“This Is The Real Reason I Started The #GramSham Movement”
As a 40 year old woman who has had success in my career and has achieved much of what I’ve wanted to in life, even I scroll through Instagram and sometimes feel like a total failure because my life feels dull and messy in comparison to many others. I feel like I don’t measure up compared to others, especially celebrities who appear to be living their best lives, even though, after 15 years of working in the TV industry, I know very well that those pictures are just a snapshot and don’t reflect the whole picture of their real lives.
So, my concern was, if I was feeling this way, how much worse are our youth feeling? If they believe these pictures are a real reflection of what their lives are meant to look like, how badly do they feel like they’re failing? Research shows that there’s been a marked increase in depression and suicide linked people’s feelings of inadequacy due to Instagram. How tragic? People feel inadequate because they’re not measuring up to fake dreams they’re being sold? That’s how #TheGramSham came about.
I wanted us to stop the dream selling and promote truth telling, so that we could give our youth a true picture of what our lives look like. If they’re going to aspire to be like their role models, they must know what it is that they’re really signing up for. I wanted #TheGramSham to expose the truth behind the filters.
#TheGramSham posts totally exceeded my expectations. It became so much more than I could have hoped for. People were so generous with their truth and allowed themselves to be so vulnerable. I don’t think I expected that level of raw honesty.
The thing that I loved watching was strangers reaching out to each other. Our truth didn’t necessarily set everyone free, but it did connect us to one another. Our universal truth which connected everyone was that we’re all struggling with something. We all feel like we’re failing in some way. It was beautiful to watch people come to that realisation and instantly feel less alone.
Each one of the #GramSham stories really touched me, but one in particular had a profound effect on me. Melanie Bala posted a gorgeous picture of herself taken the night she came to guest present Live Amp. She speaks about the sadness hiding behind the picture perfect smile. The reason this really touched me is that I used to work on this TV show and I was in studio with Mel the night that photo was taken and I had absolutely no idea anything was wrong. She was doing such a good job of hiding her pain. We never stop to consider what people are going through in their lives. We take everything at face value. From the outside, Mel’s life looked perfect. Meanwhile, her insides felt like a mess. Her post was an incredibly important lesson for me.
What started as a Youth Day initiative, is clearly a much bigger conversation and needs to carry on. For now, this is definitely continuing until the end of June. I hope it will carry on beyond then. I have some ideas around how we can elevate the conversation, which I will share as I find ways to make them happen.