The problems with perception on social media: A reaction to Dawn O'Porter's 'So Lucky'
Updated: Aug 24, 2020
I’ve just finished Dawn O’Porter’s So Lucky, and it got me thinking about the concept of perception and social media. Here is my reaction to the novel (no spoilers included) as well as an interview with Natasha Ghouri, a young model and dancer based in London, about what struggles she faces with perception.
Dawn O’Porter covers so many important themes with this novel, and I cannot recommend it enough to women of all ages. The overall point she makes is that you cannot judge someone from what you see externally, whether that is through knowing them personally, or seeing them on social media – someone may look ‘So Lucky’ – but this could all be a front.
In an age of social media, this is an important read, and despite the bright pink donut on the front bringing feminine connotations, I would say that men can relate to this too. It shows how society presents women, and the pressures they feel as a result.
O’Porter has three leading ladies: Beth, Ruby, and Lauren. Now I’m not going to give away the plot here, but the topics covered include mum guilt, post-baby-body, weight and eating disorders, and the mystical world of Instagram filters.
At first, I found this book quite depressing in the presentation of motherhood, and the general struggles that women go through. Being in my early twenties, I have all this to come, but I promise you need to stick with it! The points made, and the journey that each character goes on are really important, and something that left my feeling refreshed and positive. Saying this, it is far from a happy-clappy ending, the whole piece was very realistic and raw, and caused me to well up at times, which is very unlike me.
Their strengths, weaknesses, insecurities, regrets, and most importantly – their determination, is something that we all need to aim for.
It triggered me to think about perception and expectations – what the world sees and judges you for. There is so many pressures out there, and something I am already feeling, despite only being 22. There is a massive juggle between career, relationships, children, travel…the list goes on! Somehow, you’re expected to achieve everything in a very conventional timeline and show this off on social media for other people to see in return for likes.
One person that knows all about this is Natasha Ghouri, 22-year-old model and dancer in London. The nature of her job means that how she presents herself is how people judge her – whether that is for a job or not.
She touched on how filters create an unrealistic image that people strive towards, something we see a lot of in the book due to the nature of Lauren’s lifestyle, and Ruby’s job.
“I think social media has created a damaging environment due to pictures being physically edited by changing body shape or smoothing stretch, cellulite marks – it becomes unrealistic. It affects girls’ mental health as what they strive for is fake perfection.”
So Lucky really shines a light on the poison caused by this editing, for the women being edited, as well as the women viewing the images. However, by writing a book on this topic, O’Porter is normalising the conversation around this issue, something Natasha is really happy about: “As the moment a lot of women are really opening up and normalising women’s bodies which is just amazing to see as that’s how it should be!”
Personally, Natasha has had to deal with this idea of ‘perfection’ head-on: “I’ve had my ups and downs. I did go through a phase where I was constantly scrolling and looking at these influencers. It did get toxic in my mind, I started to do posts similar to them and then I realised that’s not me, that’s not who I really am, I don’t want to be editing and changing the way I look. Eventually you have to train your mind to realise that social media is not real. It takes time but once you get over that hill, you just fly and become your own identity.”
One element of trickery that comes from what you see on social media is the pose that you’re in, and how the time of day and lighting can make a really big different in terms of how your body looks in a photograph.
If you take a photo first thing in the morning, breathing in and in a flattering position, you’re going to look much slimmer than if you took the same photo after breakfast where you could be bloated, with different lighting and position. This was something that Natasha exposed on her Instagram account recently, highlighting that what you see is all an illusion.
“I did a few videos showing posing and relaxed posing which shows my real body with rolls, stretch marks etc, that really did send a strong message. When I take my photos, I don’t really think about perfection, I think more about what am I sharing to others and that it will help my career and future in what I want to do!”
Natasha’s Instagram: @tashaghouri
A previous piece I did about my experience with body image, growing up very underweight: https://www.indialilyblogs.com/post/the-body-image-battle