Monday, 11 September 2017

Why Polaroids Are Scary AF


So, it's time to get honest with you (we all know I love a good 'honest' blog post)... A few months ago now I bought a Fujifilm Instax Polaroid camera and, as much as I love it, it's really made me think about a few things.

 The film is really expensive (about £1 per photo) and so I really don't want to waste them on any old thing. This is good because it really makes you think about what you want the photo to look like instead of snapping away and just deleting but...

It's really freakin' scary!

 Born in 1994, I am from that weird middle-of-the-road generation when it comes to technology. I just about remember dial up internet but I can't really remember not using computers in school. My childhood photos are all taken on disposable cameras but by the time I had hit my teenage years I had a phone that could take (grainy) photos and my dad had a DSLR camera (which I did break by falling over and smashing it against a wall during a photo shoot with my sister in which I dressed her up in a long pearl necklace and dodgy lip gloss) you can kind of work out my relationship with social media etc.

If you can't, basically, I had a Piczo and then a Bebo which meant (in another one of these weird staged photo shoots) dressing up in my 'best clothes' with make up on and taking loads of awkward duck face photos... or that pose where you do a V shape under your chin (you all know the one). I would then put them through a vigorous editing process of 'grained', 'sepia', 'negative' or 'black and white' if you want to be a bit classy. My life seemed to revolve around whose 'top 5' I was in and who was my 'other half' and I lived for people requesting to 'own' my selfies...

However cringy all this is to us in this generation now, the point is we have been used to picking the 'best photo' and putting it through an editing process. Our virtual popularity much out-weighed how we were viewed in real life (or how we treated others). We didn't have to confront things in person, we could do it all on MSN and before we knew it, we had forgotten what real life was.

So, like many other people my age, I've been drawn to the idea of Polaroid photos and I have a strong feeling that this could be a reason why. My generation seems to be yearning for simplicity again (I'm sure you know at least a few people who have bought vintage record players). It was only after I purchased my Fujifilm Instax and had to shake it like a Polaroid picture (who sang that in their head?) that I was aware of a strange wave of anxiety that had come over me.

I couldn't control what I looked like in this photo. I couldn't edit it! This photo is going to be the real me. The 'authentic' me and there's nothing I can do about it!

I've spoken about the truth behind my Instagram photos before and I understand that one huge thing my generation faces is the pressure to be perfect... to be an edited version of ourselves. So why do I feel so anxious when being faced with the raw, authentic truth of what I really look like when I am working really hard to create an honest, authentic representation of myself online (hense the name, lol). 

Am I a fraud?

It's such a strange cycle we're in and I know so many people (like me) who are desperate to break out of it. The problem is, I can't see it happening any time soon. I know I, and lots of other people have highlighted the problem with our generation and how we feel like we need to create a perfect facade of ourselves on social media. I just think it's such a difficult cycle to break out of. As long people are posting an edited, superficial version of themselves we will feel pressure to emulate that. So, feeling the pressure we do the same and so the cycle repeats.

I don't necessarily think I should feel guilty for that. Maybe the first step is being honest about how we're feeling and when a photo has been edited (although it is also easy to tell!)

Polaroids are so much fun and it's really nice to actually have to think artistically about what I want it to look like before I take a photo on my Fujifilm Instax. I guess that's the first step in moving away from this super clean, edited portrayal of ourselves. Small steps are better than no steps at all!

I'd love to hear if any of you have any tips in releasing the pressure to be perfect on social media or if you know of any influencers that are really good advocates for this. Not only would I love to be inspired by them, I'll probably write a blog post soon about my favourite body-confident content creators and it'd be great to get some new ones for that list!

Thank yaaaa, Olivia x



  1. This was interesting, and is something I'd never really thought about. I'm from the generation before you, who started taking pictures using film. In those days the average person had to be really determined if they were going to edit a photo (have it developed, scan it...) so mostly I didn't bother. These days I edit ALL the photos I keep, even if just a little. But they’re rarely of myself.

    It's interesting that being able to easily retouch / filter and share a photo has coincided with the technology to easily take pictures of yourself with something that's already in your pocket. Suddenly we can shoot ourselves anytime anywhere, make it look how we want, and push it out to the world in a flash.

    I think maybe where I (and others of my generation) differ from the younger folks is that we haven’t grown up expecting to share everything online. Plenty of us do anyway, but I think that extends less to lifestyle selfies than it does to other stuff on social media. My generation perhaps wonders why anyone would want to see lots of photos of ourselves if the only point is ‘here I am, perfect and looking gorgeous’; we grew up at a time when that simply wasn’t a thing.

    Social pressure to conform to the images we see, especially in these more connected times, can be nasty and unhealthy. For young girls it can be even worse; take a look at the photoshopped images from @femalesbodies on Insta – toxic stuff. Makes me angry.

    So when I read this blog, I liked what you were saying. I don’t know what the answer is to how we deal with the social pressure on young people especially over how they portray themselves. Changing the world isn’t easy. But I think as parents and friends we need to influence what we can; keep a close eye on our children and friends and make sure they celebrate who they are, how they are. Small steps are better than no steps :-)

    1. Thanks for your comment, Paul! As always, it's so interesting for me to hear your perspective as someone who is from the generation before me!

      I love how when you started taking photos, editing wasn't really a thing unless you were really into photography. I can't imagine how it would feel to be able to take a photo and have everyone accept that's just what it is.

      It's interesting how you say that your generation generally don't feel like they have to share everything online and that was a side I hadn't thought about as much. It must seem quite strange to you and others that everyone my age is constantly putting glossy photos of themselves up. I guess it could be seen as vein but, like you mentioned about how much pressure there is on social media these days, I think it's more about people trying to live up to what they think they should look like!

      I definitely agree that it's up to us to make small steps towards empowering the people close to us to feel comfortable in being themselves (imperfections and all!)I am really interested to see what happens in the future and whether it flips completely and it's 'uncool' to post highly edited photos... we'll see!


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