Most of us would be familiar with that cringe-inducing feeling of having a less-than-flattering photo of ourselves uploaded to social media by a well-meaning friend or relative.
When this happens, we might gently ask them to delete the photo, or at least un-tag us. We probably wouldn’t threaten legal action if it isn’t scrubbed from the Internet forever.
But most of us aren’t Khloé Kardashian, the millionaire socialite who this week had her lawyers working around the clock to remove a snap that was mistakenly uploaded to Instagram and rapidly shared across the Internet.
The photo – in which a bikini-clad Kardashian appears by a pool – certainly looks different from the others on her heavily curated Insta-feed. It’s mostly unedited, and isn’t airbrushed. Many fans saw it as refreshingly realistic (and beautiful!), and have been shocked by the intensity of her reaction (now dubbed #PoolPicGate on Twitter).
In a post defending her response, Kardashian shared her body image struggles and the “pressure to be perfect” she experiences. For this reason, she says she uses filters and editing to present herself the way she wants to be seen – and will continue to do so unapologetically.
This is part of Instagram’s appeal: it (usually) gives us control over how others see us. Losing that control is scary, because, as bestselling author and pastor Timothy Keller writes, “to be known and not loved is our greatest fear.”
But is maintaining a tight grip on control the solution? Probably not. In Keller’s view, to be loved but not really known only feeds further insecurity. True comfort, he says, is found in being fully known and truly loved, which is “a lot like being loved by God.”
In the Instagram age, maybe this kind of love and acceptance is what we really need.