Beauty Unfiltered? (Beauty Standards in Social Media)

Written by Rachel Wedge – Edited by Amber Champagne-Matos

Hey Friends! Amber here. As I continue on this blogging journey, I think a lot about what I want it to be. What will it ultimately evolve into? I’m not 100% sure, but I do know it’s super exciting!

However, I couldn't turn down the chance to collaborate with other writers. Not only will it give aspiring writers a chance to share their thoughts with a new audience (plus, you know how much I LOVE to encourage and help other people reach their goals!), but it will also allow our community to read pieces through the many different eyes, views and life experiences behind each piece and it’s writer. It truly believe it will give this blog the robust variety and authenticity that I dream it will have one day. It’s a win, win.

With that said, here is one of the first pieces written by guest blogger, Rachel Wedge.

Rachel is a 22 year old goal getter and recent marketing graduate from San Diego. She’s already working in social media industry and loves to spend her free time with her dog, online shopping, or at the beach. If you love what Rachel has to say, follow along on her journey. You never know where it’s going to take her! I’m excited to see what God has in store for her. Instagram @rachwedge

You already know I love to ask everyone what their definition of beauty is and guest blogger or not, Rachel is no different. Here is what she had to say: I believe beauty comes in infinite forms. There’s beauty in everything and everyone, and it would be next to impossible to try and list every aspect of beauty. My personal favorite type of beauty is the one from the soul; inner beauty. The kindness and compassion people carry. It’s what makes individuals unique; our passions, opinions, and choices.

It’s no secret. Social media has drastically shifted the way we look at beauty and self-image.

Between Snapchat filters, Instagram likes, and TikTok views, people (young women in particular – see here how they are doing full on scientific studies on this subject) constantly compare themselves to the perfected version of people they see on social media.

It’s easy for us to look at someone’s bikini photo, think “why don’t I have abs like that?” and instantly want to start a diet. However, as Instagram has grown to become one of the leading social platforms, it has also adapted to inspire change and inclusivity. So, ultimately, there are two sides to the story and it’s a much more convoluted subject than it seems to be on the surface. Kind of like beauty in general, right?

When social media was introduced to the world in the early 2000s, it was nothing more than a platform to connect with others and maybe share a video or two. With MySpace pioneering the social media world, the potential of social media influencers was not even a thought; let alone the cash cow it is today. 20 years ago, when you asked a child what they wanted to be when they grew up, the answers were usually along the lines of “doctor, teacher, firefighter”. Now, ask that question and it’s not uncommon to hear responses including terms like “vlogger” or “YouTuber”.

One of the assets of social media is the ability to filter your life. Literally and figuratively. Instagram and Snapchat filters serve as a way to make content appear more interesting, or aesthetically pleasing.

I won’t lie, I love playing with Snapchat filters. Having the ability to turn my makeup-free face into one that looks pore-less and airbrushed or add butterflies to my cheeks? Umm yeah, I’ll take it.

But is this ability actually harmful to self-image? When the filter comes off, I’m reminded of the reality of my face and skin. Now, I’m not necessarily disappointed with my bare face, but do I wish my lips were naturally a bit bigger and my eyelashes a little longer? Absolutely. Do those thoughts come from using those filters? Would I think the same way if I didn’t have access to them? I can’t be 100% sure, but I do think they create at least a subconscious and subtle attack of self-esteem.

So, we literally have physical filters that help us to portray ourselves differently, but additionally we have the ability to “filter” our lives through the nature of our posts.

Not one of us can say we are not more inclined to only post our best pictures. You know the ones… the pictures where we “look good”, the pictures of when we’re at a party, on vacation, or surrounded by our 20 closest friends. The reality is, these pictures don’t represent our entire lives.

I’m not going to speak for anyone else, but I know my Instagram pictures only come from times where I (look like I) am having fun and are make my life look appealing. When you see that one picture, you don’t see the 100 others I took that didn’t make the cut, or the other 95% of that day that was significantly less exciting. And honestly, even though I’m aware of this and know this is common practice, I STILL find myself mindlessly compare myself to the lives of everyone I follow on social media. Can you relate?

Then, came the rise of the “influencer”. As Instagram users began to grow large followings, brands took the opportunity to use them as a new form of marketing.

Influencer marketing is becoming a very popular way to promote a company for several reasons. One is that companies can easily reach a niche market. This way, they have a higher percentage of people who will purchase their products since the people exposed to the influencer are those who follow them and already have a high opinion of the person.

Also, it’s cost efficient. Billboards, and TV advertisements can cost companies millions, the cost of influencer marketing depends on how popular the individual influencer is, but is typically considerably less. This allows companies to maintain a smaller marketing budget while possibly attracting just as many clients.

And, let’s be real, influencers take this “life filtering” to another level. We’ll just leave it at that.

Now that we’ve seen the dark side of social media, let’s take a look at what’s happening on the other side of the fence.

The rise of Instagram and other social media platforms has positively impacted marketing and advertising through a call for inclusivity. Previously, marketers catered towards the idea of the “perfect woman” and created unrealistic standards just so women would see faults in themselves and be forced to pay for a product they might not really need.

Models generally all looked the same; they were tall, thin, beautiful and airbrushed. Once consumers started their own Instagram accounts, they quickly realized they had a voice and could fight to change beauty standards and the world of advertising.

Now, many brands cater to the “every woman” and make an effort to show how inclusive and accepting they are.

Dove launched their campaign for Real Beauty and showed inclusivity within the beauty industry. Aerie encourages their consumers to hashtag #AerieREAL to promote healthy, unedited women. Even Victoria’s Secret PINK is making strides to show diversity among their models.

The cynic in me wants to criticize these brands by saying this is simply a ploy to gain exposure through inclusive marketing. That the brands don’t actually care about social good. But regardless of whether this inclusivity is a façade, I believe these strides are important for consumers to see themselves in the spotlight.

And this is why as a society, I believe we should remain cognizant of who continues to embrace individuality and make an effort to support brands and people who do so.

So there you have it, what are your thoughts on how social media affects us? Let us know in the comments!

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