Victoria woman uses Instagram to overcome insecurities

July 30, 2012 at 2:30 a.m.
Updated July 31, 2012 at 2:31 a.m.

I'm not 16 anymore.

That's what Kim Pickens, 43, thought when she moved back to Victoria after 22 years in Houston.

After a confident life in Houston - becoming a wife, a mother of five and a professional - Pickens said she battled with insecurities when she moved back, faced with old peers and their old perceptions of who she was.

Little things, like wearing a flower in her hair or not putting on makeup for a trip to the grocery store, made her feel judged.

She got to where she didn't even want her picture taken.

"It captures something I wasn't prepared to look at - I'm not 16, I'm 43. I don't look the way I used to. I have matured," Pickens said.

Pickens decided in May that instead of deleting all the pictures people took with her in them, she would just take the pictures herself daily and then post them on Instagram.

The pictures go up whether she is wearing makeup (or not), having a good day (or not) or fixed her hair (or not).

She believes this cyber photo diary is boosting her confidence.

"It forces me to look at myself everyday and not to pretend to be someone I'm not, but to acknowledge that when I look at those pictures, I'm OK with who I am at that moment," Pickens said. "That is what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to be the best I can be, every day."

Sharon Whitley, a licensed clinical social worker at Dr. Uri Gonik, Ph.D. & Associates in Victoria, believes Pickens' Instagram therapy correlates to counseling she would do in her office, called flooding.

Flooding, Whitley explained, is used on stable patients who want to face a fear. For example, someone afraid of riding an elevator would ride an elevator multiple times a day to overcome that fear.

"I think it really does help them to grow as a person to say, 'This is me with all my flaws and I'm starting to accept that, and I would like you to accept it with me,'" Whitley said of Pickens' therapy. "That is a very strong, confident statement ... If you can feel that strongly about yourself, you are standing on very firm ground."

She would not, however, recommend the Instagram therapy to her patients because Internet bullies can be vicious.

Pickens agrees it is not for everyone.

"My husband would never do this," she said laughing. "I think he thinks it is a bit odd."

Despite the potential for bullies, however, Pickens is not the only one using Instagram as a form of therapy.

Diana Jenner, a woman Pickens follows on Twitter from Corvallis, Ore., started the self-portraits in May.

"I want a reason, many reasons perhaps, to love my aging self. I'm not 20 anymore and I don't look 20 anymore. I love my 40s," Jenner said. "I've quieted many voices, the 'not good enough' ones, by gazing upon my own self with the same eyes I see my loved ones."

Jenner has been doing the Instagram portraits since May also.

"I accidentally took a belly picture, I breathed deep and posted it," Jenner said. "That's as honest as I've ever been and it feels good."

Two other women Pickens follows on Twitter also practice the Instagram therapy.

Pickens believes it is really helping.

"I think I am getting to the point where I am not as self-conscious," Pickens said. "I can be myself more here, I can be a little more open."



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