Social Media and Empowerment: Lauren Tepfer

Gifted photographer and popular Instagram user Lauren Tepfer (@s.ilver) captures dreamy stills of people, places, and dreams. We discussed everything from social media's impact on our culture to her own vulnerabilities, as well as the turbulent ups and downs of a journey with self-love. Interview by Olivia Ferrucci.

Lithium Magazine: How has your relationship with yourself progressed over time?

Lauren: Over the past couple of years, I've been trying to become more comfortable with myself physically and emotionally. It's so tough to be nice to yourself 100% of the time- especially as an artist and a teenager. However, my relationship with myself has definitely progressed over time! I've become more comfortable with my feelings and have let myself open up more. I've also learned that it's okay and SO important to forgive myself on the daily.

Lithium Magazine: Your work is beautiful! Has the recognition for your photography affected your self-esteem whatsoever?

Lauren: Thank you so much! The recognition and praise I receive because of my work is so flattering and definitely super validating. It does make me feel good and really happy when I log on to Instagram and see all of the comments people leave for me. I think the praise I receive makes me confident in the fact that I can feel like what I'm producing is good, quality stuff. I feel like I have a really great support system of people all over who are there for me. I'm so lucky and grateful! Although, I don't really know if it is a true reflection of who I am. Sure, it's great to see how much people enjoy what I'm doing, that it's impacting them and making them happy. At the end of the day, my self-esteem is really based off of the way I perceive myself, which can totally suck sometimes because I'm not always the kindest to myself! I don't ever want to become that person who bases their entire persona off of what others say and think about them. Of course, most of what people say and think about me are nice things. Who I am is how I carry and express myself. Not what others think! I hope this doesn't sound terrible. I MEAN THIS WITH THE BEST INTENTIONS.

Lithium Magazine: You have a large audience, primarily consisting of teenagers. What would be your advice to them in improving their self-perception?

Lauren: Oh wow, this is a huge question! I think my advice to teens who want to improve their self-perception would be to not try and make yourself 'good' but instead, find the good that is already in you. Find something you really love about yourself and make the most of it!

Lithium Magazine: Have you ever had any vulnerable points in which you didn't feel comfortable with yourself? If so, who/what brought you out of it?

Lauren: Oh god, of course! I feel vulnerable and uncomfortable with myself at least ten times a day. I can't answer this saying that I did something magnificent that suddenly helped me become a PERFECT HUMAN BEING, because that's obviously unrealistic. I am definitely in a better place than I was, and I think I can really attribute all of these positive feelings and growth with my art and writing. Becoming more expressive through my work really helped me work through some really emotionally slow times!

Lithium Magazine: Have you fully achieved self-love?

Lauren: I wish! I am still in a very awkward and uncomfortable place with my physical self. It feels like I will be stuck here forever! It is encouraging to know that with age and experience comes understanding.

Lithium Magazine: Do you believe that social media negatively or positively affects its consumers' self-image as a whole?

Lauren: This is so tough to answer, because it can totally go either way! I think social media has both negatively and postively affected me and has the ability to do both to others as well. On a positive note, it's easy to connect with others who are struggling with similar things. Social media has definitely changed body image, too. Negitively, it's easy to become wrapped up with the ideas of social media, especially when we forget that what we see online isn't all that there is. This can lead to false images of others, and ourselves! ☾​

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