I’ve spent a few posts this month talking about growing your Instagram community, but this post is a post that I’ve most wanted to write. The criticism that many bloggers and Instagram lovers fall into – that our pictures are all overly styled – has gained so much momentum, with many people turning away from Instagram. I agree that there are many bloggers who appear to style all of their photos, perhaps style much of their on-line persona to fit the personal brand they are trying to create for themselves. Instagram is such a visual space – it’s where I go for inspiration, to add a little more sparkle to my day. I want to see pictures that look good. A blurry photo is not going to cut it for me. Neither is a photo of you showing baby vomit on your top. It’s just not what I find inspiring. And I one hundred percent acknowledge that not everyone is going to be inspired by what I post.

Posted on Instagram: Nothing in particular happened, but it all seemed to happen at once. This afternoon, right now. I want to cry and run and give up. But I’m taking a deep breath and I’m going to run a bath with lots of Lush goodness

What irks me the most is when my photos get judged against someone else’s ‘normal’. For instance, my home is spotless for the most part. There are only three of us in it, the youngest being Miss 10 (who is old enough to keep her stuff organised, and who is in school for most of the day). I work from home, I can’t work in chaos, hence the photos of a tidy house that you see is because it is tidy. I don’t expect everyone’s home to look like mine – we all have different realities. So before we decide to cast judgement I think we should consider the fact that there are so many different realities and normals.

Posted on Instagram: Kitchen skincare essentials thanks to The Aromatherapy Company. I love the Therapy Kitchen hand wash and hand lotion (both with lemongrass, lime and bergamot) what do you use in the kitchen? (These are the only products we’ve ever used in the kitchen, they work, they last for ages and smell amazing. Lemon and lemongrass scents are my favourites and yes they’re stored in that basket on the counter all the time. And it’s not sponsored or gifted).

This is not to say that I don’t often wish I had a brand new home to set-up, or that I could get rid of the carpet in this rental of ours, or that we could start building our forever home NOW on that huge piece of land we bought in Fiji. I do but I’ve learnt to keep things in check. Fads don’t excite me as much, and I understand that every fad and trend isn’t for me (for my style, for my budget or my philosophy). Sometimes it takes a deep breath and a reminder that I do not need to constantly be shopping and buying things to be a blogger or Instagrammer. For those of you who know me, you know that I’m only purchasing an item a month and don’t you think even for a minute that it didn’t cross my mind what that goal would and could do to my blog and Instagram. Of course I considered it! I wouldn’t have new shoes every other week to blog about. And then I laughed at myself…because that’s all I could do. I had a good laugh, analysed the situation, sense prevailed and I stuck to my goals.

Posted on Instagram: So so sick and home alone. What are your sick day guilty pleasures? (I didn’t think it was necessary for people to see me blowing my nose. I was tired, irritable but I needed prettiness around me. I do silly things when I’m sick like wear my husbands knits and cry. That’s normal in my house.)

New designer shoes, business class boarding passes and cocktails all make great pictures but I could never and would never justify those expenses just for the sake of a bunch of photos that are consumed even quicker than I can gobble up a chocolate brownie! Now, to be honest, those three things factor a fair bit in my life (four things if you count the brownie). I couldn’t afford them just for photos, but I can afford them in that, they are things that I like and are my personal preference. They are things I can pay for by saving up and not putting things on a credit card (still saying no to debit here!) We want people to share their ‘real lives’ so if that’s part of my real life, does that make it wrong? When will we give up getting frustrated and annoyed for what someone else’s ‘real’ is? You might think it’s fake, superficial and materialistic but if that’s their preference, it’s their real. Un-follow them if it makes you unhappy.

Posted on Instagram: As you do… (Taken in Lae, Papua New Guinea. THIS is the type of thing that happens to me all the time, and it might look contrived to those who don’t know me, but really…this is me. And this photo was taken by someone else and given to me.)

I think we (including me) need to have enough self-confidence and smart to be able to look at pictures and remind ourselves that that’s all they are – pictures. I try to always share inspiring photos (or what I think are inspiring photos) even on ‘bad’ days. The caption on the photo often explains that it’s been tough but the photo more often than not is a ‘nice’ one. That’s my real, that’s how I choose to live my life and get through the tough times. That’s what my un-styled life is and looks like. All hell might be breaking loose but you can count that I will put a wonderful dinner on the table, which Miss 10 sets beautifully every day and alternates between cloth napkins and serviettes based on what she feels – not who’s coming to dinner. That doesn’t mean I don’t deal with the hell that’s breaking loose, I do, but I deal with the mess through talking. Taking a picture of Miss 10 giving me attitude, or of me crying with mascara down my face isn’t going to inspire anyone, it certainly isn’t going to inspire me. I make the conscious choice to share a picture of us in our happier times and open a discussion and conversation about the difficulty in parenting 10 year olds. That’s my normal. That’s my un-styled life.

What does your normal look like?
What does your un-styled life look like? 
You can find me (or not) on Instagram at alifeunstyled or here

6 comments on “My Un-Styled Life and Instagram”

  • Lisa says:

    I really like this post, I understand the sentiment and I truthfully feel like some instagrammers are purely for the 'likes' but if I feel that way I do and have unfollowed them.

    For me there needs to be that genuine connection, that I get from the image – I get so much inspiration from Instagram – I try to not over-think it x

    Ps Im am totally envious about your tidy home ha

  • Hi,
    Come and get free moving images for blog.
    Have a nice week.

  • This post hit the spot! And I love Instagram but I had let in people that are just for the 'like's too and other adds that aren't necessary for me. For me it's about being my authentic self as much as in person and online. Thanks for sharing this post and cheers from Bangkok!

  • Love it V! I also love love love your beautiful Instagram pics! Our house is also generally clean and although that doesn't feature on ig much, IRL people get surprised. Great post! And great points.

  • Gabrielle says:

    Interesting post with lots to think about

  • I totally agree. I like to think that my IG and my blog are positive places. What you see and read about is the truth…but it is generally a positive spin on the truth. My house is normally clean, I generally have some flowers about…I don't do things specifically for IG or for my blog but I do think about what I post and I prefer to post positive things!

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