Instagram cleaning queen, Mrs Hinch and her loyal army of ‘Hinchers’ is the latest craze to sweep the nation, her page has gained over one million followers in the past few months. If you search #hinching on Instagram you’ll find an abundance of videos showing kitchens transforming from dirty to flirty, pictures of cupboards full of every cleaning product imaginable and slightly unsettling yet almost cute footage of grown women putting their “minkeh” and “pinkeh” cloths to bed each night.
Apart from the concerning amount of chemicals hinchers must be inhaling, I find it hard to imagine this trend being particularly harmful, although as demonstrated by her explosive growth it is undeniably addictive. Heck, I even found myself purchasing a bottle of pine scented toilet cleaner despite not owning a home. Shockingly, a survey by the Royal Society for Public health stated that: “Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol.” As expected, with most addictions the impact is usually not positive.
Scrub the surface hard enough and you’ll find a dirtier, darker side to Instagram. Search #ana” or “#self-harm” to reveal a disturbing world of pain and severe depression.
In a mental health survey by the RSPH on 16-24 year olds, Instagram was rated as having the most negative effect on mental health out of the 5 major social media platforms, behind; Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat.
#Ana is a forum for vulnerable young girls to share tips on how to starve themselves and post pictures of their protruding rib-cages and hip bones- documenting their weight loss “progress”. Promises center worryingly said: “Young girls tend to be particularly vulnerable when it comes to eating disorders. Experts say that something as simple as viewing other females with gaps in between their thighs might be enough to encourage the path of anorexia.”
On #selfharm you’ll find graphic images of scored forearms, blood spattered sinks and deep scars from years of cutting. For some self-harmers these sites are seen as competition and to cut is to compete.
One user explained “I feel when I see other people cut, it makes me feel that what I’m doing is okay. I’ve thought about trying to stop before but when I go back on the sites it makes me want do it again.”
When I asked if she was addicted to harming herself she replied: ”Yeah I’d say so, it’s now at a stage where if my scars are fading I feel like I’m not a good a cutter compared to everyone else I see. I feel trapped.”
Users feel if they were to leave Instagram they would no longer be part of a group, no longer belong to something, even if it is detrimental to their health. Instagram and social media as a whole is a huge part of most of our lives, especially young people. As a society we must try not to lose sight of reality and must be aware of the positive and negative impact Instagram has on our lives, whether that is to have the cleanest kitchen or the deepest cut.