The closest I have ever been to Gigi Hadid was when I was watching Kanye West at Glastonbury and she was backstage, (apparently); it was a pivotal moment in mine, and my friends lives. Since then, we have considered her to be one of “the gang”. We document her every move in our WhatsApp group chat; admiring her for speaking out politically, squealing with excitement when she shows up on old episodes of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and send out daily prayers that she’ll ditch those narrow sunglasses, that seem to have somehow become the height of fashion. (side note: No, just No. unless you’re trying to look like that guy from star trek).
Last week we were a bit perplexed to see that she was photographed covering her face with her IPhone, which carried a warning. It read ‘Social Media Seriously Harms Your Mental Health’…. But Gigi is one of The Queens of Social Media.
‘Well then’, I cynically thought, this must be the new ‘must have’’ phone case, the successor to Chanel IPhone case that looked like a perfume bottle, or those amazing Moschino cases shaped like a box of MacDonald’s French fries; impractical and unaffordable but epic all the same.
I thought Gigi’s phone case must be a gimmick, a real life #sponsoredad attempt at irony. Some fashion house cashing in on the social media detox trend, (which has been brewing for a while now), by using one of the most popular faces on social media. Disappointed, I researched the aforementioned phone case extensively, ( i.e google image searched), and apart from a stray Etsy shop, I couldn’t locate a stockist or find any links between the phone case and big ad campaigns…
This led me to think back to a photography course I took recently, as a way to funnel the panic of my quarter-life-crisis – sadly it turns out my life’s purpose is not to be ‘the next Annie Lebovitz’. Anyway, part of the course was a lesson on Photoshop, in which I converted a photo of an ordinary woman into a someone that looked nothing at all like her real life self. She looked exactly like the women I see on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest– feted and applauded for their good looks.
In ten minutes I had Photoshopped this woman from how she did look, to how she should look. A long neck, spindly thin arms, not an ounce of fat and full pouting dewy pink lips. I had unwittingly become Frankenstein and created my own Like-Worthy Monster. I was horrified – these images we are bombarded with online, that we compare ourselves to, are a complete manipulation and concoction of computer skills and forgery. The penny had finally dropped, or so I thought. I still woke up the next morning, checked my social media and felt like crap. I told myself that I wasn’t good enough, my cheeks were too fat and my elbows were weird – even though I knew and had seen first hand, that what I was comparing myself to WASN’T REAL.
Gigi is arguably the face of the Social Media generation, a millionaire supermodel who perceptively lives an amazing life; her image is displayed on billboards in Times Square as the paradigm of beauty, and she has FORTY MILLION INSTAGRAM FOLLOWERS. But even she thinks social media can be damaging.
Yes social media can be great, it can connect and unite people and spread powerful messages, most recently the #metoo and the Time’s Up movement. However, it is not real life. It is a curated and manipulated image of what someone wants you to see, with the bad bits and the sad bits cropped out. We have got to stop basing our self-worth on something that isn’t real.
Personally, Gigi’s PSA has inspired me to make the last-minute decision to give up Instagram and Facebook for the remainder of Lent. It feels good to be out of the matrix and be present in the real world, not in an artificial online realm that doesn’t physically exist.
Thank you Gigi for holding up your IPhone in the glare of the flashbulbs, and in turn holding up and reiterating a powerful message to the world, you truly are an Angel and this is why you are our leader.