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Authenticity Online: Keeping it Real on Instagram

Abbey, a brunette blogger wearing an orange dress and knit card, poses in front of an old church, looking down and smiling

We influencer types have been having a tricky time of it on Instagram lately. And no, for once I'm not talking about the dodgy algorithm showing your photos to precisely 6.5 people or weird updates that make you swipe right through your newsfeed. This time I'm actually referring to the accusations of Insta fakery that have been running wild in the blogging community and beyond. When we should've been tucking into mince pies and wrapping our final gifts in the run up to Christmas, we were instead facepalming hard at the news that an Instagram star had photoshopped herself onto a beautiful Parisian view very VERY badly. And to top that, the Daily Fail also published an article about how many influencers now post fake #ads on Instagram to attract other sponsored deals. Sigh. It's enough to make you want to delete the app for good.

But while the mainstream media is very content to tar all influencers with the same brush, branding us all inauthentic money-hungry fakers, all is not lost. As many of you will (hopefully) have noticed, I have really been enjoying posting on my Instagram lately. My poor boyfriend has been roped into more outfit shots than ever before as I've been going down the fashion 'gramming route. However, despite trying to look put together on my feed, I've also made a conscious effort to keep it real. "How?" I hear you cry. Well, I'm glad you asked because today's post is all about Instagram realness. Here's how I'm trying to build myself as a fashion blogger WITHOUT succumbing to fakery.

A close up shot of Abbey's watch as she brushes her hair behind her ear
Watch: ADEXE (Gifted)

#Nomakeup #Nophotoshop

Believe it or not, I haven't worn makeup since June. When I moved out of my last student house for the summer, I shoved it all in a box and, well, it's never come out again. In fact, I'm not even sure where it's gone. Oops. My decision not to wear makeup in my daily life or on my Instagram feed largely comes from my conviction that the world needs to see more bare faced ladies. We are inundated with images of heavily made up, impossibly photoshopped women everywhere, especially on TV, social media, and in advertising, so I'm doing my little bit to buck this trend. If I've got spots, eye-bags and a red snotty nose from a winter cold, you're going to see it all. I never edit these things out (also partly due to the fact that I don't have those kinds of editing skillz). When I say "I woke up like this" in an Instagram caption, turns out I probably did. Makeup can be an amazing form of self expression and there are some incredibly talented makeup aficionados on Insta who create pieces of art on their faces but I feel like choosing not to wear makeup can be a form of self expression too. I think that we all deserve to be just as confident in our bare naked faces as we do when wearing a full coverage foundation.

Abbey, wearing an orange dress and a knit cardi pushed down off her shoulders, smiling at the camera
Dress: Primark (similar)
Cardigan: Thrifted (similar)

Only shooting outfits that I actually wear

Sadly I wasn't the lucky winner of a £76 million Euromillions jackpot in November. If I was, I might be able to purchase outfits just for the 'gram but as a student, that just isn't possible. Sure, in the past I have bought clothing pieces with the intention of shooting photos in them but I will usually only invest in new items if they have a "real life" use for me as well. For example, I purchased the gorgeous pair of Bershka trousers that I donned for my recent Being A Smartypants blog post with the intention of taking photos for Instagram, but I also wear those on a weekly basis at work. For that reason, I feel like they were a justified purchase. Of course, I'm not sitting here on my high horse slating those who do dress like princesses for their Instagram feeds because damn, those girls look AMAZING (Hello Miss Jordan is nothing short of a queen) but that aesthetic just wouldn't be authentically me, so by sticking to my "real life" wear, I feel like I'm keeping it real. You won't find me buying clothes, wearing them with the tags on for a photoshoot, and then returning them either.

Abbey, resting one leg against the wall, wears knit tights, orange dress, and black leather boots
Tights: Fat Face (similar)
Boots: Hotter (similar)

Posting photos that I don't like

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll see that I post my photos in batches of three. Every row features three photos in the same outfit, which (I hope) brings a nice continuity to my feed. However, sometimes I can get in a spot of bother with this: I'll have two photos from a shoot that came out really nicely - I'm not pulling a ridiculous face, my trousers aren't giving me a giant camel-toe, and my hands don't resemble dinosaur claws (trust me, this happens more often than you think). However, these two photos are more often than not accompanied by a third one which looks a bit whack. It's not the most flattering angle or facial expression, but I don't have any others to match with the nice two. My solution? Post the bad shot anyway. Why? Because I sure as hell don't always look perfect in real life, so why pretend that I do on Instagram? A wonky smile and a few crows feet here and there aren't going to hurt anyone - I like to think that people will respect me more for showing that we influencers aren't always primped and pristine.

So there we have it, here is my very own definition of Instagram realness. Yours might be totally different, but I hope that you enjoyed reading mine nonetheless! How do you keep it authentic on Instagram? Let me know in the comments.

Until next time,

A x