The other day, I was sitting at my kitchen counter, working on my laptop (read: Facebooking), and eating peanut butter toast. Considering my track record, I deserve a medal of bravery for eating or drinking anything within feet of my laptop. However, I am a humble individual, so I enjoyed my snack inches from my screen without any of the pomp it deserved. And then, something incredible happened.
I dropped my toast. And like the Twilight vampire I am not, I then slapped the falling toast with my free hand, mere milliseconds before it landed butter-side-down on my keyboard. The adrenaline rush that immediately followed as I admired my peanut butter free computer is probably what people feel when they lift an overturned car off of their loved one. My computer was so free of warm, melty peanut butter, it could have been living with a nut allergy.
My euphoria gave way to curiosity. Where had the toast gone? I scanned the counter. I scanned the floor. I considered, briefly, that my sporadic gift of lightning speed was coupled with superhuman strength, and that perhaps, the toast was in the living room. Then I found the toast. Butter-side-down, on the front of my shirt.
I still considered it a victory. Wars won still beget fallen soldiers. And this bittersweet balance is real life.
Real Simple Magazine, being among many who recognize a lack of “authenticity” on social media, recently launched an Instagram account called WomenIRL, with the aim of liberating women from the need, the pressure, the compulsion in some cases, to try to appear “perfect” on Instagram. I thought it was a great idea. A lot of people did. The account boasts almost 60,000 followers, has gained momentum on Twitter through Real Simple’s feed, and even birthed a celebrity-peppered panel at this year’s SXSW.
It’s been a few months, and as I scroll through the WomenIRL Instagram feed, I decide that it could very well be called WomenBreakShit. Photo after photo of overflowing blenders, broken coffee mugs, ripped clothing, burnt cookies, and spilled milk. Peppered in are toddlers in various states of emotional meltdown. Where are the wins? For every dozen Pinterest fail cupcakes, there’s bound to be a Pinterest hero, right? I understand that the wins have space all over Instagram to be boasted, but shouldn’t a movement called #WomenIRL be more than a catalogue of all the shitty things that make you late for work in the morning? Womanhood is not Earlybird-filtered perfection, but it’s not just a comedy of errors either.
Personally, I think Instagram is an okay place for a woman to feel good about herself. My feed is not cultivated to give people the impression that my life is perfect, but it is a place where I can put my best foot forward. If I have a good hair day, I log it. If I have a funny observation, I log it. I don’t really worry about it being an entirely realistic representation of my life, because there’s no way I could have captured the Peanut Butter Toast Incident in one photo. Not the epic emotional roller coaster of it all, anyway. No one would have looked at peanut butter all over my shirt and thought to themselves, “She feels like a champion.” But that’s how I felt. Anyone that wants to see a more “authentic” me, one that doesn’t care about the consequences of putting unfiltered, unpretty photos on Facebook, can hop in a time machine and check out my 2007 Facebook feed, where I never would have been hired for a job.
The evening of the Peanut Butter Toast Incident, I found a spider crawling between my headboard and the pillows on my bed. I never caught it. That night I slept curled up at the other end of my bed like a puppy. But I did not give up and sleep on the couch. Win. #WomenIRL