Help! The girls I follow on Instagram are all so pretty, it makes me feel bad

  • This week we discuss self-confidence and relationships in an age of social media
  • If you have difficult, embarrassing or awkward questions to ask about teen life, send them in anonymously, and ‘Friend of a Friend’ will do their best to help you
Amalissa Hall |
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It's totally reasonable not to like it if your boyfriend/girlfriend posts your problems on social media for likes.

Hi Friend,
The girls I follow on Instagram are so pretty, and honestly, I feel ugly. I’ll take photos with different filters to look better, but it only makes me feel worse because I know I don’t look like that. What I really want is to get cosmetic surgery one day, because these girls probably have had it too, but I know it’s considered wrong. How can I change my way of thinking about myself?
Girl in a Barbie World

Hi Girl,
First of all, you are not ugly – you are holding yourself to standards of beauty that you believe you don’t meet. When you follow and interact with similar people on Instagram, the algorithm will show you more of the same thing.

The longer you spend online, the more likely your idea of these standards will be affected, and using filters regularly will warp your perception of your face. For now I think it’s time to unfollow some of these accounts or spend less time on the app, and stop taking photos with filters. Out of sight, out of mind.

Help! I’m burned out and I can’t study

Remember that beauty trends change with the times. In the 1960s, lots of eyeliner and pale lips was fashionable, and then in the 1990s it was all about skinny eyebrows and wearing dark lipliner. Right now it’s trendy to have fuller lips, fox eyes and a contoured face, but these things can be achieved with makeup to highlight your features if you want to play around with your look! Beauty is always changing.

Honestly, there’s nothing “wrong” with cosmetic surgery. There is a tendency to judge people who have it done, because we equate it with being insecure, but some people get subtle surgery to make them feel more confident. That may work for them, but honestly there is no guarantee that it won’t kick start a list of other things you’ll want to worry about.

You should 100 per cent wait until you’re much older and have your own money to decide if it’s something you really want. For now, learn to love what you have.

How do I help a friend with an eating disorder?

You are your own person, so don’t compare yourself to others, although that’s easier said than done. Find something you like about yourself and acknowledge it! If you like your eyebrows, groom them. If you like your lips, smile more. More importantly, be kinder to yourself, and treat yourself with respect. Never put yourself down because of someone else! Confidence and personality is a big part of beauty, and if you are comfortable with yourself, people will notice that far more than your cheekbones.

Finally, you can follow beautiful people online, but it’s important to learn how to appreciate beauty objectively. So instead of comparing yourself to them, and thinking “why don’t I look like her/him”, try to shift that into “she/he has great bone structure” or “she/he is very good at applying make up” and leave it there. Remember that the photos you see online could be edited, touched up or taken from a certain angle to make the individual look better. For some of these models or influencers, looking good is a full time job. It’s just not realistic for the average student.

It will take some time, but I hope you can understand that you are beautiful, and that you are worth much more than what you look like.
Take care, Friend of a Friend.

Remember not to compare yourself to people on Instagram!

Hi Friend,
My girlfriend talks to her friends about every detail in our relationship, including all the good and bad things, and it’s making me uncomfortable. She’ll also post cryptic pictures or messages online if we’ve had an argument.

I feel like our issues don’t need to be shared with everyone, and it’s awkward because sometimes her friends will bring this stuff up with me and I don’t want to talk about it with them. I’ve asked my girlfriend to stop, but she doesn’t think it’s a problem. What should I do?
Airing Our Laundry

Hi Airing Laundry,
I completely understand that you want privacy in your relationship – that’s a fair ask to want to keep personal details between the two of you. Clearly you are both having issues with your communication, so you need to have an honest conversation with your girlfriend about her actions and how they make you feel.

You’ve said that you asked her to stop sharing with her friends and online, but have you expressed why that’s important to you? If she understands why you prefer to keep things private – for example, telling her you feel uncomfortable with lots of people knowing your problems – then maybe she’d see from your perspective and reassess her choices. If all else fails, you could turn the tables on her so she can think about it personally: ask her how would she feel if you spoke to your friends so openly about all the details of your relationship?

Help! How do I discuss mental health as a guy?

Do you know why your girlfriend is turning to her friends? You should find out if she is genuinely looking for advice about your relationship, or if your day to day life is a conversation starter for her. If you can understand her motivations, then it will make resolving this predicament a bit easier.

From what it sounds like, you don’t want to discuss private matters with your girlfriend’s friends. Most girls rely on their friends to listen to their problems, but it seems intrusive for them to then talk to you without you being a part of the initial conversation. Perhaps her friends think they are helping your relationship, but in the future, you can ask them to respectfully stop because you don’t want to discuss your relationship with others. Try to find a compromise – your girlfriend can offload to her friends, but she agrees to ask them to stop coming up to you.

I have a crush on my friend - what do I do?

She seems to rely on public validation, as she posts vaguely about your relationship online. Does she get a lot of responses to her stories or posts, and is that why she continues to share? Or is it for the thrill of causing drama between the two of you? Again you need to clearly explain to her why you feel this is problematic, because it seems she doesn’t understand the extent of your hurt right now.

You can tell her that you entered a relationship with her, not her friends and her social media accounts, and that you’d rather resolve issues between the two you.

Finally, if after discussing all this and she doesn’t seem to want to change, think about whether this is something you want to continue dealing with. You should know that you don’t need to. You are both young, and this relationship may not be forever. If her actions are a deal breaker, you can walk away from it and end the relationship.

I hope you two find a solution.
Best of luck, Friend of a Friend.

If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please send an email to [email protected] with “Asking for a Friend” in the subject line. Don’t worry, you will remain anonymous!

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