I spend a lot of time on campus wishing that I was anywhere else. Too much of this time ends up being spent on Instagram, where the world on my feed looks pinker, cutesier, and dreamier than how most people would see it. Instead of being an attempt to distort the truth about my life for likes, my Instagram feed has become a creative outlet for my own form of queer worldmaking.
Social media is an artificial view of reality, in which individuals post only the best of themselves (save for the less than flattering and nudes on “finstas” that I might show you later, if we get that close). Instagram is especially centered around sheer aesthetic value. Many of its users, including yeah, myself, care a great deal about their online appearances. When I initially began cultivating a “theme” for my Instagram feed, I sought to pink-wash Michigan via an obviously saturated, highly edited haze of filters. While it brought me slight satisfaction to see the collection of pictures that I had assembled together, I quickly grew bored of both the artificiality and superficiality involved within my process of picking my posts.
After trying out several themes from blacks to neutrals and anything but these — alongside the various different hair colors and styles that have come with each one —, I’ve returned to my favorite feed: pink, albeit more refined. Now I’m not so focused on changing what is already in each photo. Rather, I’m adding my touch to the things that I see. This theme feels the most authentic to me because it reflects the world that I wish to run away to, filled with cartoon cherry blossoms and cotton candy clouds and everything that I wish I could wave into physical existence with a Sailor Moon wand. It’s a fantasy and a sweet one at that, but a dream that I can bring to life on my phone.
I’ve never been gifted when it comes to illustration; however, I’ve discovered that I’m able to channel my aesthetic sensibility into a personal creative endeavor on Instagram. With acrylic fingernails as brushes and VSCO presets as acrylic paints, Instagram is my easel, rivalling the works of Claude Monét, or at least, Kylie Jenner. I can document my memories through a unique perspective, presenting who I am, as well as the things and people that I love to surround myself with (even if these people are the ones behind the camera… so far).
My feed doesn’t have to look like Ann Arbor or anywhere that I may be. Firstly, Ann Arbor just isn’t that cute. Secondly, it doesn’t make your feed artificial if you want it to reflect the way that you view life. Instagram is a safe space for me because I make it my space. As my feed grows, in all of its bubblegum-flavored bliss, I receive feedback from it; I become more aware of the life that I want to live in. You’re more than welcome to my world too. Just follow me on Instagram (@strawberrymilktease). ♡