Being selfie ready has never been a more sought after state. What is an “Instagram Face”?
Chances are you already had an image in your head before you finished reading the question. Look-a-likes of Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian; thoughtfully constructed eyebrows, faces heavily contoured and highlighted, lips matte and plump.
Social media has long been hailed for championing diversity, a welcome refuge from the often homogeneous mass media. But these days, people, in particular young girls, are increasingly striving to look the same — on the platform and in real life. I looked into this in a piece for The New York Post.
“For teens [in particular], looking good (as defined by norms of one’s social group and the rules of social engagement) is almost always a priority,” Dr. Pamela Rutledge, director of the Media Psychology Research Center, told The Post. “It used to be a question of not wanting to get caught out in public not looking good; the reach of what’s public has shifted.”
Indeed, social media has increased the pressures to be “selfie-ready” at all times, and arguably homogenized our ideals of beauty. “Social media is the worst thing that’s ever happened to the beauty industry,” celebrity makeup artist Pati Dubroff told New York Magazine. Makeup artist Kevin James Bennett agrees, adding that social media perpetuates but one aesthetic. “It’s like looking at a bunch of clones,” he told the New York Times. “They’re Botoxed, filled and surgeried to look like Kim.”
The social comparison is seemingly having an increasingly negative impact.
“I began working as a makeup artist because I like making women feel good and enhancing their natural beauty,” 29-year-old London-based makeup artist Gabriella Miguel told The Post. “Nowadays, every girl/woman that sits on my chair absolutely hates themselves, openly talks about it and asks me to completely change their face for an Instagram Face.”
It’s not just women adhering to these ideals of beauty; increasingly, male beauty bloggers and the like are also pandering to the “Instagram Face.” Makeup artist James Charles has the same aesthetic, and was recently made the first male face of makeup brand CoverGirl. “It’s no longer just a women’s game,” explained 29-year-old David Yi, founder of Very Good Light, a Gen Z-centric men’s beauty publication.
Instagram recently launched a new algorithm which gives popular posts more visibility, arguably making it more difficult to discover new aesthetics and alternate definitions of beauty.
What’s more, the images shared online are increasingly curated, retouched and reached by means of excessive makeup application and sometimes even plastic surgery; Kylie Jenner, 19, and Kim Kardashian, 36, have both admitted to having had work done. The demand is reflected in the real world, with plastic surgeons reporting a dramatic increase in people requesting “Instagram-worthy” surgeries.
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