and saccharine aspects of your soul. In the instance with chocolate, I am almost certain that if it weren’t for notions of the latent health concealed in the Darkest of Chocolates, there would be no reason to consume it over milk chocolate. They have just sold it to me marvelously and because, hey, I somewhat care about my heart health.
I no longer have to bother with the consumptive invitations of an Instagram feed. Before and after photos. Anterior Pelvic Tilt. Detox tea. Reposted workouts of a person squat-hopping up and down the Stairmaster. Endless belfies that signify gym accomplishments. I mean, I guess these are interesting. But the message is different. It’s not subtle. I can’t scroll at leisure anymore without getting annoyed and wondering how a tea relates to a a butt without then thinking of poops. Each image is commanding more than just my looking but my actions in ways that I did not go to Instagram for. No, I did not subsribe to Fitness, the new religion. Yet, I am bombarded by band-hopping prophets clad in stretchy shorts, and their images are some kind of new bible. They tout the latest in protein powders and fart tea. Dark chocolate is how they “treat themselves.” On the one hand, who can resist? An image gives me the instant gratification of fantasy: I think I can be what I am looking at. I would love to be a small, muscular female. Chun Li is my hero — these photos could have reviewed my psyche and saw what to sell. Instead, I saw the chocolate photo that irked me and pontificated too hard on what was wrong with the world. #firstworldproblems #pretentious
When we have to be narrated out of our current story to consume yet another new thing, is it really worth rewriting who we are? My feed used to reflect my shallow values. Then it began force feeding me new values I couldn’t stand by. I already believe exercise is awesome, but do I need it paired with a bunch of butts and Laxative tea ? A strong butt is good motivation to have especially to get off my own, but looking at one does not give me one. Finally, dark chocolate is awesome. But I would not ever eat it for “my health.” If you must eat chocolate, eat it because it feels good. Let the consumption of chocolate, milk, dark, black, white, what-have-you, be the choice that you make without buying into the health-nuttery around you. If you want to commit food sins, do so. Realize that when it comes to food, everything is permitted.