Social Media, Self-Image, and The In-betweens
Start writing a post
Health and Wellness

Social Media, Self-Image, and The In-betweens

How platforms take a toll on what we think & do regarding our appearance

42
Social media and how it affects your self-perception

In the information age, where the prevalence of platforms like Instagram and Twitter seem to influence almost every facet of life, nothing is safe. That can hold more than one meaning depending on how you look at it, but this sort of connection can affect everyone and everything to differing magnitudes.

Social media platforms play out like the open kitchen window at the tender age of 13, where one is stuck washing the stack of dishes after dinner, while the kids outside frolic and do everything else but.

How many of us are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, leaving our less-than-lucrative jobs with a coffee-stained shirt, scrolling through IG, and stumbling upon an influencer vacationing on an island somewhere? How many of us are shuffling through the discount bin while one of those "hypebeast" users show off the latest Balenciaga wear? If this applies to how we make money and how we dress, then it certainly has double the effect on how we look, see, and mold ourselves.

While it used to be merely television, magazines, and toys that did it, social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and Twitter can now be added to the list of contributors to body image issues. SM platforms, however, have the added decisions of its users, and the unpredictability, speed, numbers that affect our self-image like nothing before.

Stylized Imperfections

The rise of studio-quality camera settings to take studio-quality pictures and videos, on a budget of someone with a $200 smartphone, was a step forward for the working class as well as everyone that didn't fit in the box of conventional attractiveness.

Beauty has two sides, conventional and unconventional; both are results of extensive and sometimes time-consuming conditioning.

Traditional, conventional beauty as applicable to women called for slim and fit, a heart-shaped face, straight hair, small nose and thin but pouty lips, and smooth, pale, blemish-free skin without a trace of wrinkles or pores.

As time passed, so did self-image and our understanding of it. Curly hair became celebrated, brows got bigger, sharp cheeks and jawlines came into vogue, full lips and fuller figures became sought after, freckles became loved and blemish-free skin of all shades gradually found corresponding colors in makeup, and, with the turn of a new decade in the 21st century, women of larger sizes were found in magazines and fashion prints. An era of progress.

Within the World of Beauty

But with the advent of social media, showcasing these once-odd features as fashion, came the call for truth. And despite our expanding ideas of descriptors like pretty, beautiful, and gorgeous, the world of beauty and attractiveness is still very much in a box.

If a model's hair is curly or kinky, it must be styled a certain way, and many ladies with hair like that will still be pushed towards straightening despite the damage and cost. Freckles and beauty spots must be minimal and relegated to areas like the cheeks, under the eyes, and maybe over the nose. Lighter skin is still idealized, as is being shorter if you're female. Lashes and eyelid tape are used to open up the eyes of models with a 'narrow gaze'.

Fat must be shaped a certain way, with fullness in the breasts, hips, and thighs accented by an unrealistic thin waist and neck, and minimal fat everywhere else. Cellulite, stretch marks, and body rolls are unacceptable in popular brands no matter your size. Contouring with makeup, even along the body, is heavily utilized.

All this results in a cosmetic, aesthetic mix not achievable by many people, especially a person whose most valuable bit of technology is a $200 smartphone.

Cookie-Cutter 'Looks'

Nostalgia harkens images, mostly, from decades past, and are typically tied to certain chunks of time like the '20s, the '50s, the '60s, and so on. An observation from various online netizens states that certain looks, certain makeup fads, certain fashion trends, and silhouettes defined every 'era'.

At least, up until the new millennium, where the technology and advances in cosmetic surgery, body modification, and popular culture slowly shifted the popular appearance to encompass elements from every image possible, into one generally, conventionally pleasant look.

The result was magazine spreads of women with 'no-makeup' makeup looks, full-but-not-too-full lips, contoured cheeks and noses, winged eyeliner, full but shaped brows, highlighted cheekbones, eye-widening lashes, and makeup, neutral glowy tones to sell the naturalness of the 'no-makeup' makeup look. The Kardashian women are famous for spearheading this look.

It works if your unaltered appearance already gravitates towards this ambiguous, conventional look. Or if you are wealthy enough to afford treatments to gain this image. But if you don't, then your self-image takes several hits. Double whammy if you can't afford to style your hair, dress, or even eat the way many on social media do.

Filters (And the 'Dark Side' of Lighting)

Filters are fun and convey personalities when applied to certain images. From the whimsical and free Snapchat filters that come with animations or even applying cartoonish features to a picture, to the artistic and 'serious' filters that wash certain colors and light schemes onto a picture on Instagram, or even drain the color for the museum-quality of black-and-white, antique photos.

If nothing else, filters help to alter one's appearance by concealing certain flaws, emphasizing certain features, and even changing the color or shade of a model's skin. This sounds harmless and typically is until one considers how many filters lighten or wash out skin tones.

Lighter skin is considered more attractive in many cultures, which is already a disadvantage to anyone born with darker skin. There are ways to lighten skin tone, but the methods that have the most dramatic results are also dangerous.

Most notable is skin bleaching, a skin lightening method that has a long myriad of side effects including thinner, weaker skin, uneven tone, severe irritation and redness, grey spots, acne, skin cancer, bone atrophy, asthma, mercury damage to the brain and kidneys, and birth defects on newborn babies.

Even less harsh methods can result in only slightly lowered harmful effects. And the decision for extreme methods like skin bleaching comes from the small, seemingly harmless motivations; like a filter on Instagram or Snapchat that makes your skin lighter, and covers your picture in hearts, flowers, and words like 'pretty' and 'fairest of them all'.

Influencers

The cherry on the top of this self image-destroying sundae are influencers, the celebrities of internet platforms that are paid by various companies to influence consumers into buying certain products and services.

What makes influencers so appealing, particularly in the self-image industry, is their 'relatability' factor. The ability to relate and build connections to the average person like no red-carpet, A-List celebrity can is a powerful testament to the way social media connects the world.

The existence of influencers also promotes the idea that "hard work pays off no matter who you are" and that people can be sufficient and well-off in a way not accessible to our grandparents. Many influencers are girls and women that promote cosmetics, food, clothing, athletic tools and equipment, procedures like Coolsculpting and gold-leaf facial treatments, technological apps and products, and other influencers and artists.

Even the presence of men and LGBTQ influencers, many who promote the same things major female influencers do, give the idea that social media and the self-image niche is welcoming, progressive, and free of religious and corporate influence.

But influencers are compensated not only to influence but to be influenced. And many influencers are unfortunately raised by money, in every possible way.

Many influencers have expendable income many of us can only dream of, and many more are heavily sponsored by companies that prey on our need to conform to what's considered attractive and happy. And influencers, much like the social media platforms we see them flaunting themselves from, are airbrushed and styled down to hide the unpredictable income and hard work that forms the base of their Hollywood-inspired appearances.

The average 9-to-5 worker has none of the expendable income or access to facilities, products, and services that influencers do, yet there is an untold expectation to do what they do to get what they have. This is unrealistic and unhealthy for many things, especially one's self-image.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Politics

What If The U.N. Actually United The Nations?

This is me taking a break from being cynical and imagining how the world could be one day.

208
Unsplash

By now, people are probably sick of hearing me talk about myself, so I’m changing it up this week. In keeping with the subject of my J-Term class, I’m asking myself a political what-if question. What if we could create a sovereign global government firmly grounded in justice that could actually adjudicate Earth’s many disparate nation-states into one unified world government?

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

100 Things I'd Rather Do Than Study

Procrastination Nation, unite.

923
Panda Whale
Here are 100 things I'd rather to than study. I know the semester just started, but

    1. Watch a movie
    2. Take a nap
    3. Have a dance party
    4. Eat ice cream
    5. Bake a cake
    6. Cry just a little bit
    7. Knit a blanket
    8. Learn to ride a bike
    9. Build a crib
    10. Watch a hockey game
    11. Watch any game
    12. Play with my hair
    13. Dye my hair
    14. Go grocery shopping
    15. Learn to crochet
    16. Do 50 jumping jacks
    17. Drive cross country
    18. Take a bubble bath
    19. Squeeze lemons for lemonade
    20. Sell the lemonade
    21. Make heart-shaped ice cubes
    22. Moisturize my knees
    23. Paint my nails
    24. Find the cure for cancer
    25. Run a marathon
    26. Just kidding, run down the hall
    27. Squat my bodyweight
    28. Eat my bodyweight in French fries
    29. Hibernate until Christmas
    30. Cuddle my body pillow (unless you have a boo)
    31. Think about all the work I’m not doing
    32. Wash my bed sheets
    33. Vacuum my apartment
    34. Play mini golf
    35. Go swimming
    36. Tan in this Texas heat
    37. Sing like I’m about to win American Idol
    38. Blow up balloons
    39. Pop the balloons
    40. Make lists
    41. Write an Odyssey article
    42. Pet a puppy
    43. Adopt a puppy
    44. Pay my rent
    45. Order a pizza
    46. Start a garden
    47. Cook a turkey
    48. Find new music
    49. Clean my waffle iron
    50. Learn to make jam
    51. Jam to music
    52. Play scrabble
    53. Volunteer anywhere
    54. Celebrate a birthday
    55. Watch a makeup tutorial I’ll never use
    56. Go through old pictures on my phone
    57. Make a playlist
    58. Take a shower
    59. Clean my room
    60. Curl my hair
    61. Climb a rock wall
    62. Get a massage
    63. Play with Snapchat filters
    64. Roast a chicken
    65. Go fishing
    66. Chug some Snapple
    67. Ride in a cart around Walmart
    68. Count the days until the semester is over
    69. Overthink about my future
    70. Think of my future baby’s names
    71. Pin everything on Pinterest
    72. Text anybody
    73. Pray about life
    74. Watch a sunset
    75. Watch a sunrise
    76. Have a picnic
    77. Read a book (that’s not for school)
    78. Go to a bakery
    79. Snuggle a bunny
    80. Clean my apartment
    81. Wash my dishes
    82. Rearrange my furniture
    83. Physically run away from my problems
    84. Make some meatballs
    85. Learn to make bread
    86. Google myself
    87. Ride a Ferris wheel
    88. Get stuck on a Ferris wheel (that way, it’s not my fault I’m not studying)
    89. Wash my car
    90. Get on a plane to Neverland
    91. Find Narnia in my closet
    92. Jump on a trampoline
    93. Learn to ice skate
    94. Go rollerblading
    95. Ride a rollercoaster
    96. Carve a pumpkin
    97. Restore water in a third world country
    98. FaceTime my family
    99. Hug my mom
    100. Tell my friends I love them
    Featured

    The Basics Of The United Nations

    As the General Assembly convenes, here is the United Nations 101

    1529
    WikiMedia

    For an organization that literally unites the nations, it amazes me how little is taught about the United Nations in schools, or at least where I went to school. It wasn't until I went to college and got a higher education that I learned the basics of the United Nations. I believe that every American should know at least the basics of what the United Nations does, especially since our country is one of the 5 permanent members. So here are the main "organs" of the United Nations.

    Keep Reading... Show less
    Student Life

    Wine Wednesdays!

    How to get through the best Hump Day get together.

    3580

    What would Wine Wednesdays be without wine? Grab a bottle of red and a bottle of white so that you have some variety. If you feel like splurging, get a bottle of Rosé too.

    Keep Reading... Show less
    schoolforthedogs.com

    Every day of the week is unique, to say the least. Although they don't have to get up for work or go to class on a Monday, dogs truly relate to the struggle we face every day. Here are the days of the week as told by the cutest pups around:

    Keep Reading... Show less

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Facebook Comments