“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.
Thank you @thejolurie for your incredible Youth Day initiative, #TheGramSham. I realise I’m a day late, but this isn’t something that needs to be time-stamped. I find this platform such a funny thing, because whilst it can be incredibly inclusive and helpful, it can be a painful and confusing place for many. I don’t need to share all of me here, and that’s my decision, but what you don’t see is me expressing at 2AM, pajamas drenched in breast milk, mascara still on because I didn’t have the energy to remove it when I collapsed into bed at 8pm. You won’t see me crying into my coffee, or telling you all how lonely I am because people vanish a few weeks after your baby is born. You won’t see my pigmentation, my stretch marks or my belly-button that now looks like someone’s nose. My surprising postpartum body and fitness comes with a sprinkling of incontinence: fun! Note to self, don’t ever sneeze again. This platform won’t explain to you that motherhood has been the hardest and most confusing thing I’ve ever done. Whilst we have the most amazing baby boy, I’ve never felt this low, this isolated and this terrified in all my life. I am petrified of dying, and I’m criticized for living. I’ve been mom-shamed by people I thought were friends and I’ve been bullied for the decisions I’m making as a mother. I felt like I was going to vomit the weeks before returning to work, and I still feel like I’ve lost my confidence. I feel like I’m failing at being a daughter, a wife, a sister and a friend. As I write this my Apple Watch is telling me my heart-rate is abnormally high for a rest period, because I am petrified of putting this out there. But there you have it. Take this place with a pinch of salt, kids. You’re enough.
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.
Imagine starting your weekend with over 30K in your bank account then waking up Monday morning with this bank balance? Here’s a little story I hope will inspire someone: About 5 or 6yrs ago I was one of the main anchors of the country’s biggest live teen variety show. At this time I was also main cast in a prime time weekly drama series that aired on the national broadcaster, the “makings of a teen idol” as my PR bio would read if I were Selena Gomez or Miley ?. My personal life seemed to flourish as well, I’d just purchased my 1st car, acquired a bond towards a loft apartment in one of JHB’s northern suburbs, well on my trajectory towards success. I made a few friends in showbizz whom I loved because they made me feel famous, like I’m some kind of big deal. I was deeply insecure and a people pleaser – yeah, strange right? Me? INSECURE?! One random afternoon a payment of over 30K came into my bank account from a random job, common practice in this here business, and the first thing I did was call up a few friends. Three of us linked up that weekend living the time of our lives with bottles of bubbly, clubs, hotels and strippers. Monday morning I had to report to set and as I swiped at the service station this was the notification text of my bank balance. I spent all day recalling what I’d spent all that money on, how I’m going to cover my bills and why the fuck was I so irresponsible? I later found out why: I wanted to fit into a realm and level I hadn’t reached yet, I let a bunch of hype words get to my head, I wanted to showcase a “lifestyle” on my gram, I wanted those friends to think I lived that way daily. It’s years later, I’ve kept this SMS as motivation to get up in the morning, as the reason I will work 3 jobs at a time, as a reminder to stay in my lane and walk at my pace because I will never have R22 left in my bank account trying to impress and be liked. This app is but a granule of our realities, shall I remind you that what glitters isn’t always gold. PS: I’m a lot older and wiser now, I still like nice things, I have a little more than R22 in my account for this weekend- don’t worry???♂️ #HappyYouthDay #Thegramsham
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.
#TheGramSham *deep breath* This picture was taken about 2 years ago at Live Amp. Bob and I had been invited to host an episode. It was a lot of fun. What you don’t see is the exhaustion and sadness. My marriage was over, my father had died. I was in therapy, on anti-depressants, barely sleeping and crying every single day. I hid it all very well except to those very close to me. Why are we so so scared to let people see the real us? To let people know that we’re struggling, that we’re not okay. Is it because we’ll be seen as weak or over sharing? “Why is she putting all her business out there?” Even now, I share this with trepidation because “what will people say” or will some media outlet use it as a story tomorrow? The pressure to present these perfect lives is insane. Don’t get me wrong: we all love to dress up and slay, and get those likes but that’s not real life. Not for me, not for you, not for anyone. Life is not 100% ups all the time. There are a lot of downs too. We need to allow ourselves those moments because in doing so, we share the full range of what makes us human. We invite someone who is struggling too, to say “I am not alone”. The #GloUp is great but there’s a down that has to come first before you can glow up. 50, 5000 or 500,000 followers and we can’t share what’s in our hearts because we’re scared to be judged or to lose brands, sponsorships, opportunities? I’ll take my chances. On this #YouthDay, I want young people to know it’s okay to not be okay. It takes time, effort, tears, work, self-care but you’ll get there ❤️ M. • Click on #TheGramSham for other posts. @thejolurie
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.