Social Media ‘Spring Cleaning’

IMG_1120As a 26-year-old female, I often feel like the odd one out because I haven’t delved in the world of fillers and botox. Although have I considered it? OF COURSE! Honestly who hasn’t at this stage?

I recently did a huge unfollowing on my Instagram of bloggers, YouTubers, influencers, or whatever they are calling themselves these days. ( It’s hard to keep up!) As I scrolled through my feed on Instagram, all I saw were painful, bee-stung-pouted lips (Apparently I am responsible for starting the ‘Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge?’ It actually blows my mind that 4 MILLION people have watched this video. That’s basically the whole of Ireland), faces that lack expression, voluptuous ‘Kardashianesque’ backsides, breasts that sit perfectly snug just beneath protruding collarbones, dazzling with lashings of contour and highlight. Everything looks so effortless, yet so contrived. However, I must also commend these women for their dedication and commitment to achieving such proportions. Actress Mila Kunis was quoted saying, “Everybody is starting to look the same. It is bizarre how everyone has the same facial features now.” 

I couldn’t agree more!

I definitely need to reiterate my stance on cosmetic procedures just to crystallise that this post is by no means vilifying women who CHOOSE it, but more so a deeper insight into where these trends stem from. I don’t buy the whole, “It’s always been something I was insecure about” drivel. Take away the filters and aesthetically contrived images and beneath it all we are all the same flesh and bones. We come in different shapes and sizes and that is okay. I just wish influencers would admit that they too fall victim to influence, rather than announce the same repetitive script, ” It was something I was always insecure about.” 

I am a feminist; I believe in equality of the sexes and I genuinely feel everyone should have the overall right to determine how they wish to live their lives in their own bodies (YES, to repeal the 8th amendment in Ireland by the way!). Hoards of young, impressionable teenagers are at a vulnerable stage in their lives, totally unaware of the long-term impact these surgeries can potentially have on their physical and emotional well-being. It is only recently I watched two high profile YouTubers reveals their breast augmentations were somewhat of a regret and they were toying with the idea of removing their implants. I remember myself as an awkward 14-year-old; extremely tall, self-conscious, impulsive and of course tackled every situation with, “You just don’t understand me, Mom!” (I actually cringe as my family like to frequently remind me how I once shouted at my dad in the midst of a Kardashian marathon, “I just want to be a Kardashian!”) But it proves a point that as a teenager you become heavily invested and influenced by the media and social media you consume. There is a sense of belonging and compassion that these beautiful strangers give you. Like a big sister, they are recommending you products ‘you can’t live without.’ There is never any comprehensive logic as to why these random people were granted their very own TV show, but who cares, they’re beautiful to look at, right? 

Kylie Jenner and the whole Jenner/Kardashian clan are pretty much the poster family for plastic surgery and truly advertise this especially on social media platforms such as Instagram. (Once again, I need to reinforce that I am just stating the facts. NO HATE.) Advertising is the lucrative aim of the game and  apparently amasses to 20% of the Kardashians’ income. Let me put it this way, ONE post on their Instagram could make you enough money to pay off your entire mortgage. ($250,000 to $500,000). It is often reported that there are more qualified people in this world than jobs. Harvard Business School professor Joseph Fuller, carried out a study that investigated ‘degree inflation’, which found that having a college degree is the basic requirement for most jobs in the United States. The United States is renowned for it’s expensive third-level education (Hello student debt hanging over your head!), and unfortunately, due to a lack of financial support within many families, a large percentage of high school graduates will never get the opportunity to become the one-third of the population that gained a university degree. But what difference does a Bachelor’s degree make anyway? I personally believe in a university education and often call it my ticket to work and travel around the world.

As someone who is heavily interested in social media, I just thought everyone was aware of the obvious/not so obvious advertising plugs that many celebrities incorporate into their social media posts. Sadly, I was wrong! It bothers me when I see these celebrities pay tribute to bogus ‘butt and breast’ enhancement creams for their magically juicer assets. It is deceiving and an unhealthy message to send out to millions of die-hard followers who have invested their trust and loyalty into these ‘influencers.’ “The Influence of Influencers,” is a study carried out by gen.video and Geometry Global, which found that a whopping “90% (out of 1000 people surveyed) of social media users are influenced to make a purchase after seeing content on social media.” That figure BLOWS MY MIND!

Psychiatrist, Holly Peek examines in her article what exactly reality TV ( I feel like this can be applied to social media too) is teaching adolescent girl about what is valued in the ‘real world’ that subsequently affects their attitudes, beliefs, self-image and behaviour. Physical beauty, sex appeal, materialism, excessive partying, aggression, bullying, lack of focus on the importance of intelligence (Are you beginning to realise things?), and real world success are all issues that arise with the evolution of reality TV and influencers. The Christian Children’s Fund carried out a study by asking 10 to 12-year-olds in the developing world what they wanted to be when they were older. Their answers were predominately to be teachers and doctors. Alternatively, the same age group in the West revealed they wanted to be actors, singers and fashion designers.

I cannot imagine the pressures associated with being famous. It is something I never dreamed of or thought about, but maybe that is just to do with time in which I grew up – no reality TV or extensive social media ( Although, who else remembers MSN Messenger and Bebo?). Last year a 10-year-old girl approached me, who told me she followed my YouTube channel. She was interested in YouTube/Instagram, and quite bluntly told me she wanted to do the same thing to “become famous”. Honestly, I was shocked by her candid statement, but more so shocked because she couldn’t give me any reason as to WHY she wanted to become famous. Did she have a talent? Did she want to make a positive impact on the world? Highlight an important issue? No, she didn’t and it scared me that a large percentage of kids today “want fame more than anything.” I always associated fame with talent, doing something positive for the world but you know what they say, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Whether it is 15 minutes of pessimistic fame or the chance of increasing your Instagram followers by a couple thousand, people of all age groups crave this sense of online validation that equates to translucent popularity. “If the messages kids see on TV are about young people achieving great success and renown, it’s only natural for kids to start wanting this for themselves.”

In the early stages of reality TV, I do think there were good intentions at heart but as things escalated, so did the unrealistic scripts and the inflated business proposals that materialised to these once unknown characters. I can’t be the only one who has seen a parent throw a phone or tablet (not literally, of course) at their child in the hopes to distract them, so they can have a 15 minute gossip with their friends over coffee or enjoy a quiet meal with their partner. Supposedly kids are spending nearly 8 hours per day engaged in social media and as a parent (if you are one), you are the most important influence in a child’s life. In my eyes you can be a good propaganda machine that values education, encompassing positive characteristics such as joie di vivre (joy of life), honesty, and courage.

Now to revert back to my inspiration behind this post – the pressure to adhere to the fillers and botox trend. I want to be truthful and admit that I have used blurring Apps to alter my physical appearance. However, in admitting that I want to stress this was only to eliminate the numerous blemishes (acne) I suffer with on my face. I have talked about my insecurities in my previous post. I have never altered the size of my body. Nonetheless, that is not a sufficient excuse and I am therefore part of the problem. I cannot be the only one who from time to time, mentally refuses to accept my appearance without a reassuring filter to smooth out any undesirable pores or just evidence of being a human being with imperfections? AM I? 

I am happy to say that I have never had any cosmetic procedures, but I also don’t judge anyone who decides to either. As I mentioned above, I have absolutely been tempted on many occasions, but I know the size of my lips were never an insecurity of mine as a teenager, so why are they now? INFLUENCE! Millions of women don’t suddenly wake up one morning and decide that having small lips were a lifetime insecurity. We are constantly being fed what is desirable and how you too can achieve this ‘perfection’. #GOALS.

The other night I watched a very well-known beauty YouTuber (I won’t link it because I don’t want it to be misconstrued as being a ‘hater’ – everyone is so easily triggered these days..) talk about social media and the unattainable image influencers are portraying with their perfect lives. This young woman has had multiple cosmetic procedures (no hate) and openly admitted to renting a $1200 per night villa in Bali just, “To get really good Instagram photos”. “You are beautiful as you.” “You don’t need to change for anyone.” “You are perfect as you are now.” The hypocrisy of this juxtaposition of actions and words appears to still confirm that influencers are still so far from reality. Everyone loves to raise awareness about any trending topic and still show their followers that, “Hey! I’m human too guys!” Relatability is the perfect strategy to execute social manipulation in the most subtle form. My favourite blogger/YouTuber to-date still has to be Chloe Morello – She is extremely relatable and I appreciate her candid honesty about the cosmetic procedures she has had over the years.

There is definitely a trend happening in the beauty community that is exposing the deception of many influencers and their sneaky tactics. The idea that this unveiling is encouraging bullying or aggressive behaviour is ridiculous. Whether we like it or not, social media has become an incredibly powerful force in our lives and just like any large organisation, there will always be a few bad apples with corrupt intentions. Bloggers Unveiled  is what I like to call the ‘Wikileaks’ of the Irish beauty community. The Instagram page is reminiscent of ‘Gossip Girl’ and quickly shot above 100K followers in a short period of time but for many of the right reasons. They present you with the facts, the laws and unveil any deceitful behaviour by influencers, which I honestly appreciate and encourage you to check out.

Chuck Palahniuk – ” Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I have ever Known.” Over the years I have had some amazing friends who have taught me things, introduced me to different ideas, ways of thinking, which ultimately makes me the person that I am today. Staying true to who you are is a priceless quality that no money can buy – integrity and authenticity are two qualities I admire the most in a person.

You have to practice what you preach and admit that you too have conformed to the beauty trends of society and that’s okay, but actions speak louder than words.

 

******* IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT ME TO DISCUSS THIS ARTICLE – PLEASE E-MAIL – HOLLYLENNYDUBAI@GMAIL.COM *******

INSTAGRAM – HOLLY.LENNY

FACEBOOK – NAKEDWITHOUTMYLIPPY

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