There has been somewhat a debate over social media and how some women in the hiking community choose to present themselves. Of course, everyone will be familiar with the ‘here’s a mountain but really look at my bum selfie’. Or the ‘I’m topless on a mountain, this is so liberating’. Even the crop top has now become staple hiking attire. Just forget you didn’t look at the other pictures they posted, which shows they did wear a more appropriate top but took it off just for the photo. Because likes are more precious than gold.
Hey, people can do whatever the hell they want! I am not here to judge. I have probably posted the occasional picture like this myself. I am guilty of wearing makeup on hikes, and, of course, posing for selfies. I am a slave to the insurmountable pressure of being a woman, and worse, being a woman on social media. So maybe I am guilty of what I am about to say.
I would throw a caveat here to say that I am not criticising people who do this, but it would be part lie and part truth. So these are my own personal reasons why I choose to avoid posting these types of pictures.
1. Throughout the years of being this insecure person who hated how she looked, I looked for external validation everywhere, but it made me miserable. Then I realised, self-validation comes from within, not from men. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t give me a confidence boost seeing likes on a picture. But I also know it doesn’t or won’t change my opinion of myself. Only I can do that, and it’s dangerous to rely on external validation as a way of measuring how you look.
2. I don’t want young women believing their achievement will only be acknowledged by over sexualising themselves. A young woman climbs a mountain and posts a picture; she is really proud of herself. She gets 50 likes. A young woman climbs a mountain. She is dressed in tight leggings, a crop top, pouting, and she gets 500 likes. The first realises she won’t be recognised for her achievements, only her body. I can’t live in a world like that. I also don’t want to promote it.
3. The vicious circle. Girl 1 feels insecure. She realises she can get the validation she’s been looking for by over sexualising herself on social media. She then becomes the person girl two starts looking at, thinking, ‘I wish I looked like that’. Girl 1 has now become a part of the problem she wanted to avoid. Girl 2 follows the trend. The cycle continues.
4. Young girls/women are constantly viewing unrealistic images of women. Studies have shown that the increased use of social media amongst young people has led to a rise in depression, self-harm, anorexia and suicide. Mountains are often an escape. They don’t need to see that shit here too.
5. I’m tired of the pressure on women. Yes, women dress up and wear makeup to make themselves feel better. Hand up, guilty as charged. But is that really the reason?? I’m not sure it is. Everyone wants to feel beautiful, but the question is, why don’t you already? Is it because of the images you see on social media? Is it because you see men looking at the women who are dressed up? Is it because you want the world to only see the best of you. Let’s be honest…We wouldn’t have to feel like we wanted to dress up if it wasn’t for all these external factors piling against us. I am tired of it.
Right, this is turning into a rant, so I will end this here. In conclusion, it comes down to me wanting to be the right kind of role model for young women. I don’t want to add to the pressure they are already feeling. I don’t want them to feel they have to be what they believe to be ‘beautiful or skinny’ to be successful.
I’m no oil painting, but I’m sure if I started posting these kinds of pics, my followers would boom exponentially. My adventures are no different than my other female hiking counterparts. But I have to live somewhat in their shadow. I have spent my life not being the most popular person because you know what, I stay true to who I am. That’s all I can ask of myself.
If any young women in the hiking community do read this, know that your worth doesn’t come through likes. You may reach a smaller number of people, but they will respect you for who you really are. So love yourself for who you are, not for who you wish you could be, as chances are, it’s all a lie anyway!