When I was younger, I would always look to magazines and movies to see what other women were wearing, and determine how I was supposed to look. Magazine covers used to be the old beauty standard, but that has changed with the popularity of social media sites like Instagram. Instagram has allowed us better access to look at other’s lives. The main focus of young women when using Instagram is how many “likes” they get on pictures, comments or how many “followers” they have. It seems that the popular women, with the most followers are setting the new beauty standard for women because of the attention they are getting for how they look. Unfortunately, many of these women do not actually look like this in real life, because of photo edits and filters, not to mention plastic surgery. Instagram has become a new beauty standard and is causing an increase rate of insecurities for women. Many of these beauty standards are unrealistic, but companies use these standards to help further sell their products.
So what exactly are these beauty standards that are being marketed by Instagram?
Many businesses have noticed the popularity these women get from social media, and have strategically used them to sell their products and further encourage unrealistic beauty standards. These companies claim that their products gain the results that these women already have to start with. One of the major products that push for unrealistic beauty standards are waist trainers, sold by companies such as “Tiny Little Waist”. Many celebrities and Instagram famous women are paid to post pictures of them wearing the waist trainer, and claiming that they got an hour-glass figure while using the product. This is very smart on the companies end, because when people see that celebrity with their skinny waist, getting all the likes and followers on Instagram, they instantly associate it with the waist trainers. The women claim that the waist trainers reduced their waist 2-6 inches, just by the first day. Not only are waist trainers being promoted by this company, but also butt shape wear that claims to give you a “perky desirable butt.”
Another popular fad on Instagram is “Fit Tea” which is a detoxifying tea that claims to boost energy and help you achieve a flat stomach. Women who use this product claim that they have never looked or felt better. Many women with a social media platform, post half naked pictures, showing their flat stomachs and claiming that the tea is how they got it. The pictures receive thousands of likes, which further promotes the product. The problem is not the product these companies are marketing, but how they are going about it. Many of these women pose in different angles to appear more flattering, and use different filters. The women these products are targeting seem to be in a 16 to 28 year demographic based on the personnel that the companies use to market these products.
Advertisements can be deceitful when they are selling their products, but many women fail to see that because the mass amount of women who are claiming that the product works, because they are getting paid for it.
After researching these products, I really wanted to understand the impact that these social media sites had on other young women, and how it affects the way they act in society. One of the best studies I found was an article called “Follow Me and Like My Beautiful Selfies: Singapore Teenage Girls’ Engagement in Self-Presentation And Peer Comparison On Social Media”. The article describes how teenage girls are looking at Instagram to use as measure for their own beauty. The study that article wrote about showed how girls were going to extreme measures, such as spending an extreme amount of money on makeup and clothes, and posing half naked, in order to receive an increased amount of likes on Instagram. With less likes than expected, many young women find a drop in their self-esteem. A study has found that eating disorders are found to be associated with the use of Instagram and other social media sites (Sidani, 2016). Women see other women who get a lot of attention for how they look, and desire to look like those women too. Many of the products advertised on Instagram are to look skinnier, and are promoted by popular celebrities, many of which young women look up to.
During week 3, we examined commercials that we found effective. Many of the commercials that were found most effective were because we could identify with them on a personal level. These commercials portrayed a childhood memory or something we found to be attractive. These advertisements used popular athletes and actors. The commercials also contained messages that were subtle. Many of these advertisement techniques have been translated over to Instagram in order to sell more products. For example, when companies are selling “fit tea” they may not say it will make you skinny, but they use thin/fit women to advertise their product.
So what can we do in order to change these unrealistic beauty standards?
- Educate young women on products that are being sold.
- Women need to find self-love
- Young women should be taught that celebrities look the way they do because of plastic/cosmetic surgery, not the product they are promoting.
- Support companies that promote self-love.
- Stop idolizing “Instagram Models” and find better role models.
My research has caused me to find that the beauty standards that are being set on these social media sites are causing women to have extremely low self-esteem. This low self-esteem is what many companies promote and feed off of in order to sell their products. Women are constantly comparing their lives to the pictures they see on other women’s Instagram accounts. If a young woman was to spend a couple hours getting ready, takes a picture, posts it on Instagram, and doesn’t get very many likes, she may believe herself to be unattractive and there for have low self-esteem. This may cause her to spend serious money to change herself, so that she is approved by others. Companies are aware of this, promote it, and take advantage of it. As consumers, we need to be aware of what companies and people are trying to promote, and the reason behind it. Women need to stop comparing their lives and looks to other women, and realize that most of those women in those pictures do not actually look like that in real life.
“The Beauty of Self Love – The Skinny Mirror.” The Skinny Mirror. N.p., 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2016.
Chua, Trudy Hui Hui, and Leanne Chang. “Follow Me And Like My Beautiful Selfies: Singapore Teenage Girls’ Engagement In Self-Presentation And Peer Comparison On Social Media.” Computers In Human Behavior 55.(2016): 190-197. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Nov. 2016.
Sidani, Jaime E., et al. “The Association Between Social Media Use And Eating Concerns Among US Young Adults.” Journal Of The Academy Of Nutrition & Dietetics 116.9 (2016): 1465-1472. Academic Search Premier. Web. 6 Nov. 2016.
Stronge, Samantha, et al. “Facebook Is Linked To Body Dissatisfaction: Comparing Users And Non-Users.” Sex Roles 73.5-6 (2015): 200-213. Gender Studies Database. Web. 6 Nov. 2016.