Outdoor (Wo)men + Authenticity: A Conversation

Essena O'Neill declared, "social media is not real life." Darby Cisneros poked fun at #liveauthentic with Socality Barbie. And then Carolyn Highland asked outdoor women, "is this real life?" Some people agreed with and applauded their viewpoints. Others retaliated and called them jealous. I don't know the answer to the questions they're asking, but I do know that a conversation needs to happen. We're all entitled to our opinions – but let's share them in a way that's healthy and productive. In a way that helps the outdoor industry mature. In a way that helps us to do what we're all trying to do: inspire others to get outside and get after it.

In an era where millennials are trading office hours and overbearing bosses for the flexibility and freedom afforded by freelance work, the influence of social media has reached unprecedented proportions. Speaking particularly of the outdoor space, Instagram encourages adventure, fosters connection, and can even get you sponsored.

I love Instagram. I enjoy having a simplistic platform to share my photos and the stories behind them. I got giddy when Smith recently re-grammed one of my photos. Someone took it of me two seasons ago at Bridger. It was a Tuesday. There was fresh snow. I was with two of my best friends. I just skied one of the better runs of my life. I was stoked. That's why I posted it. Not because I was wearing a Smith helmet and Smith goggles.

But are there people out there who post pictures because they were wearing Smith goggles? If so, how do we encourage them (and their followers) to get outside for the love of it, and not just the "likes" of it? Essena, Darby, and Carolyn started the conversation, and I'd like to continue it. Where is it appropriate to draw the metaphorical line in the dirt that says 'this picture is staged and that's not okay.' How do we define that? Who defines it? Does it even matter?

How do we harness the power of Instagram (and other social media platforms) to inspire and empower men, women, and children to lead an active and healthy lifestyle – one void of misplaced negativity and judgement, one that encourages us to "unplug" on a regular basis, to live our lives less in a box and more in tune with our natural world. I'd like to know, what are your thoughts? Comment below or take this brief survey.