Guest Post: “Social Media: Approach With Caution” by Laura Langston

“Between The Lines” is a sporadic feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which authors and other industry professionals provide further insight into the writing and publishing process, whether it be in the form of interviews, guest posts, etc. So, sit back, relax, and enjoy as we read between the lines.

Hi everyone! Today I’m very excited to welcome author Laura Langston to Pop! Goes The Reader! I was lucky enough to have been invited by Penguin Canada to participate in the blog tour for Laura’s latest release, The Art Of Getting Stared At and, having really enjoyed the novel, I was more than happy to do so. Be sure to come back tomorrow when I’ll be sharing my four star review of this quiet, introspective contemporary that focuses on issues of body image, confidence and identity that are extremely relevant to the youth of today.

As participants in this tour, each blogger was asked to answer the following question: “What’s one thing you wish you could tell your teen self about body image and/or confidence?” My advice would be simple: Be kinder to yourself. As a teenager, my constant desire for perfection became inextricably linked with my perception of both myself and my body. As a result, I spent much of my teenage years in a constant cloud of insecurity, self-consciousness, and self-hatred that manifested itself most prominently in issues with disordered eating. It was not unusual for me to go days or even weeks with little more than an apple and a single package of oatmeal to eat all day. The less I ate, the better I felt. Psychologically, anyway. Looking back, I can see that my issues with food and my body were symptomatic of a larger problem. I was uncomfortable with who I was, and no amount of weight loss was going to remedy that. I wish I could have shown myself the same love and acceptance I always strove to show others and have had the insight to realize that it was never truly about the circumference of my wrists or what size jeans I was able to slip into. Body acceptance is a lifelong issue that most, myself included, will struggle with at one point in their lives. Thankfully, with novels like Laura Langston’s The Art Of Getting Stared At to guide us, we don’t have to confront these issues alone. Visibility, critical thinking and open discussion are all important tools we can use to combat and silence those ever-present voices of self-doubt and self-hatred from which no-one is immune. So today, be kinder to yourself. You deserve it. You are beautiful just as you are.

About Laura Langston

By the time she hit grade four, Laura Langston knew she wanted to be a writer. So did the teachers. It was the persistent daydreaming and invisible friends that tipped them off. Since Laura grew up knowing no writers – and consequently didn’t know how to be one – she became a journalist instead. The trouble is, journalists are expected to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

But making stuff up is way more fun. So eventually Laura traded one notebook for another and today she writes books for tweens, teens, children and sometimes adults.

When she’s not writing, reading or walking her Shetland sheepdogs, Laura can be found spying on people in the grocery store or twisting herself into a pretzel in yoga class. Langston lives in Victoria, British Columbia with her family.

Author Links: WebsiteFacebookTwitterPinterestGoodreads

Question: How do you think social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) affects how teenage girls view themselves?

I think it depends, to a large extent, on the individual teen – how aware and objective she is, if she’s a critical thinker and how she uses and interacts with social media. Used wisely, social media enhances communication, provides a way of keeping in touch with friends (whether you’re doing a group project at school or your friend has moved away) and helps us connect with people who have similar interests or concerns. It can be a catalyst for creativity and for change too. There’s even an award now – the Shorty Award – for the best in social media, and there’s a teen category. This year’s winner was 16 year old Gabby Frost who won for The Buddy Project. That’s just a single example (and there are many others) of how social media can make teen girls feel empowered, which, in turn, makes them feel better about themselves.

The downside of social media (cyber bullying, clique-forming, the online cultivation of sexuality) has been widely reported in the last few years too. There’s a very real danger of using social media to the exclusion of physical interaction which can lead to serious depression. Another concern that hasn’t been talked about enough, I don’t think, is how social media presents a distorted view of life. I’m generalizing, but in many cases posts on Facebook and MySpace and Instagram represent the highlight reel of our lives. We generally see pictures or status updates of wonderful, over-the-top events, achievements or relationships. Along with that, I’ve read numerous accounts recently of women and girls uploading pictures to Facebook and Instagram only after they’ve been photo shopped. So if you go on a social media site and notice that you don’t have as many friends as everyone else, for instance, or see that everybody else has gone somewhere cool for spring break, and at the same time their pictures are gorgeous and they look absolutely perfect, you can start to feel like you don’t measure up. After seeing three or four posts like that, you feel like slug bait. And that’s a lousy way to feel.

Because of this, I think education and discussion is needed to empower teens – all of us, in fact – to be aware, objective and highly selective when we use social media.

Title The Art Of Getting Stared At
Author Laura Langston
Pages 288 Pages
Genre Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Publisher Razorbill
To Be Published September 9th, 2014
Find It On Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Sloane is given the biggest opportunity of her life – a chance for a film school scholarship – but she only has less than two weeks to produce a video. She also has to work with Isaac Alexander, an irresponsible charmer with whom she shares an uneasy history.

Then comes a horrifying discovery: Sloane finds a bald spot on her head. The pink patch, no bigger than a quarter, shouldn’t be there. Neither should the bald spots that follow. Horror gives way to devastation when Sloane is diagnosed with alopecia areata. The autoimmune disease has no cause, no cure and no definitive outcome. The spots might grow over tomorrow or they might be there for life. She could become completely bald. No one knows.

Determined to produce her video and keep her condition secret, Sloane finds herself turning into the kind of person she has always mocked: someone obsessed with their looks. She’s also forced to confront a painful truth: she is as judgmental as anyone else…but she saves the harshest judgments for herself.

One response to “Guest Post: “Social Media: Approach With Caution” by Laura Langston”

  1. Thanks for hosting me, Jen!

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