Re-discovering my style in a digital world
I got Instagram in 2013 and I remember my first ever post. It was a selfie of me in my birthday masquerade mask, laying on my bed, bouffant 60’s inspired hair with my cat (R.I.P. Tigger, you were a real one). The caption?
“Thought my first post should combine the generic Instagram stereotypes - cats, selfies and random objects unnecessarily being included in a photo - where’s the lunch at? #cat #mask #selfie #life #thoughtprovokingquote #lunch”
Let’s unpack. Clearly, in 2013, the app (in my mind) already had ‘generic stereotypes’ - having only been three years old, and only really took off in my friendship group that year. That was back in the good ol’ days, where pictures looked like they only had 3 pixels and the only editing was using the pre-programmed filters - Valencia, anyone? So, (blurry) cat pictures were all the range (I was churning them out heavily) and when I look back at my early posts, they also featured friends and family, pictures of my dinners and a lot of “arty” snaps of flowers, architecture, forests and rosé wine (Blossom Hill White Zinfandel may as well have been connected via an intravenous drip during this time).
Snippets of outfits were glimpsed - a vintage coat here, a Topshop dress there (I worked there during this time and found it impossible to leave a shift without a new garm). My style was questionable, but like any teenagers’ at the time, it was genuinely mine - influenced by the music I liked, the shops I worked in and the magazines I flicked through.
Over the years, instagram became more popular; we saw reality TV stars becoming influencers, and influencers becoming reality TV stars. At the same time, I started to see a more homogenised feed. Crushed grey velvet interiors, balayage hair, wet look leggings with cropped puffer jackets; that quilted Chanel bag, teddy coats, matching Fear of God ‘Essentials’ tracksuits and the same background - white townhouses.
Crushed grey velvet interiors, balayage hair, wet look leggings with cropped puffer jackets; that quilted Chanel bag, teddy coats, matching Fear of God ‘Essentials’ tracksuits and the same background - white townhouses.
Then one day, I bought myself a pair of black wet look leggings - when I tried them on at home and looked in the mirror, I realised I had been influenced by the gram.
It got me wondering, what is my style anymore? Do I really like these leggings or have I bought them just because they are popular? As someone who liked having a quirky style as a teenager, I decided I didn’t want to become “the same as everyone else”. But this is easier said than done.
I liked a few fashion reels, then my feed became full of Y2K girlies in bandeau tops, maxi skirts, Balenciaga sunglasses, slicked back hair and small gold earrings posing for the camera over 6 seconds of musical mashups. So although the style was different, it’s still more of the the same thing.
Unless you’re constantly following and engaging with a wide variety of different accounts, your feed probably has a theme. I’ve just spent 30 seconds scrolling, and mine currently is full of mid-century interiors, vegan recipes and and FIVE reels from a single brand. I don’t even follow the account, but I liked a picture of one of their skirts, so now my Insta is pummelling it in my face. Nice try, but I don’t have a spare £900 to spend.
Without us realising, the algorithm is serving us things we already see, an echo chamber of things we know we like. So if your feed has got a bit same-y, why not join me in actively liking and following different creators…until instagram learns about your new interests and then that becomes predictable.
It never ends, does it?