Some Penn students’ profile pictures on Facebook may look a bit less flattering — but that’s exactly the point.
Last week College sophomore Eve Bowers changed her own profile picture to “a really ridiculous” photo and encouraged others to do the same, hoping to spark a movement. After two student suicides on campus, she thinks the culture of social media isn’t constructive.
“Admit it — we’re only putting our best selves online,” Bowers wrote in the photo’s caption. “The truth is, NO ONE has their shit together all the time, even if it looks like they do from the outside. To anyone who has ever not felt smart enough, pretty enough, trendy enough or just plain good enough. You absolutely are.”
The Daily Pennsylvanian sat down with Bowers to find out more.
The Daily Pennsylvanian: Can you describe the Facebook movement that you started recently?
Eve Bowers: My parents have always been telling me that Facebook just causes depression. I never believed them or never fully understood what it meant, and I just searched for an article on it and read this [research article from the University of Michigan] that I’ve been posting along with the caption with my picture. I went ahead and deleted every single profile picture I’ve ever had because they all portrayed me in a positive light. I just deleted all of them just to get a point across and just uploaded this really ridiculous picture of myself just to show people that Facebook should not be a cesspool of perfection, and that’s sort of what it’s turned into and I just don’t agree with that. It only shows the positive light of people and it’s a highlight reel of people’s lives when in reality people are struggling with things all the time, but you would never know due to their Facebooks.
DP: What inspired you to advocate for this change?
EB: I myself have dealt with things in the past, and I really felt connected to the two deaths of Elvis and Madison, and I just would never ever want to see anyone else go the way they did at this school. I just felt that I really needed to do something, because I think a lot of people at this school and all over the world deal with depression, and a lot of people are kind of scared to come out with it because of the negative stigma that it has. I just really wanted to change the culture of what Facebook is.
DP: So you’re asking other people to change their profile pictures as well?
EB: Yes, I did. I posted a status that asked people to take part in this movement if they felt so led to do, and I asked them to change their pictures in honor of Elvis and Madison. And I’ve had a couple of Madison’s friends actually reach out to me through Facebook and say that she would’ve really loved this, and that makes me ecstatic.
DP: Do you think it has been effective?
EB: I think so far. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback. I’ve gotten people messaging me telling me that they vow to never ever hide a picture ever again, so I think that in itself is amazing. And I think that’s a really great step in the right direction, and I’ve been trying to spread this more. It’s reached other college campuses, it’s reached high schools… My whole sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, has really spread this and blown it totally out of the water, because I asked them all first over an email if they could help me change their pictures and spread the message, so without them this would’ve gone nowhere.
DP: What do you hope people gain or understand from this movement?
EB: I just want people to remember that as they scroll down their news feeds and see a beautiful picture with 400 likes, that that’s not the whole story. That there’s more to them than just their beautiful outside.
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