Self Improvement

Comparison and Judgment on Instagram

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An invite on a press trip to Iceland was an easy thing to say yes to, and as someone who had only left the country twice in her adult life, is something I did not take for granted. Shortly after things went into motion, I realized I’d be traveling with a group of people I didn’t know very well, so I did what anyone would do before spending time with someone new. I started doing a little “research” online. Via instagram.

And do you know what I learned about my travel mates aside from what they wear, where they brunch, or where they’ve traveled to?


It was all of this that inspired my recent instablog post where I dispelled a few things about my own account.

So let’s clear the air. I edit almost all of my photos in vsco and/or snapseed. Some, like this one, are shot with my Mark iii or Fuji x100t. I went to Europe (for the first time) in 2012, didn’t leave the country again until last month, and took my first vacation without a laptop last year. The opportunity to visit Iceland is one I don’t take for granted, and my travel schedule is far from typical right now. I have never made buddy cross his paws and couldn’t if I wanted to, but do ask him questions to get him to perk his ears up for photos. There were relationships I didn’t post about before Conor because they weren’t worth sharing and I dealt with a lot of family drama while I was in LA. I love my West Elm linen sheets and no, they weren’t gifted by the brand. I bought them. Most days consist of me answering email at my computer in workout clothes and yes, I definitely move (small) things around to get the right shot, and my apartment is actually as clean and organized as it looks 95% of the time. And no, I don’t spend all day cleaning. Lastly, it’s 4am in Iceland and I can’t sleep so tomorrow’s gonna be a long one. 

A little self doubt and comparison can bring you down, so remember that there’s more to everyone than what you see on Instagram. I promise to do my best to keep it real between the pretty posts but since I’m in Iceland, here’s another one of these beauties. 

And this got me thinking. When we follow someone online that we don’t actually know in person, we’re forced to make assumptions about who they are and what their lives must be like. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t done it a number of times. They have a dream job, an insane wardrobe, travel the world, and have and a perfect life. It is so important that we remember that instagram is where we post the pretty, fun, and sometimes curated moments of our lives. Take this morning’s post. I clearly don’t lay my clothes out on a faux sheepskin every time I get dressed but it looks pretty on instagram, doesn’t it?


Some people, like my friends Jess Lively and Jenna Kutcher, are very open with their followers, and I love them both for that. In the past few months, each shared personal life updates (a divorce and miscarriagebut they didn’t share those updates the second they happened, so there were days or weeks when no one knew what was going on.

There’s nothing wrong with only sharing the good, but for me, it’s the real posts that help others, and that’s something that is very important to me. They bring a little reality to these seemingly perfect moments and feeds. I’ll be the first to admit that mothers and fathers day posts always get me and make me feel like I’m the only person in the world who isn’t close with their parents, so sharing what I’ve gone through might help someone going through something similar. Back in my 20s when I was feeling lost and really struggling, I got through it by telling myself I’d figure everything out and one day, inspire someone with my story. I just didn’t know it would happen online

We see people’s feeds as a representation of who they are, and it’s important that we remember that instagram is just a peek–a glimpse–into what someone chooses to share with their followers. It’s where we share the pretty, fun, and sometimes memorable moments. Some real and others curated. I love neutrals and my little rescue dog, but there’s so much more to me, and to all of us, than that.

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  • Love this! I’ve been reading your blog and following your instagram for a long time and I love your style and eye for things! I really appreciate your honesty and I think it brings out the best of this world to connect heartfelt through the internet. I just wish I was brave enough to tell the wonderful bloggers I follow how much the openness and honesty really means and matters to me! Even in your most curated photos you push me to simplify my life, edit it down to the basics and remember that life is just as beautiful with out all the clutter and loudness. So, thank you for the beautiful post and for sharing yourself! It really matters to us, your readers. 🙂

  • I love this. I teach high school and I preach this all the time to my kids. As you can imagine, they are extra susceptible to getting wrapped up in images. Thanks for the honesty behind your photos – which, by the way, I still love to look at. 🙂

  • This is so refreshing. I have a habit of posting gorgeous dog and landscape photos ( I am fortunate to live in a National Park, Sleeping Bear Dunes in MI) on Ista. Truth be told I have stage 4 Breast Cancer- funny how looking back at my feed history you’d think I too, live a perfect idyllic existence. Most days I do, but damn every morning I pop those pills or travel to chemo every 3 weeks, I’m snapped back real and hard. Maybe it’s time to mix it up and include some signs of real life…you may have just given me that brave push to do the real and right thing.
    My oldest son and fiance live in Chicago and I love to follow your sights and sounds of life there. As an interior
    designer, your design posts- while perfectly propped and styled- are spot on. Lovely and honest post Danielle, thanks.

  • Hey Danielle! Great post…For what it’s worth, I mainly follow people on IG BECAUSE they post beautiful images. I see enough chaos in my day to day life and it’s uplifting to see a little square styled "just so". I’m surprised that you have to explain that you put some (to varying degrees) effort into styling a shot. I figured everyone knew that! You’re a creator-an artist. That’s what IG is all about :).

    (I’ve always heard that IG is for the pretty/perfect shot and Snapchat is for keeping it real LOL I’m not in Snap chat, so I wouldn’t know.)

    While I loved seeing the shot of your outfit the other day (which seemed more off the cuff), I still want the styled shots, too. (#housegoals #buddy!!)


  • This is such a great post! A friend of mine from college started a website where people tell the "full story" of what is behind the rosy, perfect instagrams they post. It’s called "cropped." You should check it out- I think you’d like the stories.

  • Loved this post! It’s so great to sometimes hear the honest truth behind the Insta snaps, since obviously we don’t have perfectly styled lives all the time. Sometimes you do things just for the photo and sometimes it’s a real moment (or a little bit tweaked real moment ;)).

    P.S. Have people actually asked you if you make Buddy cross his paws? I mean, how would you even do that. My dog also crosses her paws when she lies down, and I can’t even imagine trying to get her to do it.

  • Amen, sister! I am catching up on your blog and this stuck out at me! My life motto is to keep it real! The good, the bad, and the really ugly. We all go through stuff and we need to express it so others see that side of us too! Like you said, I do it to help people and I love it. I am so proud of you, my friend!

  • Virtual double high five! Judgement free zone with me…ALWAYS! I think it’s very impressive and applaud those, such as Jenna Kutcher, for really sharing every little second of their lives (I mean, come on, she snapchats wearing her face mask). It’s not that they’re doing it to ask for sympathy or to show us how much better their lives are, they are genuinely so happy to share their lives with people in hopes of inspiring them to be their best in any way, shape or form. But anyway, thanks for this post!