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There's A Lot Of Fake News About Real Women In The Age Of Social Media

Purporting to be natural, real and flawed, when the face you present to the public is worthy of a spot in the Louvre is a slap in the face to many women.

02/08/2017 1:57 PM AEST | Updated 02/08/2017 1:57 PM AEST
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"It's not the flaws that make you real, it's the fact that you are willing to be authentic with your audience."

I was flicking through Instagram while waiting around, as you do, bouncing around accounts watching random cat videos, nail polish application and shots of food. And I landed on the account of a prominent 'slashie' -- you know, blogger/model/lifestyle guru/influencer -- I scrolled down and thought her dress was nice but those sunglasses would look terrible on me.

One post really got to me, though. It was a picture of a genetically-gifted human, hiding behind her perfectly-coiffed hair, the caption was something along the lines of: 'Everyone has days when they have pimples or puffy eyes, that's what makes a real woman'.

There was not a single blemish, nor eye bags. There was absolutely nothing that would make you think that this woman had any kind of physical flaw whatsoever.

I read a story the same day about how A-list star Drew Barrymore showed everyone her 'realness' by posting a picture of herself with no make-up, flawed skin and eyebrows that she admitted 'needed some loving'. Again, Barrymore was lauded for her commitment to being 'real'.

These are two very different posts. One is completely taking the mickey by alluding to the fact that she has flaws, too, you just can't see them behind her hair, lighting and retouching (if it was used). The second is a woman who makes more money than a small country, and can afford the best treatments that money can buy, but has chosen to show her vulnerable side, warts and all.

What we're not chasing here is an actual real woman. Behind the lighting, glossy hair and flawless skin, everyone is a real woman.

We seem to have done a bit of an about-face when it comes to social media. Once the most popular posts were those of flawless creatures in the latest fashions, with links to the clothes so that you could buy them and emulate your favourite influencer. Now, the posts we crave echo the 'Celebrities without Make-up' stories in glossy magazines. We want so-called 'real women'. And, every social media darling worth her weight in 'likes', is jumping on the 'real' bandwagon.

Here's the problem with the self-proclaimed 'real woman' on social media. First of all, purporting to be natural, real and flawed, when the face you present to the public is worthy of a spot in the Louvre, is a slap in the face to many women. Social media use has been associated with impairing self-confidence and even inducing anxiety or depression, especially in women.

What we're not chasing here is an actual real woman. Behind the lighting, glossy hair and flawless skin, everyone is a real woman.

It's the use of the term 'real' that upsets me. Even on my best days, I don't look like the beautiful people pretending to be ugly ducklings. Most of us don't. But, by labelling themselves 'real' it completely changes the perceptions we have regarding what a woman should look like. And, it slowly eats away at the confidence that a lot of women struggle to cultivate in a society that is hard on the way we all look.

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Realness is not what we need. We need authenticity.

If you want to post a photo of you looking miserable without make-up and a dirty great pimple on your nose, do it. If you want to show your tummy snuggling over the top of your jeans, go for it. And, if you want to post a picture of you looking absolutely smoking, airbrushing out those lines around your eyes or the dimples on your bum, then do that too. But, don't bullshit people.

Be honest and authentic about who you are. It's the proclaimations of, 'Hey guys, I'm a real mutt, just like all of you feel like occasionally', when that is clearly not the case, that I believe are more damaging than all of the Photoshop on Instagram. It's not the flaws that make you real, it's the fact that you are willing to be authentic with your audience.

Authentic women have jobs, and babies, and diaper bags that are overflowing. They're women who work long hours and then come home to make dinner for their families. They're living in poverty or even worse, in fear. They're from every different walk of life and sometimes, the last thing that they give a damn about is a pimple.

Authentic women are more likely to be role models, they're trying to make life better not just more beautiful.

I think our flaws are just as important as our beauty, whether we choose to share them or not.

Social media can be good, and it can be bad, depending on how you use it as a consumer or contributor. As we flick through glamorous pictures, we should keep in mind that we are seeing a polished end product.

It's up to all of us who use it to contribute to the authenticity that our lives desperately crave. Stop showing me how 'real' you are. We're all real, every single last one of us. Show me how flawed, honest, insightful and authentic you are. I'd buy every pair of sunglasses on your page for that.

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