Magnolia Journal

The former Fixer Upper star says even she has to put her phone down and stop scrolling

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January 30, 2019 01:52 PM

Even Joanna Gaines suffers from Instagram anxiety sometimes!

The former Fixer Upper star opens up about the pressure to make every moment of her life look perfect on social media, in the Spring 2019 issue of Magnolia Journal (published by Meredith, the parent company of PEOPLE).

As her HGTV show took off and her follower count began to rise, she says, “I could feel insecurity start to creep in, and posting a photo was no longer an act of enjoying the in-the-moments of life, but rather a more calculated decision.”

“With every picture I found myself critiquing if there were messy backgrounds or blurry smiles,” Gaines writes in a personal essay. “Eventually, I realized that I was letting this small square on my phone become yet another thing to perfect,” she adds.

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Gaines, who is mom to sons Crew, 7 months, Duke, 9, and Drake, 13, and daughters Emmie Kay, 8½, and Ella Rose, 12, admits she found herself beginning to pose her life — and her family — in a way that would create an “alternate reality,” by adding filters, better lighting, staging photos with props or dressing her kids in nicer outfits because it was what she saw other people doing on the platform.

“There is a certain, creepy allure to a place where we can present ourselves any way we choose with very little accountability,” Gaines writes. “But one could argue that the more versions of ourselves we present to the world, the less real any one of them can be.”

However, the designer doesn’t believe that Instagram is all bad. She admits that “beauty and inspiration” exist on social media, and plenty of people benefit from them, but she challenges people — herself included — to stop critiquing others and comparing their photos to their own lives.

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“I am inspired by the everyday beauty and encouragement that can come from seeing through other people’s vantage points. I am also, finally, mindful of when the red flags of comparison or anxiety begin to move in. They kindly remind me that something in my own heart or mind is a bit out of sorts.”

In these moments, she says, she will stop scrolling and put down her phone.

“Don’t get me wrong; I love to snap photos of my kids whenever it’s physically possible,” Gaines writes. “My camera roll is constantly full because of it, but when I hear myself start to say something like ‘move slightly to the left’ just so I can get the perfect angle, that’s when I know it’s time to check myself. That means putting my phone somewhere it won’t be a distraction.”

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“Perhaps I’ll post that photo in a few days when I have some distance from it and a fresh frame of mind,” she continues. “Or maybe I won’t. There are no true rules or set timeline. What I can’t get back to later is the beautifully imperfect view that’s unfolding right in front of me—no edits required.”

To read more, pick up the Spring 2019 issue of Magnolia Journal, on newsstands now.

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