Social Media has almost become second nature for most of us Internet addicts. So what happens when we begin obsessing over our social media presence? What are we teaching young people about self-worth and acceptance if all we care about is our boasting likes and capturing the perfect Instagram selfie?
Think about your own social media use. Do you have purposes for each and every one of the accounts you follow? Are they family members? Friends? Work colleagues? Or are they perfectly sculpted Instagram models whose presence on your feed only act to make you feel bad?
How many times a day do you scroll through your own Instagram feed obsessively analysing the photos you’ve shared? What sort of questions runs through your mind?
“Did I get enough likes?”
“Do I look slim enough in this photo?”
“Should I maybe change my captions?”
The commonality of these inner monologues reflects the current social culture being shared across the internet and stands as indicative of the unrealistically high expectations of beauty and perfection for people of all ages and backgrounds.
Award-winning digital marketer, public speaker and businesswoman – Bailey Parnell, exposes the concept of social media being a ‘highlight reel’ – “a collection of the best and brightest moments” in a persons life, something we delicately curate and edit to share when we’re feeling our best. Parnell describes the ‘highlight reel’ in her TEDx Talk, as having a negative influence on modern beauty standards.
How are we expected to keep up and cope with the pressures of being perfect when we are almost constantly fed an ideology stemmed from ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’, a reality TV show that millions are obsessed with but cannot realistically relate to. I mean sure, you can relate to the dramatic sibling arguments, relationship drama and the occasional moment of peace spent with family, but do you own millions of dollars or share a world-renowned brand with your family members? Probably not. You also probably haven’t had as many surgical enhancements as each member of the Kardashian clan have.
Celebrities are the culprits of using their body to expedition unhealthy beauty ideologies to men and women. There is nothing wrong with desiring a change to your body in order to facilitate well-being, which can be permitted through exercise, natural remedies and sometimes if you want it bad enough – surgery. But it’s important to remind yourself that plastic surgery should not be desired to the point where it begins affecting your mental health. Unfortunately, however, it is in many companies best interests to keep us dissatisfied.
Body Positive Model Iskra Lawrence contends that “if we are insecure, we are a motivated consumer”. The 28-year-old model dedicated to exposing the truth on society’s dangerous standards of beauty has been in the fashion and beauty industry for over a decade. According to Lawrence, who has a strict no retouching policy for all her Instagram photos, body positive role models for young people are crucial to healthy development, as seeing confident people of all shapes and sizes promotes the practice of self-care and self-love.
The increase in self-judgment within society has proven to be directly correlated with our growing social media use, and its time to start taking its effects seriously. I feel almost certain that every social media user has incurred doubts prior to uploading a selfie or a photo featuring themselves. How often do you zoom into your own face in selfies and tagged photos to make sure you have the right angle, edited out any blemishes, added layered filters just for some decent Instagram likes?
Is this how we measure our value? Our time partaking in such a toxic obsession not only floods our mind with extremely unhealthy thoughts but slowly succeeds in normalising this kind of behaviour. It’s time we begin pioneering new body standards for the sake of our mental health. The constant advertising of unrealistic beauty expectations leads to damaging effects such as anxiety, depression, social anxiety, low self-esteem and more.
We need to embrace and most importantly INCLUDE body diversity in our beauty communities. If all we’re consuming is tanned Instagram models with the perfect lips, slim build, perky behind and flawless skin, then how can we ever expect to accept ourselves. Beginning a journey of self-love and acceptance is daunting in this day and age where any freckle, any portion of weight gain or any break out would ruin your potential future selfies, and we’re long overdue for a reality check.
This is not the time for more unrealistically photoshopped models and unattainably perfect lifestyles. The social climate is shifting. Now, perhaps more than ever, there is want and need for more self-accepting influencers, more body positive content that’s widely accessible to all social media users. We need more colour, more shapes and sizes, more representation in the media and on our screens. Setting a refreshing and positive example is beauty lover and fashion junkie, Nabela Noor. Noor has gained social media notoriety by using her platforms on YouTube and Instagram to deliver self-empowering, body positive messages to her combined following of 1, 625, 000. Her YouTube videos tackle issues from body image to racism, to beauty diversity and lifestyle tips. Using her voice to raise awareness of destructive beauty ideals, Noor is unafraid to speak up about her own personal story and emotional journey to self-love.
“Society imposes unrealistic beauty and body standards on us and the mirror can project those right back at us. Don’t let your mind bully your body. Don’t reserve your happiness for a later date or a later weight.”
In one of her latest YouTube projects, she is open about her own experiences and preaches advice on how beauty and self-acceptance have changed over time. With so many people today willing to assess their self-worth through likes and social media popularity, it is time to draw the line in the sand and start creating an environment where beauty cannot be defined by a newsfeed. It’s time to start listening to body positive activists like Iskra Lawrence, Bailey Parnell and Nabela Noor, and begin reclaiming our bodies with love.
Perhaps its time to stop and take a moment to refresh our self-worth instead of our newsfeeds.