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Self-Help: Is social media creating unattainable beauty standards?

There's been a lot of talk about beauty standards lately and it got me thinking about the topic and how social media comes into play. It's kind of a strange subject though because beauty ideals vary a lot from different places and they're always changing... then, social media creates a strange concoction, as it connects you with people all over the world, by Rosa Fairfield.

Photographs by Linda Smith


What are unattainable beauty standards?
It's a weird one really. Most people tend to want to relate to other people and be part of a group. I think that's what really creates beauty standards to begin with. One person has a specific trait that people like and we all suddenly want to be like that person, instead of celebrating our own uniqueness. It's like... if the world changed tomorrow and the new beauty standard was to have brown teeth... it's something a lot of people would probably consider unattractive at the moment... although, if it suddenly was attractive, we'd still have to go through so much effort to achieve that look.

The goofy face Instagram trend
This is another weird one, I tend to pull weird faces in pictures when I'm feeling uncomfortable... hence the pictures above. I kinda feel like this has become an Instagram tend lately. People will post a serious face and then a goofy face and say real life vs Instagram. That's all about personality though not real life. Some people are just naturally super serious in real life, that's cool too. In away it's just creating a new standard... that to fit in with the 'gram' you have to post these types of pictures now.

Beauty standards online vs. real life
I think Instagram has a whole lota beauty standards that don't 100% hold up to real life anyway. Most people where I live wear jeans, tees and little make-up. That's the beauty standard. You're often considered 'not-fashionable' weird or laughed at if you dress outside of that standard. In fact, someone even said to me at university that they liked my style because it was 'unfashionable'. A lot of the time social media exists in it's own little bubble so in it's own way, it creates beauty standards. Those standards don't always translate into real life.

I don't know, I feel like it does have a little bit of the culture of: I'll dress like this for the photo but people don't always follow through with that look in everyday life... and that doesn't have to be either a good or bad thing.

Is social media making people anxious about their appearance?
Well, I can only really speak for myself here. I have felt anxious taking pictures of myself for my blog and social media accounts and have got upset about it. That's not really to do with the culture of social media though. That's very much a personal thing to me in general. I'll want to look my personal best and I'll get frustrated with myself if I don't. That's nothing to do with anyone else, I think other people look great and I'm not comparing myself to them.

I just want to point out that it's not just online that people are made to worry about their appearance. I've seen people have more negative comments made to them, about their appearance in real life, than online. That can be just as damaging... and often people make those comments when they're feeling insecure about their own appearance. Then they want to point out other's faults to subconsciously feel better about their own. It's a trap that's easy to fall into of: 'please post rubbish pictures of your life on Instagram so I can feel better about my rubbish life.'