Last year, Dove interviewed more than ten thousand women and girls about body image and self-esteem. What it found is tragic: More than 80 percent of women are unhappy with the way they look. In another study, Dove found that it only takes a few minutes of looking through mainstream media to lower a girl’s self-esteem. As hard as it was to admit to myself at first, I too felt the negative effects of the media I was consuming.
I shared with Verily last year that on a daily basis I suffered from FOMO and body image insecurities as a result of my scrolling. These issues weren’t something I struggled with until I started over-consuming social media. Social media is my job here at Verily, so I can’t avoid it (nor do I want to). But I set out to combat the negative effects of social media by purging my newsfeed of anything that I thought could possibly have a harmful impact on my body image and self-esteem. I mostly unfollowed accounts that I deemed “too perfect” in search of more “real” social media personalities. I wanted to see more of the people I really care about and less Photoshopped #fitspo.
There was definitely a lot of value in that purge. I started using social media to connect with real people again. I spent a lot less time heading down the rabbit hole that I think we all know Facebook and Pinterest can be. After I got a grip on my social media diet, I found it easier to get so many other things in my life in order, too. With my confidence restored and work-life balance improved, I was able to appreciate more real-life moments—noticing and spending a moment longer than usual enjoying the swirls in my coffee or the sole flower of a potted plant—and that was a beautiful thing.
Recently, though, I found myself on social media more, adding back “inspiration” accounts. I started following this one Instagram account of a woman who works as a designer. Based solely on her account, it seems she has nothing to do but spend her life in cute London cafés. Not exactly relatable. But there is something about her posts that inspires me. She captures moments in a way that I can appreciate, even without being there.
And, of course, she isn’t the only one.
I’ve found so many other accounts that seem dedicated to capturing the beauty of life’s moments and sharing them with the world. When I need a ten-second break from the real world, a picture of a perfect latte or blooming peony can often do the trick. Inspiration comes in many forms.
I started to worry that I was slipping back into my old ways. But then I realized that some accounts—not the ones portraying a perfect life but the ones offering beautiful moments—are something else really important. I found myself remembering something I had learned long ago: There are people using the Internet to share the beauty of this world.
I’m being totally honest when I say that after adding these intentional tidbits of beauty to my visual diet, it helped me see the beauty in my real life, too. It was like I Marie Kondo–ed my social media feed. First I purged; then I reintroduced only things that brought me joy.
I realized the value of looking down at the colorful salad I threw together for lunch and appreciating it. I appreciated every flower I saw peeking through the snow, and my coffee mug next to my laptop no longer looked like just another workday. Every walk around the neighborhood and every cocktail with friends started to look like a moment in life that was worth appreciating. The Instagram accounts I followed taught me how to do so.
There is a big difference between appreciating what is beautiful and scrolling endlessly through media intended to make you want something you don’t have. Watching celebrities yachting or fitness models working out will never be helpful to me. But there are countless women documenting their very real journeys toward a happier life on social media.
Take Robin of The Balance Life or one of the dozens of women participating in her #21daysofpilates challenge. The standard on her account is not how many pounds you lose or holding a perfect pose; it’s about encouraging her followers to be the best versions of themselves. She keeps me focused on being healthy, not looking skinny.
Another account I’ve enjoyed re-following is Fit. Foodie. Nutter. because her account is a healthy mix of perfect styled vegan meals and hilarious behind-the-scenes outtakes. She doesn’t pretend that her meals are as perfect as the final photo would suggest, and I find that really encouraging.
Nastasia of Dame Traveler’s account may give you serious wanderlust, but the captions on her gorgeous photos keep it super-real and relatable. She makes me excited for my next vacation, not unhappy that I’m working today.
One lady who has mastered real inspiration is Verily’s own Sophie Caldecott. Sophie knows how to find the beauty of daily life better than anyone I know. She truly knows the art of capturing a #VerilyMoment.
Verily’s name means truly, and the #VerilyMoment movement began years ago as a way to share moments of authenticity in a world of Photoshopped and filtered media, captured by our readers. This doesn’t just apply to latte art and pretty brick houses with colored doors, though. Moments with people are some of the most captivating. I have been mesmerized by the work of Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York for years. Stanton is able to capture authentic human moments in very normal conversations, and then he shares those moments with the world. The memories you make with others are worth cherishing, too. Often, they are even worth saving and sharing with others.
Through all my social media Kondo-ing, I was reminded of a quote I once read: “Beauty is simply reality seen with the eyes of love.”
Real life is beautiful, and when you start to see the little Verily moments in your life and take the time to appreciate them, you’ll see the entire world through a new lens.
As author Mark Twain challenges us, “Give every day the chance to become the most beautiful day of your life.” By defining a beautiful day by small moments rather than momentous ones, I am more likely to reach that than ever.