I was scrolling through Instagram as per my usual morning, afternoon, and nightly routine when I came across someone I follow showing off a new product. I follow many bloggers, influencers, fitness coaches, and celebrities because I like the design ideas and fashions tips. Although I frequently remind myself that Instagram is not real life, this post had me away more uncomfortable than usual.
It wasn’t the product that bothered me but rather the chosen #selfcaresunday hashtag. The woman was doing a step-by-step guide to applying various skincare products to her face and hair. Meanwhile, all I could think about was how utterly exhausting her self-care Sunday seems.
As a marketing professional and a lover of hashtags, I’m totally on board with her post and product selling. As an exhausted mom, wife, and human, I despise being told that self-care should mean more work and more money spent.
We all know that social media tells a different story, and I know I’m incredibly guilty of that. I’ve bribed my daughter with everything under the sun to get a cute #mommyandme matching outfit photo to the point where she actually likes taking them now. I’ve forced smiling family photos when my husband is begging me to just put the phone away. I’ve built campaigns, designed ads, and targeted my audiences to sell client’s products.
I get it.
But I’ve also felt the guilt of not washing my face the right way with the right products, not following the nutrition plan as perfectly as I should when working out, and not having a Wolf stove. Those red knobs haunt my dreams.
It’s impossible to measure up. Logically, I know that these same women do still have their bad days. They spill milk, change dirty diapers, and occasionally (I think) eat ice cream. But is knowing this enough to counter the toll that social media takes on our mental health? Is there a way to advertise more ethically?
When promoting products or simply posting to promote yourself, there are ways to create a balance. For example, #myselfcaresunday changes the meaning. What if influencers were to use that hashtag and then ask what their followers do for their self-care? That takes the pressure off them, believing that one way is the only way.
The trend as of late is for bloggers, influencers, and coaches to show you their “no-filter” lives via a quick glimpse of a semi-messy room, sitting on the floor a little sweaty, or only wearing concealer in a photo.
I appreciate the sentiment, but to be honest, I’m not opposed to your filtered life. I’d rather you owned it for what it is and sell it to me with integrity and honesty.
Tell me it took six tries to get a picture right. Tell me that you really do like the product you’re using, and you wish you had every Sunday free to use it. Tell me that you make a lot of money to afford to pay someone to clean your house, and that’s why it looks perfect. Tell me your fake chicken nuggets are delicious but don’t wave a bag of fast food on the screen and tell me how bad it is. You can sell me your meal plan without making me feel worse about those fries I ate yesterday.
Self-care is about doing what you need for YOURSELF to be mentally and physically OK. Like most things, when you shrink it down to fit into a little box, it loses its value.
Sell me your products. I believe they are good. But please stop selling me self-care without a disclaimer.