I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, ever since The Telegraph published this interview with her.
You might know that I religiously listen to The Tennis Podcast (11/10 recommend for any of my followers interested btw, even if you’re a more casual viewer it can help you catch up on the week’s big stories at recent tournaments etc) and just before Wimbledon, they had Charlie Eccleshare on for what I think was their Wimbledon preview episode, and then they started talking about that interview and all I wanted to do was write this blog post.
I’m using Genie as an example here but really it applies to every aspect of anyone’s life. You can’t judge someone based off of their Instagram, because someone’s Instagram will always be a feed curated to fit the narrative of themselves that they want to project into the world. Even if you think you don’t care about your Instagram or plan your posts the way an Instagrammer would, I’m pretty sure you aren’t posting every single photo in your camera roll ever, so everyone makes a choice about whether or not they’re gonna post a certain photo for whatever reason. I can’t believe people really sit here looking at someone’s Instagram and 1. thinking it’s a completely accurate representation of their lives and 2. judging them based off of it.
But then again, I can believe it. I get that it’s easy for young, impressionable people to fall into the devil of the trap that is comparison and see the Instagram of someone they think is cool or pretty or whatever and start feeling inadequate compared to that. I get that people who don’t use Instagram or social media the way someone like say myself does might not realise that it can take 100 pictures to get one good one to post, that you know your exact angles and poses and good lighting, that you actually look like your Instagram pics 0.1% of the time because you never dress up or wear makeup, that you’d never post a pic of you crying on/over the toilet during a hangover or food poisoning day. I get why a lot of people in tennis might see Genie’s ‘gram and think that it means she doesn’t take her tennis seriously or work hard, because I get that some of the tennis-watching audience probably thinks that if Genie is posting a photo of her looking cute on a beach, it means she spent all day at the beach taking pics and not one minute practicing her tennis. Not that she owes anyone that anyway.
I just hate the way a lot of people who follow or watch tennis will talk down on Genie just because she posts cute pics to her Insta. The thing is, everyone does it. Basically the whole WTA do. Serena hasn’t just made an Instagram account for her almost two year old daughter, she’s also made one for her daughter’s DOLL. Yet Genie is the one gal on the WTA tour known as an Instagram girl. Her profile boasts two million followers and, tennis aside, you could confuse her profile for that of a full time blogger because she has the selfies, outfit pics and bikini on the beach shots captioned with something funny or ironic that only an Instagrammer could come up with. But alongside all that she has a ton of tennis pics too, whether they’re professional shots of her on court or quick pics that a member of her team would’ve snapped during or after training. So why is it that people think she takes Instagram so seriously, and why is it that they think this means she isn’t dedicated to her tennis?
Is it because she’s a woman maybe? Compare Genie’s Insta page to that of three-time Slam champion and male Stan Wawrinka. I keep making jokes about how Stan is having the ultimate #hotgirlsummer because he broke up with his girlfriend around Spring and went on to post constant thirst trap pics on Instagram. Amongst the tennis pics are topless photos of him living his best life on holiday, equipped with the ultimate Insta prop of a fun floatie (Stan opted for a watermelon shape) and water guns in some pics. Is anyone accusing Stan of not focusing on his tennis because he’s too busy having a hot girl summer on the ‘gram? No.
Back to the Bouchard interview in question though. She re-iterates that social media is a highlights reel of the things she chooses to show everyone. When you spend a good chunk of your time on Instagram like I do, and utilise it in the way I do, you’d read that and be like yeah obvs?? Social media is a highlights reel?? We been knew?? So that’s why I was taken aback when I first heard the Tennis Podcast talking about this interview and their surprise at hearing Genie talk about Instagram in this way. I feel the same as she does, it is ridiculously absurd for anyone to think that she only does what she posts on social media. But then if you aren’t a millennial who cares about the way their Insta feed looks, you might be totally oblivious to the fact that people will be picking and choosing their best moments to make their social profiles their own personal highlights reel.
I actually wrote a post last year in which I talk about how social media is a highlights reel, but from more if a blogger perspective, but I am guilty of forgetting that just because I’m so hyper-aware that Instagram is going to be the glossy version of your life – not fake or staged at all but just choosing the best bits, a small percentage of your life to show – not everyone else will be.
Of course you don’t have to use Instagram in the ~influencer~ sense to make it your highlight reel and know that it’s what others are doing too. Only two of my friends are bloggers but all of my friends at one time or another (and mostly multiple times tbh) have gone out of their way to take photos specifically for their Instagram, with a specific setting or outfit or makeup chosen especially to take said photos. Then, you know the drill, we share these photos with our friends for approval of what is worth making the Instagram cut, and we probably chuck a filter or a preset or at the very least adjust some contrast and brightness, and then it’s posted.
How many people do you know who do the above? Genie is doing the same. As she said in the interview, people who work in offices don’t post about their offices every day, nor do they stay in those offices and work 24 7 baby 365 (if you know, you know x). If ‘normal’ people don’t post about their work and don’t work every single minute of every single day, why do lots of tennis fans jump to the conclusion that Genie isn’t dedicated to her tennis just because she posts some cute selfies and don’t constantly post about her job? Unless social media is your job, you probably use it to escape your job and have some down time on, and it’s probably the same for Genie.
Also, something I always think about the tennis tour is how they literally get to travel the world for their career which would be the most amazing Instagram content opportunity. Like, if I were a tennis player I would be taking aaaaaall the travel blogger photo ops I could in my downtime from whichever tournament I was playing at the time. I don’t blame any player who does that.
I get that Instagram can be a bit of a trap that some people, especially younger girls, can fall into where they may feel as though they need to rely on Instagram to get their validation, or they start comparing themselves to other people based off of their ‘gram feed and truly have no idea that X person does not look like their Instagram half the time, their life isn’t perfect and they aren’t doing these exciting things that they post about all day every single day of their lives. When I was younger, I knew that other girls’ Instagrams weren’t the way they looked and felt 24/7 but I let all of that logic fly out the window and just compared my low moments to their highlights anyway.
And now, I feel as though young women can be so judged for their Instagram profiles that all of us just have to collectively accept the judgement if we want to use our Instagrams in more of a proactive, blogger / influencer-y way.
Like, I know there are people who think that if you can maintain an Instagram like mine, you must love yourself and be super secure and confident in yourself all the time and think you’re the biggest stunnah xxxx ever. I know that people will look at my Instagram and instantly assume I’m shallow and superficial, and get my validation from getting likes on Instagram. Of course none of these things are true, but if these assumptions can be made about a random 20yo uni student who posts outfit photos every so often to her 1000 followers, they’ll be even worse for Genie.
For example, when I got my press accreditation for the Eastbourne Tennis the other month, I was terrified to go there because I thought nobody would take me seriously. I’m a barely 5’2 fake blonde gal with hair and eyelash extensions who walks around wearing Topshop and Pretty Little Thing outfits to post to my fashion Instagram, so I wondered how would anyone working in tennis take me seriously or think I was even smart enough to be a tennis journo? I am so used to seeing young women judged on their social media use that I just accept that it could happen to me, and worry about it before it’s even happened because it seems to be the norm.
Whenever I see a Genie Bouchard photo pop up on my Insta feed, I’m guaranteed to see that comment below it (usually from a white male, shock x) telling her that, maybe if she got off social media and stopped taking/posting photos of herself and actually focused on her tennis, maybe she could get her ranking back up / get wins / win X tournament. Why can’t she do both? Why do these dumb white men think that if Genie is posting photos of herself from a night out or a festival or on the beach, it means she hasn’t been working hard training for a tournament and practicing her tennis? She is allowed to do it all, and that’s exactly what she’s doing.
It just baffles me that other WTA players like Wozniacki, Svitolina, Osaka, even Genie’s fellow Canadian Bianca Andreescu will all post photos of them in a non-tennis setting, whether it’s a selfie or outfit pic or photoshoot pic or night out pic, and they aren’t inundated with the same demands to stop posting selfies and start winning matches. Why pick on Genie of all people?
Let’s all just remember this: social media is a highlights reel and it is not an accurate reflection of a person’s life. Just because someone is posting regularly and keeping up appearances on their Instagram, that doesn’t mean what you’re seeing is their whole life – they’re probably only showing you about 10% of their whole week. Just because someone posts pictures of themselves, it doesn’t mean their self worth relies on the responses to their Instagram photos. But with all those things considered, it doesn’t make them fake either because we all do it and we aren’t saying that our lives are always the exact same as our Instagram photos, you’re just making that assumption.
Now leave Genie Bouchard tf alone about her Instagram.