By Clare Reynders, MEDIAGIRLS Editorial Volunteer
“Wait, what is finsta? Is that a new app?” We’re asked this a lot at parenting talks and workshops. With new social media trends cropping up nearly every day, it’s understandably hard to keep up with all of them. So let us explain…
One of the most popular trends for young people on Instagram is the concept of a “finsta,” something that can be a bit confusing, and especially important to understand when it comes to the self-esteem and online well-being of kids and teens. A finsta, or finstagram, refers to a fake Instagram. Most young people with an Instagram account usually have two: their “rinsta,” or real instagram, and their finsta. Real instagram accounts usually have many followers, might be public, and will show only carefully selected photos that showcase girls at their “best.”
So are finstas good or bad for young girls’ self esteem?
To answer this question, let’s take a closer look at how finstas are used. Claire G. (second on left in top row in pic below), age 13, from our youth advisory board explains, “I personally don’t have a finsta, but many of my close friends do. They mainly post spam, or funny pictures of them and their friends. Their rinsta is for the cute ones.”
Finstas are for private jokes and funny pictures that you want to put somewhere, but for a photo to be good enough for a rinsta, it has to be cute and cool-looking enough to get a lot of likes. Claire and Risa tell us that almost all of their friends have both a rinsta and a finsta, and the finsta has far fewer followers on purpose. It’s almost an unspoken requirement of having an Instagram that you have both types of accounts. They also tell us that people post far more often on their finstas, sometimes “spamming,” or posting many funny photos in a row, something that would never be socially acceptable on a rinsta.
Our youth advisory board members had the best reactions to this conundrum. Risa says, “people should be able to post the real them on their main account, and it’s sad to see people having a ‘fake self’ (rinsta) and ‘real self’ (finsta).” Similarly, Claire concludes, “The way you portray yourself in social media is important, and I think that finstas are sort of useless. I think that if you have a fun picture you should just post it. I find myself resenting these pretty girls on Instagram, and it’s horrible! I have to remind myself that what they’re showing isn’t their real life, and I can’t compare myself to it. I don’t think rinsta and finsta should be separate, I think your social media presence should reflect your real life.”
I agree with Risa and Claire; it seems like the very existence of a finsta implies that you can’t be yourself on your regular social media account. So which account is actually the fake one? Maybe it would be easier not to resent pretty girls on Instagram if they were posting double-chin selfies, too! If more people were their silly selves on social media instead of trying to put up a facade, it seems like we’d all be a whole lot happier.
Clare Reynders is a junior at Vassar College majoring in Media Studies with a minor in Women’s studies. She loves singing in her a cappella group, reading books, and, of course, empowering young women.