Body Image and Instagram: The Social Media Influence

Technology is something that is part of almost every university student’s everyday life. I can regularly get caught up in scrolling through Instagram in order to procrastinate on my school work, sometimes for longer than I would like, without even noticing. On Instagram, we can easily scroll through hundreds of pictures of other people and look at how “perfect” their lives are and how amazing they look. It’s also easy to start comparing ourselves and the way that we look to many of the “insta-famous” girls on the app. Girls on Instagram seem to always have the perfect body, skin, hair, life, etc. and it can be hard to feel secure in yourself and the way that you look when you are constantly comparing yourself to this illusion.

The app Facetune has made photoshopping your pictures easier than ever and it is something that is widely promoted and used by many social media influencers. An Instagram account I recently came across called @beauty.false shows a lot of photos of big social media influencers who use these retouching apps to alter their bodies and faces before they post photos to Instagram. For me, I think it is someone’s personal choice as to what they do with their photos before they post them. However, I also think that the normalization of retouching can be extremely harmful to all users on social media. We are constantly looking at photos of someone who we think looks like that naturally, but in reality they have edited themselves to fit a certain kind of beauty standard. When we as girls see these photos and assume it is natural, it can cause for us to wonder why we don’t fit this “standard” and can create negative self-esteem.

This also applies with the normalization of non-surgical cosmetic procedures (such as lip injections) and plastic surgery. This can be a tricky topic to cover, as I believe that everyone has the right to make decisions regarding their own body. However, seeing bodies on social media that we assume are natural, but have been cosmetically enhanced, can definitely affect our subconscious views of what we think is beautiful and accepted within society. As a specific example, many of the Kardashians have claimed that they have not had work done to their bodies to create the curvy figures they are well known for. This alone sets an unrealistic standard of what we view as “natural” and “achievable” qualities like having large a butt/boobs and a tiny waist with a flat stomach. Recently on social media there has been a large push for body positivity and loving yourself the way that you are, but the narrative is still being pushed that only certain kinds of bodies are desirable and most of them are bodies are bodies that cannot be fully achieved naturally.

I feel as though the call for honesty about using apps like Facetune and getting cosmetic procedures can be difficult. On one hand, it is technically no one’s business what you do with your body. On the other hand, when you are a large figure in the public eye and have many people who look up to you, it could be seen as a responsibility of these people to be open and honest so that young girls aren’t trying to achieve a certain look that can’t be achieved naturally. Even when we are aware that people have enhanced themselves in certain ways, I think it still subconsciously affects us as girls and women to think that this is what beauty is and that we must change ourselves in order to be fully accepted within society. For me personally, one of the better decisions I have made was unfollowing people on social media who I constantly compared myself to. It is important also for us to take what we see on social media with a grain of salt and remember that everything is not always as perfect as it seems.