Insta Famous Insta Regret

© copyright 2020 Joanna Stromska, Ryerson University

With the rise of social media, the increase in images of people has grown. The drawing entitled “The ugly side of Instagram” shows a typical type of image that people take called a selfie. This drawing was created to show how it is easy to get sucked into the validation of online likes and positive comments. The excessive use of social media has resulted in a larger portion of young women feeling bad about themselves due to how strangers view them on the internet.

“The Ugly Side of Instagram”
Painting, Mix media on Cardstock,
April 30, 2020
© Joanna Stromska

Making “The ugly side of Instagram”

When I started to process of developing this image, I intended to show what can go into an Instagram selfie as well a what can happen after the image is taken. When I decided to make the drawing, I spent a while composing it along with the choice of what medium to use for each element. I wanted to make the picture of the girl light and colourful with a bright background. When it came to the blocked-off components, I always intended them to be blocked off with black to make them contrast strongly with the girl. Another way I made use of contrast in this composition was to make the blocked off elements more solid in colour with minimal shading, unlike the girl which is softer and has a depth to her.  Each element of this image works together and independently to express the issues in how validation from strangers can change someone’s body image. Another aspect of the image I was particular about was the hashtags. I wanted them to show some similarities between my fake Instagramer to real ones. As the use of the “sugar bear hair” hashtag was intentional as it was a trend that I saw pass through Instagram and held for about 2 years. This company claimed to promote hair growth and during its hight in popularity girls would not just take the gummy bears but also grow out their hair, as long hair was popular. I first drew the girl with long hair unintentional to adding the hashtag, however, when I came across it when looking over what hashtags were popular and posted together, I had to add it. This shows how a trend can cause people to do the same thing to make them grow in popularity. Lastly to finish the drawing I also made the background behind the Instagram post black. I had thought of making it look like the image was on a phone but after some deliberation, I concluded that a solid black background would be more compelling. The way the blocks melt into the background and the way the image looks to be lost in an abyss works with the way that the internet is a vast wasteland of content and everything is seemingly lost their forever.

Social medias effect on female self-image

Social media has caused an obsession in people of being validated by strangers. In “The ugly side of Instagram” this validation is shown by the iv bags. One representing likes with red liquid and the other comments with blue liquid, with a bar graph next to it showing the number of likes and comments\received. These work with the cartoon heart image. As the heart is filled with purple liquid as it is a mix of both likes and comments that feed the heart beating. However, there is a distinct thing to also take into account while the amount of likes and comments received is huge the heart is still only a quarter full. This is for no matter how much validation one gets it is never enough. Another thing that also must be taking into account is the negative side of comments. Not all comments are positive and because of that people will turn to other things to get the same positive validation from the negative commenters. When in reality that is impossible as they will always be negative, and having those get to you can result in depression and anxiety. As well as an obsession to prove that they are not whatever the negative comment claims. To develop the perfect look some, turn to photoshop, which while still can cause a negative view on body image it is still better than the alternative. People have been having had plastic surgery for a long while now. But the rise of social media has sprung more young people to get procedures that they do not need to, like lip injections to get plump full lips. Like any plastic surgery or surgery, there are risk factors in having them done. Another thing that can cause permanent issues with one’s body is diet pills that are shown as nondescript pills in “The ugly side of Instagram”. As scientists have stated on many different news outlets that there is no actual miracle drug that can cause weight loss. However, some drugs can cause weight loss with negative side effects. “The ugly side of Instagram” was to show all these issues with a more stylistic narrative. Like all art, this was to start a conversation not just straight up tell you what is wrong. As posters with lots of writing sometimes lose people’s interests or feel very pretentious. One other aspect of this image that was never intentional but a side effect of my art style is that the girl in the drawing looks almost Disney like in style. This makes her seem more innocent with larger eyes then realistic art. Like the reality of what she could fall into has not reached her yet but its lurking just behind the corner, similarly how all the heroines in Disney movies will stumble onto tragedy to find a way out of it eventually somewhat whole. This girl can also fall deeper into the trap that social media has allowed festering.

When I started out working on this poster, I wanted to create something that is both a warning on what can happen to someone when they get overly obsessed with social media and the numbers. But also, not a straight-up sign saying the words “beware danger ahead”. As all young people will do the opposite of it just to spite the warning. I wanted ultimately to create a work of art that if it is hanged in a gallery, passed on the side of a building or posted online will strike up a conversation.