ELLE Article: “Why Don’t I Look Like Her? How Instagram is Ruining Our Self-Esteem”

This is working towards objective 1.

Below is a summary of extracts taken from an article I found online whilst researching into Social Media, Self-Perception and Facts in relation to my well-being campaign project.

I have included these extracts on my blog as I felt that each indicated an element which I am looking into – the impact of social media, the beauty/fashion industries. I feel as though I have neglected researching into the impact of magazines as much as social media throughout this module, however through research have discovered that social media at present is much more evident and prominent and impactful looking at the stats and figures on usage, as well as taking into account that brands, designers and the noted industry are focusing much more of their attention on utilising these platforms to reach a larger, vaster audience without cost implications as a pretty good advantage. I have been using social media initially for an Instagram-led project, which allowed me to naturally see overtime that the reactions on social media were instant, along with feedback. In addition I also noted, that the target audience I have been reaching out to are more in-tune with digital platforms and social media than print, whilst being a better, immediate platform to promote and share my work, my idea, my concept, and my message of how these industries affect how we see ourselves in so many ways.

However, as also researched and noted as a focus, social media can also have a very negative impact on oneself and our mental health being the focus of my current project, a wellbeing campaign regarding these specific impacts of social media, therefore altering our perceptions. As shown below, it can also affect those who work in the industry, and this is something I am keen to explore through my interview-led research in Semester 2.

“Christina Caradona revealed to her 131,000 Instagram followers that she doesn’t show her “whole face” in selfies because she is “self conscious” of her “weird eyes”.

Jenny Albright admitted to asking her ex-boyfriend to delete a beach picture from last summer because “I didn’t like the way my body looked,” she said. “I was leaning over in a way that makes your stomach roll. It just wasn’t a good look.” Interestingly, I was also in this picture, and only remember envying how beautiful I thought she looked—radiant and tall with perfect hair—and thinking how short I appeared next to her.”

“Research from the University of Buffalo indicates that women who base their self-worth on their appearance are likely to post more pictures of themselves on social media seeking validation. In turn, they are also more likely to have a larger number of followers. Their pictures, which, before the advent of Instagram in 2010, were probably candid snapshots posted to Facebook with little or no thought, are now taken to reflect their best body angles, their best outfits, with their best facial features placed under the most flattering light. This can lead to a feeling of dread when a photo surfaces online, say, on another friend’s Instagram account, over which they had no control.”

“Dr. Pamela B. Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center at Fielding Graduate University and author of PsychologyToday’s blog Positively Media, explained that this anxiety stems from a tendency to concentrate on specific aspects of our looks rather than the bigger picture. “We focus on the things that we’re most concerned with, whether that’s the perception of a physical fault such as ‘my lips look too thin,’ or a temporary one like ‘does my sunburn show underneath my makeup?’ We tend to be much harder on ourselves than others are on us,” she said. “Whereas others take in an image holistically, noticing expressions of emotion and mood such as a smile, we are scrutinizing the minor details.”

“When it comes to self-perception on social media, selfies are, there is no better way to put it, the worst. Most people fall into two groups: You are either embarrassed to participate, tentatively posting one in fear of being ridiculed by friends (at least half of the women I interviewed for this story said they belonged to this group but will post selfies anyway, only to later question the image they chose, stewing over whether it really was, in fact, a good picture of them), or they are confident enough to post one, but will often add filters, or use retouching apps to erase ‘flaws.’ For the young, impressionable, and unaware, this could arguably be more damaging to self-esteem than an obviously airbrushed fashion campaign.”

“There are apps out there which can change everything: your eye color, the size of your eyes, slim your cheeks,” said 24-year-old model Iskra Lawrence, who helped put together the un-airbrushed 2014 charity calendar Model Kind, and says she hasn’t retouched any of her Instagram images—”yet.” “It is so much scarier than magazines,” she said. “At least most people realize that magazines and campaigns have been airbrushed. But young girls are looking at selfies on Instagram and they’re not realizing that some people are using apps to totally change what they look like.”

“Everyone I spoke to for this story, besides Iskra [Lawrence], admitted to retouching photos of themselves in some way—even if a filter was all they added. New Zealand-born model Emma Sanders, 24, and Human Gallery NYC owner, Rachael Yaeger, 27, both said they use filters to change the way they look on Instagram. “I use a filter to change the light sometimes because it can change the bone structure in your face,” said Emma, who now lives in New York. Yaeger, meanwhile, uses black and white filters on her selfies because it helps to smooth out her sensitive skin. “I notice [my skin] immediately, and think that’s the first thing other people will see,” she explained.”

Kamie Crawford, a 25-year-old model from Maryland, says she retouches her social media images “all the time,” however she says she is honest with her followers about it. “Ideals of beauty are so farfetched, it feels like every single moment you have to be perfect,” she said. “Usually I do underneath my eyes, dark circles or creases. I also use Perfect365, an app that can give me eyelashes because mine are really short,” she revealed, adding that as a plus-size model, she leaves her body alone. Mallory Blair, the 26-year-old co-founder of Small Girls PR, will retouch acne or bags under her eyes using the ‘blur’ tool on popular Japanese photo apps, and like Crawford, she hopes her honesty will shed some light on a phenomenon she says is simply “reality” nowadays. “I’ve retouched things that, honestly, if I had taken more time focusing on the angle, like where the light was hitting my face, I probably wouldn’t even have to use it,” she said. “But I’ll be like, ‘Okay I can just really quickly add blur to that spot and I’m done.'”

“Mark Zuckerberg wrote in 2012 that social media will lead to “the empowerment of people.” But by conditioning us to pick ourselves apart, minor detail by minor detail, is social media just sending society spinning down a rabbit hole of self-doubt? In her thesis titled “Why Don’t I Look Like Her? The Impact of Social Media on Female Body Image”, Claremont McKenna College graduate Kendal Klein argues that the “ubiquitous and enduring nature” of social media has a more of a “detrimental impact to the body image concerns of college aged women than advertising or the media generally.”

“Curating the ‘perfect’ social media self extends beyond selfies, however. Instagram enables us to put an aspirational front on our lives, to create our own brand, in a sense, like a personal magazine, meticulously curated based on things we like, or more often than not, things we know other people will like—or be envious of. Instead of posting a photo of yourself because you want to share it with friends or family, it becomes more about the ‘brand of you.’ Last month Garance Doré touched on this subject in a post titled Instagram vs. Real Life, writing: “The thing with Instagram, it’s the difference there is between our real life and the dream life we post. Ok so we’re all supposed to know it and take Instagram life with a grain of salt, but let’s be honest, we all forget.”

Fleming, O. (2014). ‘Why Don’t I Look Like Her?’: How Instagram Is Ruining Our Self Esteem. Available: http://www.elle.com/beauty/tips/a2531/how-instagram-is-ruining-our-self-esteem/. Last accessed 12th November 2016.