How Influencers Are Perpetuating Harmful Standards of Beauty
Fyre Festival was a collective disaster, so much so that two documentaries were produced and dropped within days of each other. For those of you who haven’t seen either one, Fyre Fraud was produced by Hulu and features an interview with Billy McFarland, the fraudster, sociopathic creator of the festival who was sentenced to six years in prison. McFarland, along with Jerry Media, a social media marketing agency, are the ones that elevated Fyre Festival as the next Coachella. The Netflix documentary of the festival titled, Fyre, was produced by Jerry Media, so there is a biased but it does dive more into how McFarland and by extension, Jerry Media, kept pushing for the festival to happen despite the millions of red flags that never stopped waving. Fyre is a bit more brutal because it shows how much the local community workers were scammed out of money despite working damn near around the clock for weeks. Fyre Fraud does a better job at holding McFarland’s feet to the fire in his interviews.
There was a lot of bullshit to unpack but what both documentaries glaringly pointed out was that this festival would not have happened if not for social media influencers. McFarland hired the most prominent social media presence such as Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid to help promote the festival. Jenner's hashtag alone helped to put the Festival on the map and she netted $300,000 for it.
However, it was a bit surprising to see how many people bought tickets just based on the models’ Instagram page although in fairness, the models didn’t give any indication that they wouldn’t be at the festival (spoiler alert they weren't.)
Instagram was where Fyre Festival was mainly promoted by Jerry Media and models and Instagram influencers. Instagram launched in 2010 and is owned by Facebook. Its design was to be a video and picture sharing service although in recent years, it’s turned into a beacon of misinformation on the physiology of the human body.
In the last few years, many people has started to demand body positivity and representation from the fashion industry and all that entails. Dove was one of the first corporations to embrace them, starting in 2006 when its “Evolution” video went viral on the new website called Youtube.
The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty was created with mega success, especially with its 2013 video ”Real Beauty Sketches”
Promoting body positivity is not something new, just more necessary in the age of social media. Photo manipulation is ancient as well and while some don’t see it as a problem, even the most subtle of changes can be damaging. You'd be hard-pressed to find somebody that's not insecure about something and beauty and fashion industries capitalize on this.
The fashion and beauty industry feed off of people’s insecurities and people’s insecurities are fed by the fashion and beauty industry. Social media is the superglue keeping them together.
Filters, photoshop, and editing tools have been used for marketing for so long that it’s easy to forget that these “perfect” bodies are the results of manipulation.
It’s not that (some of) the bodies are unattainable; it’s just what is being shown isn’t an accurate depiction of reality. The problem has gotten so bad that there are several Instagram accounts and a sub on Reddit called “InstagramReality” (IR) that showcases how distorted a lot of Instagram photos are.
The community on IR has eagle eyes when it comes to finding photoshopped pictures, usually by looking for curves l, waves or distortion in the background of photos. The IR sub-reddit educates its users on the terrible FaceTune and photoshopping skills of many Instagram users, who definitely go overboard with adjusting the sizes of their bodies to where it looks alien.
Occasionally the sub will point out when magazines have done it, but it’s mostly about real people who are ‘shopping themselves almost unrecognizable.
Many often point out how attractive the unedited pictures are and there are sporadic discussions about how this is bigger problem with society as a whole.
Some of the pictures are rather subtle; they might just shave an inch or so from their waistline/legs/thighs/stomach. However, many of the posted pictures are not. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to post the most flattering picture of themselves but that just helps perpetuate a false reality to impressionable minds.
Many people in the IR sub have shown appreciation of finding the community as it has done wonders toward their own body positivity. It is lovely to realize these seemingly perfect models have cellulite and normal bodies like the rest of us (normal meaning not altered so much to
Men aren’t exempt from it either.
The reason why it’s important for online communities like IR and Instagram accounts whose sole purpose is to call these people out is because it’s unhealthy. Seeking validation from others is a part of life, especially when looking for support or guidance. But even that can go left when those same support groups turn into echo chambers with no allowance for dissonace. It’s unfortunate when the person is seeking social media validation on their attractiveness, as it shows how heartbreakingly deep insecurities can run.
Lighting, positioning, and all play a role in taking the perfect photo.
But remember that a healthy dose of skepticism is a good rule of thumb.
Babies are the only ones that have exceptionally smooth, non-wrinkled skin. Most adults have cellulite and it's totally normal.
With the rise of many social media users calling out photoshop, a few companies have decided to join the battle against unrealistic beauty standards such as Modcloth and Seventeen Magazine. CVS has also announced they were photoshop free concerning their beauty products with it's “Beauty in Real Life"Back campaign. In 2014, American Eagle said it would stop eating Photoshop as well as diversifying its models. This was met with a positive reception that led to an increase in sales.
Body positivity can be hard to maintain in a beauty-driven society. We can help each other and the next generation understand that we're all beautiful and don't need to meet any expectations outside of our own.