The world of Instagram is a wondrous one. And as a newbie to it, having made the decision to ditch my life as a teacher and take up the life of a travel blogger, I can safely say I am astonished. Astonished and somewhat intimidated. With travel as my focus, I have been exposed to a world of exceptionally pert buttocks adorned in stylish and presumably expensive stark white swim suits. I assume expensive as we’ve all witnessed the unfortunate reality that most high street white swim suits will go entirely see through when wet. A world where all are exquisitely dressed, as though ready for the Reiss summer season catwalk. A world where the flawless golden tan is a must and the pale paupers among us have presumably been banished to wearing jumpers in colder-climes.
The dawning realisation, that I should have perhaps realised sooner, is that all these traits are seemingly synonymous with being a female travel blogger. This idealised notion of beauty (and dare I be so controversial as to say sexuality) is seemingly a factor in blogger appeal and popularity.
To be clear, that is not to say there isn’t a wealth of writing talent in amongst ‘the travel body beautiful’. There definitely is and their travel blogging in its purest sense is to be admired. But, I can’t help think that I have perhaps just tried to enter a world which has the highest concentration of utterly gorgeous, impeccably preened, exquisitely stylish women who seem to have mastered life and fabulousness in a way I never thought possible. And that, in truth, terrifies me.
As a teacher who has spent most of this year feeding off staffroom biscuits and stress eating chocolate as I mark essay after essay and as a woman with skin pale enough to burn on an overcast day on Newquay beach, am I supposed to reach these dizzying standards of feminine appeal? And dare I ask the controversial question that is ‘if I don’t manage the perfect pert bum and afford the most stylish white one piece, will I ever be as followed, as popular and as liked and those graceful, swan like, super-humans?
Here I find myself. 13 again. Akin to the girls I teach and the girls I desperately try to empower as they also fall victim to believing their lives should look just like their Instagram feed. So, I’m choosing to step out of the brain of my 13-year-old self-doubt, choosing to consider instead what the real unintimidated Helen would say to me. So, despite the voice in my head telling me to get my cellulite covered bum – and thighs for that matter – to the gym every day for the next two months and to eat only leaves and foods I can’t pronounce properly, I will be the me that believes we deserve and have deserved to see all shapes of women in beautiful surroundings, in far flung lands having wonderful adventures. The me that can only hope we will be deemed as much of a success as the ones who have managed it with the finesse, style and feminine charms I can only remain in awe of – but also the me that is strong enough to say ‘I don’t care’ because me this is me, this is my body and that’s okay. In fact, it’s better than okay: it’s Instagram-worthy.
So, expect to find me proudly rocking my cheap and cheerful high street bargain shorts or even revealing my Tesco (yes, Tesco) bikini on my biscuit fuelled bod, as I try to capture and share moments of real action and real joy.