the unfortunate importance of beauty (and social media)

beauty is a concept and I don’t agree

I’ve never written a diary. I never really saw the point as a kid. The concept of writing down all your thoughts and feelings in a book that you were likely to accidentally leave somewhere and the contents ruin your life forever just didn’t appeal to me. Definitely wasn’t an overthink-er as a child…

However, now I think about it, this blog is like a diary for me. Just a big public diary that everyone who ever knew me or is going to know me, can read and judge me based on it. So, that’s super cool.

I wrote this and never posted it (like 70% of the posts I write), just because I like to write about what’s on my mind (like in a diary!). But I thought this was important, and I’m sure lots of people feel the same way about this as me. Plus, something happened this week on social media that upset me and some of the people I love and I’m just mad at social media. Anyway, here’s what’s currenty on my mind.

France 2019 (113 of 315)

Recently on social media, I have been seeing an increasing number of posts coming up on my feed showing women’s ‘before and after’ photos, where they are a normal size in the ‘before’ and a slightly unnaturally thin looking in the ‘after’. They are showing how happy they are after their cleanse of only drinking salted water and eating dandelion leaves for 7 months and how it has made them so much more confident in X part of their body. Usually, the issue with their body they are overcoming is something that society deems unattractive. And pretty much every time, it’s something I didn’t even realise was seen as unattractive. Because apparently, I don’t keep up with this stuff. Anyone know where I can sign up for the weekly update on unattainable beauty standards?

My point here is, if I hadn’t been scrolling through Instagram, I wouldn’t have seen that post and therefore have been in blissful ignorance that ‘that’ insecurity existed.

this is a visual representation of my feelings at the moment (also my response when a camera is pointed at me)

Now, as we all know, it’s easier than ever to spend hours scrolling past everyone’s seemingly thrilling lives and beautiful selfies. I know personally, even walking down the magazine aisle in Sainsbury’s is a horrible task. The models are a constant reminder of how bloated I feel and how I don’t like my legs, or my arms, or my face or my- anyway, let’s just say I avoid that aisle.

Something I didn’t realise wasn’t seen as ‘pretty‘ (whatever that means) are freckles. This seems odd to me, as my freckles are something I actually like about my face (shock-horror). I mean, they are uneven clusters of melanin in the skin which turn brown when they come into contact with ultraviolet rays from the sun, which I’ll admit, doesn’t sound that nice. But, I always thought they’re cool and make my face look a little bit different. Plus, it means I can make my Mii look different from all the other Miis by adding my freckles (if that isn’t a reason to love a part of yourself, I dont know what is). I was researching a photoshoot featuring Sarah Ferguson in the Nineties, in which a strong flash was used to overexpose her and bleach out her freckles. Isn’t that sad?

anna

It’s no new information that culture and the media seem to dictate what is and isn’t desirable in terms of appearance. This means, from a young age we are being subjected to these unattainable beauty standards usually seen in models in advertising. Young impressionable minds like my sister and her friends being taught what they’re supposed to look like. I’ve heard many a story from girls in her year calling each other “fat” because they JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND BODY TYPES AND NO ONE IS TEACHING THEM BECAUSE EVERYONE IS BEING BRAINWASHED BY THE MEDIA THEY CONSUME ON A DAILY BASIS. *Ahem*

Similarly, it completely depends on where you live, who you spend time with, how old you are – all of these are factors in what you see as ‘pretty’ or desirable features. And I have always thought (this might just be me being completely crazy) people become prettier based on their personality? Does anyone else find this?

ibby.jpg

The thing is (as we all know very well) the models don’t really look like that, it’s just Photoshop. Or if they do, they have very fortunate genes that not many people have. However, after seeing it our whole lives everywhere we look, our brains still strive for this ridiculous standard that is completely unachievable so we will live in misery and hunger trying to look a way we never will. And with apps like Face-tune so easily available, it’s easier than ever for people to retouch their own images to make themselves look however they want.

On the other hand, I have no issue with working to be stronger and healthier. Like my mother, who works out 5 times a week and eats a mostly carbohydrate and sugar free diet. And my goodness, she looks fabulous because of it. I envy her amazing abs and crazy low heart rate. She doesn’t strive to look like the stick thin models we all know, but instead to be fit, strong, and healthy and I think we should all take a leaf out of her book. I think my sister and I are lucky to have her as a great role model.


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georgia.jpg

Because I work in the photography industry (I know, I don’t believe me either) I am now constantly looking at other product and commercial photography for inspiration in my own work. Following big brands on Instagram, I see so much false-ness it scares me. I have to unfollow accounts because instead of being inspired by their photos, it just makes me feel bad about myself. With people joining sites like Instagram younger and younger SURELY this can’t be right.

Recently, we spent some time going through modelling agency websites looking for a model for our latest shoot. I was met with a separate page for the models labelled ‘curvy’. I couldn’t work out why everyone wasn’t on the main page and not just this one body type needing a whole separate page? And, something that confused me even further: on each of their profiles the word ‘curvy’ was put before their names. I wasn’t sure what to make of that to be honest. I was just in shock. But even more shocking for me was the dress size that was considered ‘curvy’ was as small as a 12. The average dress size of a woman in the UK is a 16. So something doesn’t quite add up.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I read something the other day that said: “unfollow all the influencers on your timeline and follow artists instead, you will be so much happier”. I really agree with this and think it’s how Instagram was supposed to be used. Social media can so easily be used to hurt people, as I’ve seen a lot of first-hand recently. Behind the screen, people don’t really see the consequences of what they’re saying or posting and I think too much of it can just be toxic.

maea


Here are a couple of my fave pretty pretty Instagram accounts:

@meanwhileinnowhere, @jean_jullien, @accidentallywesanderson

I have so, so many more, so if you want some suggestions hit me up 😉

floh new


And don’t get me wrong, despite my preaching, I am far from being immune to people’s cruel words or okay with how I look. Even though I know ‘beauty’ is a construct created from the media I’ve been exposed to and the people I’ve grown up around, there are many parts of myself I critisise on the daily.

To my sister and her friends (who, let’s be real, definitely aren’t reading this) or anyone who might be feeling a little (a lot) insecure, take a moment to unfollow anyone who makes you feel that way on social media, even though they don’t mean it. Or take a few days off social media altogether – your mental health is much more important. And something that always helps me is to remember that your body is just the vessle that houses your mind and personality, which is the part that really matters. Jeez, when did I get so cheesey? Sorry, hold on while I just go throw up real quick.

N.B. All the photos in this post are just a few of my gorgeous gorgeous friends and family. You are all beautiful inside and out.


2 thoughts on “the unfortunate importance of beauty (and social media)

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