By Katie Barragry
Scrolling on Instagram can be lethal. A single photo can completely change your mood. Be it a mirror selfie of an influencer with “the perfect body” or even a picture of someone’s makeup for a night out, these photos can cause us to question our own looks, our own bodies and how we perceive ourselves; both online and in real life. Thoughts begin to race through our minds; Why isn’t my body as toned as hers? Why isn’t my hair as sleek as hers is? Why aren’t my lips as full? Why don’t I look like that?
This unrealistic perception of beauty persists as a serious issue on social media platforms every single day. But what is the root of the problem? I genuinely believe that the bottom line is that the online beauty community is fake. False, unrealistic and detrimental. Platforms such as Instagram and VSCO lack authenticity and only showcase the seemingly perfect aspects of people’s lives. Believe it or not, very few people are blessed with naturally brilliant white teeth. Likewise, there are only a lucky few that escape the odd spot or blemish. The online beauty realm is becoming a breeding ground for Botox, lip fillers and eyelash extensions. We live in a world of fake tan, fake eyelashes and caked-on makeup. Unfortunately, these aspects of “beauty” have become the norm.
Of course, we want to be the best versions of ourselves online. We are only showing people what we want to share. We filter our lives on social media. It makes sense not to broadcast our “unflattering” angles. However, what’s wrong with having stretch marks? Or acne scarring? Or frizzy hair? These aspects are natural. Social media users have subconsciously convinced us only to post faultless content. We want to look attractive and appealing. We want an aesthetic social feed. Have you ever seen a group of women (or men) at pre-drinks? You cannot count the number of photos taken before they are somewhat satisfied. It goes without saying that we are not going to post a picture where our arm might look a bit chubby or our lipstick has smudged, are we? Photo editing apps have allowed the public, as well as beauty gurus, to edit their photos to perfection. We can remove a blemish or whiten our teeth instantly. We obviously don’t look like this in real life, so why are we lying to ourselves? We want to look flawless because this is what we see online day in, day out.
With thousands of influencers and beauty gurus online, we begin to make comparisons. Many of us begin to feel ashamed if we aren’t a perfect size 8 or smaller. We feel guilty for having that bar of chocolate after seeing a slim model with perfect abs. We lament our own makeup skills and abilities. The online beauty world can be toxic, and it is only growing more with teeth whitening kits, eyelash extensions and fake nails. Not only does seeing these posts every day affect your mood, but it can also damage your feelings of body confidence and self-esteem. Believe it or not, everyone cannot have elite bone structure, a tiny waist or long, voluminous eyelashes. Naturally, that is. With new products being developed every day, we can change virtually anything about our appearance. I think it’s time we started accepting our imperfections. These imperfections make us human, and not ugly or undesirable. Why are we allowing influencers online to define beauty and why is this definition based on falseness? Who has the energy to constantly maintain a decent fake tan? Likewise, who has the time to curl their hair and put on a full face of makeup before work at 9 a.m. every single day of the week? From a financial point of view, who can afford lip fillers, eyelash extensions and acrylic nails every few months? There are few members of the public that can do so with other bills to pay.
If you have an issue with your body and are willing to change it, of course, go ahead. However, online influencers who do so should be honest and not perceive their nose and boob jobs as natural. They should also disclose that it took the guts of two hours for them to prepare for their Instagram photoshoot. A ban on photoshopping is an unrealistic expectation, but the public should be informed that edits have been made to prevent the unveiling of any imperfections. We need to become more aware that what you see online isn’t reality. Social media influencers are normal people with extraordinary lives. With sponsorships and gifted products, they have the ability to change their appearance entirely. With editing software, they can create an online presence that is far from how they appear rolling out of bed in the morning. This false representation of beauty online is doing more harm that favours for girls especially, who begin to lack confidence and self-esteem because they “don’t look like her.”