Once again, Instagram makes me question the point of everything
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by Instagram’s sponsored ads.
You know, the ones that promise to make your life SO MUCH FREAKING BETTER. We’re talking clear skin, silky smooth hair, zero panty line, laughing-while-brushing-your-teeth better.
Just picture a beautiful, glowing 20-something with effortless beach waves sipping coffee under a weighted blanket. THAT is how great your life is going to be.
At least that’s what Instagram tells me in about every 5th post.
Just for a laugh (and to say I was doing “research” while actually just whittling away the hours on social media), I took a look at some of the products Instagram thinks I will enjoy.
- Food sensitivity test: $159 (Why would you PAY someone to tell you to eat less cheese?)
- Hair dryer “celebs are raving about” but actually just looks like a regular hair dryer: $249 (Imagine how much dry shampoo I could by with 249 DOLLARS.)
- “Tree-free” paper towels: Unsure because they wanted my e-mail address to even give me the price. (Also, just… How?)
- Lip gloss infused with “Time Released Hyaluronic Microspheres™”: $26 (Listen, I didn’t get a C in chemistry to listen to this bullshit.)
- Fall/winter shampoo brush: $36 (So many questions. First, how is this different from a spring/summer brush… It is a BRUSH. And second… IDK because I’m still stuck on the “brushing on your shampoo” part.)
- Gummy vitamins that allegedly cure PMS: $29.99 per month. (Ladies, you know I would pay one MILLION dollars for this if it actually worked. But I think we all know this doesn’t actually work. Or else women everywhere would be THROWING their money at it.)
- Sheets that keep your bed from smelling bad even when your dog rubs his face in it: $180 (OK, this is the only one I would consider, because it’s pet-related.)
Those were just the ones from the FIRST FIVE MINUTES.
People, we have graduated from infomercials and telemarketers, have we not? And yet here we are, believing that this SUPER SPECIAL towel will somehow make our hair thicker, shinier and awesome-er, just because Meghan Markle’s stylist says he used it on her once.
How do I know these ads are big fat liars, you ask? As you might have guessed, I am the proud owner of several of these “life changing” products, purchased as I sat on my couch in a Thanksgiving food coma, feeling REALLY lucky that I was getting 10% off. (10% off a product that is going to CHANGE MY LIFE? Honestly, I’m making money here.)
But here’s how those purchases actually play out:
- See a shapewear ad on Instagram and think OMG, MUST HAVE THAT. Look at all these smile-y ladies wearing tight-fitting dresses! THIS IS THE ANSWER TO ALL THE THINGS.
- Click on said ad, then promptly lose interest and go back to Instagram scrolling.
- Wake up in a cold sweat the next morning with shapewear on the mind. I MUST HAVE THE SHAPEWEAR.
- Am unable to find the ad from yesterday. Panic. Search “how to find Instagram ad history” on Google. Discover there is no way. Panic again.
- Three days later, shapewear ad graces my Instagram feed again. HUZZAH! This time I will not let God’s shapewear pass me by!
- Run, not walk, to get my credit card to purchase panties that are going to make me look like Beyonce in the Coachella opener. (Smooth and beautiful, but not too skinny, with a permanent fan pointed in my direction.)
- Purchase shapewear. Ignore my sweet brain trying to remind me that it’s Christmastime and I just moved into a new apartment, so maaaaybe this isn’t the time to invest in elaborate undergarments. Tell brain to take a hike. Push onward.
- Check FedEx tracking number daily to ensure shapewear is on its way. Soon I will be able to wear ALL THE THINGS and look like a silky goddess. Package cannot come soon enough.
- Package arrives. Again, run, not walk, to pick up at the office. Toss family’s Christmas presents aside and shimmy into spandex booty shorts.
- Pause. Turn in a circle. Realize these are really not that different from the high-waisted tights I already wear under dresses (except those cost $9). Put on dress to confirm. CURSES. FOILED AGAIN BY INSTAGRAM AND FALSE HOPES.
- Make plans to return shapewear. Discover the shipping is non-refundable, and I have to pay 8 more dollars to return. Say fuck it and throw panties in the back of my closet.
- Get on Instagram. See hair dryer that gives you an “instant salon look.” Return to Step 1.
And that, my friends, is the never ending story of Instagram, my credit card, and the idea that any product can “fix” you.
I saw a quote recently (probably on Instagram, ironically) that stuck with me:
“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” –G.K. Chesterton
Now listen, before you bail because I’m quoting a middle-aged white guy about gratitude (I despise “live laugh love” quotes WAY more than any human person should care enough to do), hear me out.
Nothing they sell on Instagram will make you happy.
Let me repeat: NOTHING THEY SELL ON INSTAGRAM WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY.
And for my friends who aren’t on the ‘gram, I offer this amendment: NOTHING THEY SELL ON FACEBOOK/CATALOGS/COMMERCIALS/HGTV WILL MAKE YOU HAPPY.
There are certainly products that can make your life brighter and easier. Right this minute, I am wearing a ThirdLove bra I purchased from Instagram that honestly is one of the better relationships I’ve ever been in.
But even when I’m wearing my BFF bra, I’ve still got the same problems, fears and insecurities I did before. I still snooze my alarm almost every day. I still look like a cherry tomato when I work out for 6 minutes. I still drink too much and have to tell people, “Yeah, that was me who wrote the blog post about drinking less. It’s a work in progress.”
In short: I didn’t turn into the wavy-haired goddesses that walk around in matching bralette-and-pajama-bottoms sets just because I purchased something new.
And, more importantly, you don’t need a single thing to make you more beautiful than you already are. And if you did, you certainly wouldn’t find it on a social media channel where teens are sharing videos of themselves eating Tide Pods.
Tldr: You’re great. (Even without the Hyaluronic Microspheres lip gloss.)
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