Booties, boobies, lips, curse words and passive-aggression.
And that’s just on a Monday morning.
Lately, I feel my Instagram feed is on fire and in a constant state of mooning, flashing and giving someone a verbal flip off. Between the bums, breasts, lips and legs (usually somewhere near a pool or beach), it seems as though everyone has a clear message for #haters and #InstaAnatamy should be the top trending tag. It would be less surprising if these were private posts from close friends, but many of those I follow either own or are working for major brands. I love to see so much body confidence and self-expression, but this raises an important question: is being authentic in the moment more important than staying true to your brand (and not risking your employer/clients taking issue?)
Now, before we go further, let me be clear; in spite of my boss’s statements to the contrary, I am no prude. I am the world’s biggest Madonna and Playboy fan, and I love body beautiful posts in branding (nude or clothed) as long as it has a purpose. @Stalt_Store, one of my favorite companies to follow, shows more T and A than Crazy Horse II. But there’s a big difference between well thought-out branding strategy for a company that has built its reputation one sultry, salty, artistic shot at a time and randomly (thoughtlessly) shocking the you-know-what out of your followers by flashing your backside after too many margaritas while on holiday in Mexico. One has a consistent message and a purpose with an audience who gets and appreciates the brand’s point-of-view. The other is often seen as a knee-jerk cry for attention in a foggy moment that can lead to a bit more than just embarrassment; it can lose you clients and even future jobs. (Note: even Madonna has gotten in hot water for over-posting what was seen as pointless provocation such as this shot).
So, why the sudden surge? Is it really that we are in a post-what-you-feel movement led by ballin’, semi-angry exhibitionists or is it something closer to online peer pressure? The access to smartphones in a culture that tends to reward extremism with celebrity is already a combustible combo, but add in the very concerning fact that a lack of self-worth can be briefly satiated by the passing approval of a stranger and it is no wonder that many are now sitting in a purgatory between posting compelling content with an interesting point-of-view, and competing for the most likes. As men and women, it is essential to live a life we feel most comfortable with, but as present and future business owners and professionals, we must remember that what is liked online may be frowned upon in real life; so it is important to think about how important it actually is to you. Without the money, sponsorships and support offered to major celebrities with millions of followers and hefty endorsement deals, your butt can find itself in hot water when a future client misreads your intentions. The bottom line: what is expected for Miley, Kim and Khloe isn’t necessarily the blueprint for those of us with jobs, lives and clients. Post what feels most right to you, but do think things through. Nude or not, shock-value posts that are off-brand may get you likes, but from a business standpoint, they can look flippant and sloppy. Worse, once on the internet, they are difficult to wipe from the web, even if you delete them.
What do you think? Am I being a prude? Do you think clients/employers care? Share your thoughts below!