Have you guys noticed how many hot gay dads there are on Instagram lately? Wait. That’s like asking if anti-vaxxers watch Fox News. Know your audience, dummy! Of course you’ve noticed. Whether they’re flipping houses, frolicking on the beach, flexing their glutes at the gym or choreographing ridiculously charming TikTok dances with their adorable kids, gay dad influencers are like the new White Lotus series on HBO—We. Can. Not. Look. Away. And why would we want to? These guys aren’t just totally ripped and impossibly handsome, they’re also hands-on doting dads who clearly adore their kids (I mean, what’s sexier than that?).
I’ve come across a lot of people who think these two-dad IG influencers are setting a bad example by creating unrealistic expectations of what fatherhood actually looks like. I don’t see it that way. I see the huge responsibility these hunky Insta-Dads carry on their super buff shoulders. In my opinion, they are doing our community a huge service by being so visible and open with their inspiring families, many of which represent the beautiful races, cultures and ethnicities that reflect our diverse and modern world. And the more followers they attract, the more people get to see how wonderfully normal our families are. Sure, their indulgent pool-side thirst trap pics get thousands of likes, but you know who else likes to follow them? That twelve year old gay kid growing up in Mississippi who may not otherwise be able to imagine a future where they’re able to be in a loving marriage and create a family of their own.
Here’s the thing, though—everything that’s good tends to have a not-so-good side, too. Just because you follow these picture-perfect gay dads on social media doesn’t mean it’s healthy for you (and by you, I mean me) to compare yourself to them. In fact, it can be very bad for your mental health. Studies show that the time we spend on social media feeds increases depression and envy and decreases our well-being. I have to keep reminding myself of this because I have an innate drive to constantly evaluate myself. I want to know how I stack up to other gay dads. So, I admit it—I compare myself to insta-dads. It’s human nature. It’s the way we’re conditioned. I mean, how else are we supposed to know if we’re good enough, smart enough, successful enough or... tan enough? I’m just kidding... ish. Truth is, it’s super common to compare ourselves to others. It’s part of self-identity and self-image. But that’s where this social media thing can get tricky.
It’s one thing to appreciate gay dad influencers for being positive role models and putting their families on display for the world to see, and it’s another for you to allow their pics to alter your own self esteem. That’s on you—not them! It’s so easy to become fixated on everyone else’s accomplishments that we forget to recognize all the things that we’ve accomplished ourselves. When we compare ourselves to others, we sometimes begin to feel unworthy and we stop seeing what makes us unique and special. This got me wondering… why are we so naturally inclined to compare ourselves to others? What I’ve realized for myself is that I look to others to try and form an opinion about myself.
Most of our comparisons are grounded in things we are self-conscious about. When I scroll through influencer IG pages, I tend to feel that I’m inferior because my clothes don’t look like theirs; my body doesn’t look like theirs, my house doesn’t look like theirs; and my family vacation pics certainly don’t look like theirs (when exactly did Mykonos become a thing?) But guess what folks, what those insta-families post on their social media channels is just one sliver of their full lives. It’s a filtered sense of their reality. We don’t see the imperfect parts, like when their toddler bites another kid on the playground (true story), or when their perfectly chiseled faces break out with acne, or when they’re feeding their screaming infant twins at 3 a.m. We don’t see their bank accounts; we don’t see their health issues; we don’t see their pre-photo-shopped selfies; we don’t see their struggles and their failures.
In other words, don’t compare your everyday life to someone else’s highlight reel! But I understand that that’s much easier said than done. So to help, here are six steps you can take to stop comparing yourself to others.
1) The unfollow button is there for a reason—don’t be afraid to use it
Do some Instagram accounts make you feel worse about yourself than others? I got the perfect solution... unfollow them. It’s that simple. Remember, it’s your phone. It’s your life. It’s up to you to stop looking at the accounts that fill you with doubt and self-loathing. If people make you feel inferior, stop looking at them. It’s not rocket science, people.
2) Follow the funny
Instead of feeling defeated and depleted when scrolling through picture-perfect influencer feeds, start following accounts that are more fun. My feed is full of kid fails, stupid cat videos and the always hilarious Gary Janetti posts (you’ll thank my later). It’s true what they say, humor is the best medicine (well, after Pepto Bismol—that shit is the bomb). Here are a few laugh-out-loud accounts to get you started:
- @cashcats or @trotterpup
3) Accept the fact that there will always be someone better than you at something… and that’s okay
Sorry for the sobering truth here. But it’s important to remember that no one can excel at everything (I’m talking to you, Beyonce). The sooner you accept this, the less pressure you’ll feel. So let those two dad IG influencers do their thing while you focus on all the things you excel at… like being a freaking amazing father.
4) Only compare yourself to yourself.
If you must compare yourself to someone, start with the man in the mirror (Shamone!). Because the only person who it is fair to compare yourself to is you. If you’re working on your fitness game, go ahead and compare your new pics from six months ago and celebrate those gains. It’s so much better to strive for a better version of yourself rather than trying to keep up with the hot gay Jones’.
5) Get to the root of those negative comparisons.
If you’re like me, you want to know where the need to compare yourself to others stems from. So why not explore that by doing some serious soul-searching, self-reflection or therapy. While it may not be fun to work through difficult feelings, you might be able to learn something important about yourself. As a training therapist myself, I’ve learned that unpleasant comparisons can serve a positive purpose in that they inform us of an area of our lives that may benefit from improvement. What would you like to improve about yourself?
6) Replace envy with action.
Envious of those dudes’ kitchen backsplashes? Jealous of that Insta-family’s Provincetown getaway? Instead of comparing your life to theirs, use their IG pics and vids as inspiration for your next remodel or family vacation. Think of their account as a vision board for all the things you could work toward having for yourself… except for their pecs—that most likely ain’t gonna happen.
So if you’re anything like me, and compare your life to others on social media, feeling like you’re coming up short, try out some of these tips on how to break the vicious cycle so you can get back to focusing on what matters most—your own happiness. And don’t forget, other people’s outsides can’t even begin to compare to what you’ve got going on on the inside.