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Beauty and Social Media: A Toxic Relationship

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at GA Tech chapter.

Every year sees a rise in social media users and during the past year of people seeking an escape from the cycle of lockdowns and terrifying news stories, there has been an explosion of users in apps like TikTok. With an estimated 689 million users, TikTok welcomed people from all over the world to use its app but with its increased popularity came issues seen in other social media apps. Beauty perception has been consistently warped by the rise of influencers and ‘IG models’ that enhance their looks through the use of photoshop apps.


People log on to their social media accounts to be met with a flood of unattainable beauty standards across all genders. Perfect skin, no stretch marks, no stomach rolls, the list goes on. This also translates to eurocentric beauty standards being pushed at the forefront with underrepresented people having to carve out a space on social media to feel seen.


Celebrities like the Kardashians that use their platforms to promote their businesses and their brands have also had a hand in shaping the beauty conversation. The Kardashians have more than 200 million followers combined on Instagram and their posts have repeatedly been exposed for using editing apps like Facetune.


Not only do they edit their posts but their history with plastic surgery has been the focus of conversations surrounding body positivity and body image. While plastic surgery is anyone’s choice to make, the Kardashians have remained tightlipped about the work they have gotten done and in multiple attempts to seem genuine about body image like Khloe’s ‘Revenge Body’ workout show, they come across as unphased as to how they influence millions of people.


We have all seen the classic ‘IG Model’ look: big lips, small waist, big boobs, big butt. Time and time again, influencers leave their original look behind to follow this trend and some even become unrecognizable. Apps like TikTok are flooded with teenagers and kids, so it’s impossible to not think of how they will be affected. In various reports over the years, the relationship between social media and anxiety and depression has been documented showing staggering evidence linking the feedback-based nature of social media to anxiety.


Whether it is through the amount of likes, the pages that share posts or comments, there is always a chance to be compared to others. This mounting pressure on young people can be too much and even for those that choose to not share their life online, the constant pile of posts on their feeds can add to an unpleasant experience.


The comparison aspect has been showcased on TikTok where it is an unfortunate trend to make fun of people that aren’t conventionally attractive (though this is completely subjective, there seems to be a consensus of what’s pretty and what’s not on the app). A person will post on TikTok and if they don’t fit the beauty standards, their comments will be filled with people admiring their courage for posting and double-edged comments.


These thinly-veiled comments not only eat away at people’s self-esteem but also sends a message to other people that it’s better to not post, because you will be torn apart. There have been countless videos on my TikTok page of young girls posting videos of them dancing or being carefree and the comments are just there to bully them instead of uplift them.


Social media goes through the same cycle of throwing out beauty trends and at the same time, leaving people’s self-esteem in shreds. As a younger generation goes on the same apps that we’ve all grown up on, we can only hope for a change in how beauty is perceived. Why not celebrate and highlight other facets of the human experience?



  1. https://i-d.vice.com/en_uk/article/7xm7kg/how-instagram-is-redefining-our-understanding-of-beauty
  2. https://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/
  3. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/kardashians-toxic-body-positive-movement_n_5b5f6333e4b0de86f499cab5
  4. https://www.mcleanhospital.org/essential/it-or-not-social-medias-affecting-your-mental-health
Vanesa Vargas

GA Tech '23

Vanesa is a third-year student at Georgia Tech majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Biology. Outside of GT, you can find her in QUARANTINE.