Beauty standards: Damaged by Instagram

4 Mins read

A recent report on ITV News said there is a negative impact of social media on the younger generation; Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield is urging schools to take action on teaching the emotional impact popular apps like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter can have.

The growth of social media in the last two years has been able to transform lives of ordinary teens to online celebrities. However, this glamorous lifestyle that is being curated on social media is sending out an image of perfection that isn’t entirely real.

Longfield described the impact as, “an avalanche of pressure when children really are faced with a cliff edge of social media interaction when they start secondary school.”

A sense of validation is subconsciously being created through likes and comments as young people are now comparing themselves to their favourite online celebrities. As the younger generation is growing up with this being normality, we wanted to speak to an older group of millennials who have seen the growth of Instagram and felt its effects.

Artefact spoke to Maya, Domi, Diamond and Lidya who are all active users of Instagram. They are the generation of millennials who saw the big shift to Instagram and devote a large amount of time to watching their favourite influencers online. To them, YouTube has now become TV as they subscribe to watch beauty and hair tutorials, travel vlogs and day-to-day adventures.

A community they find comfort in being a part of is the natural hair community. However, although this was initially created to celebrate all kinds of textures and skin complexions, it is now being dominated by women with looser textures and lighter skin tones.

We talked with these girls to find out how these stereotypes and expectations of beauty are affecting them and how they are overcoming them. All of them are trying to make a conscious effort to try to share their imperfections with their niche audience of black women as they try to collectively take over societies beauty standards.

Diamond, 20 

How does Instagram influence you?

“It’s a source of inspiration. It makes me reflect on my life, you know? I use it right though but I do witness the horrible side of it where women specifically are always comparing themselves. When I see a fitness post I often question my value but I guess every woman does it.”

Do you ever feel the pressures of being perfect?

“Yes, all the time. I won’t post sometimes because of wanting my feed to look perfect.”

What makes you connect with your favourite influencer?

“Seeing that they are a real person through a screen”.

Domi, 19 

How does Instagram influence you?

“It influences me in my everyday life, especially when I go out and I aspire to take cute pictures like everyone else. It makes me conscious of what I’m doing in public, how I act and what type of pictures I want to take.”

Do you ever feel the pressures of being perfect?

“Yes, a lot actually. Especially for my skin; I don’t have perfect skin. I sometimes see people with it and it makes me aspire to have it until a couple of days ago when I had the courage to post a picture with my natural skin. It made me stand up and say this is me and I’m going to have to embrace it and reclaim my beauty.”

Who inspires you?

“HeyGorJess and OwnByFemme. They both get to travel a lot and do what they love. I want to someday be able to do the same. I love it when influencers are vulnerable and real with us, not just when it is picture perfect. It’s great when an influencer interacts with us too and replies to our comments. It makes me build a genuine connection with them. A lot of people don’t realize that it is just a small percent of someone life that we get to see online.”

Maya, 20

How does Instagram influence you?

“I would say now I use it whenever I have a question about something or whenever I need some ideas. It’s good to see a variety of stuff but it’s bad because it’s easy to compare yourself to other people and it’s hard to realize that it is just an image that they are portraying and not their entire life.”

Do you ever feel the pressures of being perfect?

“Yes, most of the time I do. Especially with dating as I feel like because of social media I have to present myself in a certain way to get their attention. It’s easy to compare to someone with a toned body or perfect skin. I’m inspired by anybody that is true to themselves and encourages other women. I like anybody that shows their stretch marks, their natural skin and hair.”

Lidya, 20

How does Instagram influence you?

“It has influenced my photography and made me more aware of what I want to post.”

Do you ever feel the pressures of being perfect?

“I feel pressured when I see people with a perfect feed or who get a lot of likes and followers. Sometimes I compare myself to that but at the end of the day I will never be them. I connect with people who share similarities to me, like hair or photography. It helps me connect with people.”





Featured Image by ArtsyandBlack via Instagram

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