I Deleted Insta for the First Time in 8 Years—5 Style Realizations That Stung

Welcome to “I Tried It” Week. From our editor in chief purging over 19 shoes from her closet to our assistant editor dressing exclusively in vintage, follow along this week as the Who What Wear editors take on personal wardrobe challenges and document the process along the way.

I would like to preface this by admitting that this whole story is honestly embarrassing for me to write. I first downloaded Instagram back in 2010 before everyone else was doing it (not a flex, just the truth). Back then, Instagram was so different. You didn’t really have “friends” to follow; you just had the small pool of other people who were posting artsy pictures that weren’t important enough to have taken with a real camera. At first, I did not understand what the app was for at all. I remember thinking, why would anyone post a photo here where no one will see it versus on Facebook where you can get validated by all your friends? My best friend had to explain the intention of 2010 Instagram to me, and she was the one who ultimately convinced me to get it.

Fast-forward to 2019, and I am now fully addicted to the app. Not to make snap judgments, but I feel comfortable saying most other people are too. Throw in the fact that I’m a fashion editor and a large portion of my job deals with the sartorial side of Instagram, and before you know it, I’m basically on the app all day every day. It was time for a break. Deleting the app was something I had been thinking about for a long time. I hated how much time I was spending on it, I hated how it was clearly affecting my mindset about outfits and experiences, and I really hated how it was affecting certain relationships in my life. Writing a story about my experience sans Instagram was just the excuse I needed to finally pull the plug.

I didn’t do a dramatic post telling everyone I was deleting it because I felt like that kind of defeated the purpose, relationally at least. I told my closest friends and my family so that they didn’t think I died or something, but besides that, I just simply deleted the app from my phone and went from there. So far, I have been without Instagram for a week straight. I used this past week to really reflect on how my day to day has changed without mindlessly scrolling on the app. Beyond spending significantly less time on my phone (which I have loved, by the way), not having Instagram has impacted my overall style choices in more ways than one—five, to be exact. Some of the realizations are more difficult to admit than others, but hey, I’m all for transparency these days.

Ahead, read all about the five style realizations I experienced when I deleted Instagram for the first time in nine years. Did I download the app immediately after my one-week stint was up? Duh. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t learn a lot along the way.

As I mentioned before, my job frequently involves taking photos of my outfits. I will admit this is actually my least favorite part of my job, but I do it anyway to either better inform stories or to support the brands I love. Because of this, getting dressed each day felt like a bit of a chore. It wasn’t until deleting Instagram that I realized I was choosing pieces I thought would look good in a photo over the pieces that I actually felt comfortable in. When I say comfortable, I don’t mean hoodies and leggings. I mean things that make me feel like the true me. That’s a hard thing to admit, especially since I pride myself on my confidence and not giving a crap about what people think about me, but I discovered this week that I care a lot more than I realized. 

Without the app, my outfit choice for the day was solely determined by my mood and the weather. Removing any pressure I was putting on myself to look some type of way for other people freed me up to be more in touch with what I was actually feeling. It was really nice. 

To piggyback off of the previous realization, that pressure I felt to have an Instagram-worthy outfit day in and day out resulted in me spending way too much time getting ready in the mornings. I am not a morning person as it is, so believe me when I say I need all the time I can get when it comes to prepping in the a.m. Ever since this Instagram break, I have found that my mornings are much more enjoyable, and that doesn’t just include the time I spend ideating outfits. Upon waking up, I don’t have this unnecessary urge to check Instagram right as my eyeballs are still opening. I don’t re-check the app before I put on my makeup or again before I walk out the door. If I’m being honest, I probably used to waste 15 to 20 minutes every morning dillydallying on Instagram. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather spend that time sleeping. 

I have a lot of stuff—like a lot. Not just because of what my job entails but also because I’ve always been a too-much-stuff kind of a girl. Clearly, I love Instagram, but the app is designed to give you FOMO—FOMO on experiences and products. I’m less of a FOMO freak when it comes to experiences (I’m honestly kind of a loner), but in the shopping realm, I definitely fear what will happen if I don’t own the newest Ganni cowboy boots. It’s a sickness. 

Once Instagram was gone, I didn’t have access to the latest and greatest as easily as I did before. Therefore, I found myself less disappointed with my closet and more excited by it. Instead of thinking of that one dress I wish I had to go with the sandals I wanted to wear, I was able to be appreciative of the pieces I already owned and get creative with the contents of my own wardrobe. Who woulda thought?

I really was. I would scroll through Instagram saving and liking photos up the wazoo ultimately with the intention to purchase in the very near future. It’s hard to not want to buy the newest By Far shoes when you open Instagram and see five of your favorite influencers styling them in the sickest ways. But I realized that I was letting Instagram dictate an embarrassing amount of my purchases. Did I really want those By Far shoes? Or had I just seen them so many times on my Instagram feed that I was somehow convinced to feel like buying them was absolutely necessary?

Yes, I’ve heard of willpower, but when you work in this industry, the line between need and want gets very blurred, and Instagram certainly doesn’t help. Without the app, I was able to take time on my own to scour some of my favorite shopping sites and find products worth purchasing all on my own, not because Instagram manipulated me into it. 

I absolutely love wearing new things, but contrary to most people (I would assume), I love wearing new things because I enjoy supporting my favorite brands, especially on Instagram. So yes, maybe I am stoked to wear my new Cinco anklets because they are chic as hell, but I also love wearing them because sharing the brand with my followers brings me just as much joy as the items themselves. Without that ability, I felt a tad less excited to don my latest purchases, but that didn’t mean I loved them any less. Does that make sense? 

In conclusion, I actually loved not having Instagram this week. It was challenging, but taking a break from it was something I realized I really needed. Moving forward, I plan on being more mindful with my intentions while scrolling on the app, but overall, I will admit that I am excited to download it once again tomorrow. See ya on the ‘gram! 

Next up, shop the eight biggest summer vacation trends.

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