Beauty isn’t cookie-cutter


By Brooke Deasy, Managing Editor

Deep in the age of social media, with children as young as 5 or 6 navigating sites such as Snapchat and Instagram with great ease, it is evident that such multimedia services are both a blessing and a curse. While sure, having an instant distracter at hand is useful to color a dull moment—sorry Mom, an Instagram scroll provides the perfect means to blur out your spiel on the history of airplanes during a lengthy road trip, or anytime really—the countless, mindless hours perusing images of “perfectionism” are certainly having a negative impact on social media users, particularly teenage girls.

It should come as no surprise that our technological pursuits are still on the rise. The British newspaper The Telegraph reported that Ofcom (the British equivalent of our Federal Communications Commission) found that the average person spends more than a day online each week, twice as long as 10 years ago. The rise is partly due to the increase in use of those aged 16 to 24—averaging 34.3 hours a week—who are now the largest social media generation. The study also found that for the first time, women are online longer than men. No doubt a result of the social media appeal, and no doubt providing more time to develop unhealthy standards.

On Instagram especially, users are force-fed images of women with “good bodies”: long legs, thin waists, sizable chests; the unfortunate norm for measuring feminine beauty. Whether it’s a photo of Kylie Jenner in a form-fitting bodycon dress, Alexis Ren sporting a skimpy bikini or a stick-thin model (often too thin) that pops up in the form of an advertisement, the message is the same: stereotypical beauty sells.

This message is internalized by young females who carry it around in their back-pocket whether they want to or not, and use it to measure against their own appearance.

And, worsening the problem tenfold: body editor apps. I discovered this phenomenon last summer when my 15-yearold cousin asked if her photoshopped legs looked “believable,” and it became easier and easier to spot instances of body distortion on social media (look at the background, for starters. Certain corrections disrupt the normal features of cars, trees, the sky, etc.) I soon learned that a friend of mine did the same, shrinking her stomach in a bikini pic at the beach for one. Who else does this? Many of the picture-perfect beauties adored online. Those caught red-handed include Miranda Kerr, Lindsay Lohan, Jordyn Woods, Beyonce, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, lingerie company Victoria’s Secret and every single female Kardashian (no surprise there!).

The reality is that reality no longer exists on social media. Any image you encounter may have been toyed with, any photo or body manipulated. What is most unsettling is that teenagers have been sucked into the habits of compliment-driven celebrities who rely on likes and comments for self-confirmation. We have to realize that real is often a myth these days.

In order to promote realistic beauty standards and expose the irony of fake ones, social media users should follow accounts such as celebface. This Instagram account tracks down original photos of famous people taken by photographers, friends and photo agencies, and compares them to the ones posted by the individuals themselves. The difference between the two is often uncanny, and most definitely telling.

In addition, more companies should tackle body positivity campaigns such as the one launched by Aerie, which has been a forerunner in promoting women of a variety of shapes and sizes, encouraging flaws. Their mission stands in stark contrast to other lingerie brands that showcase the flawless model. As cheesy as it sounds, it comes down to understanding that beauty isn’t cookie-cutter, and that today’s beauty-standards are largely built on fantasy rather than reality