The world of ‘body positive’ advertising is big business. Conversely, so is the world of preying on people’s insecurities by way of click bait, and shitty newspaper headlines. ‘How to lose weight’ is one of the top google searches, not to mention, ‘how to lose weight fast’.
Each time there’s a new ‘quick’ fad diet, or beauty trend, search volume goes up and bloggers, Instagram models, newspapers and businesses jump on ways to profit on this effect by selling it to people of varied price ranges. If you can’t afford Kylie Jenner’s lip fillers, don’t worry! Too Faced have their ‘lip injection’ lip plumping gloss – it stings and tastes like pepper, but it might help your lip line swell an unnoticeable amount for just $45. If you can’t afford Kim’s PT – don’t worry! This unqualified girl on IG will give you her ‘fire’ tips in a $200 course, she hasn’t properly calculated the macros in the food plan, but it’s ~fine. You’ll just end up being thinner!
I’ve certainly played my role in this, having created videos about how to shave your bikini line without getting ingrown hairs and rashes – but the deeper I dive into this online world – the worse I feel about what tends to do well re: clicks and interaction, and why.
A while ago, I considered creating a video on weight-loss, and one on the keto diet as I tried it out (it didn’t work for me, also I hate cheese – sue me). However, the more I found these weight-loss videos, (or worse – ‘tongue posture’ and ‘how to remove your hip dips’ style videos) appearing in my recommended section on Youtube, the more frustrated I became with the appeal of these videos.
I have professionally retouched photos of myself from the handful of modelling shoots I have done in the past. Whenever I post these photos on my Instagram, they garner more ‘likes’ and attention than day-to-day selfies, or my more experimental bits I post. You might think that this would be a self-esteem boost – ‘oh look how pretty I can be, sometimes’ – it’s not. It’s awful. Each time it occurs I end up feeling terrible about myself. I know the amount of retouching these photos went through, and this reinforces the idea that my acne-scarred, make-up free face is not good enough. It reinforces the fact that I’m also not talented enough in Photoshop & photography, makeup, or styling to create shoots at this caliber myself. It also makes me wonder what the photographer cut out, and why. Was it really that hideous? Is a little bit of hair on my forearms truly awful? Is acne-scarring something I should keep a shameful secret? Is the cellulite above my knees something that will cause the world to fall apart?
So, while these ‘how to lose weight’ (or if we’re really being honest ‘how to look better according to patriarchal & capitalist definitions of ideal beauty’) style of videos will always garner clicks and trend, and likely help a channel or blog surface – I don’t want to make them.
I want to make things that are valuable to me. The things that make me happy are critical thinking, research, writing, art, reading, exploring nature and anything and everything colourful. Worrying about my ‘hip dips’, ‘thigh gaps’, or typical white girl lips and not-a-Kim-Kardashian jawline doesn’t fucking matter. And the more time I spend thinking about it will only serve to make me more depressed.
Also, what really confuses me is how many women perpetuate these beauty standards by leaving rude or hateful comments to others about their appearance online & then defend their commentary as ‘helpful tips’ – thanks Mildred, but you’re only working to promote the already problematic patriarchal standards of beauty present in this world. How can you not see that act as harming yourself, and every other person who reads this, and then internalises it? The other day I saw a comment talking about how Margot Robbie ‘suffers’ from eye-bags, making her less attractive in the viewers eyes. They’re eye-bags mate, they aren’t the fucking trade war in the south China sea playing out above her cheek bones. It’s fine.
Another interesting consideration is how much of this can come from within our own circle – from our mothers, sisters, friends, aunts, etc raising us to rid ourselves of body hair, or encouraging us to eat less, or telling us our skin is awful – again – it just reinforces two things: That looks mean more than they do, and that that appearance has to follow a set of rules in order to be viewed as valuable.
Your body is not operating on this planet purely to fit into a contrived set of standards, stylised by decades upon decades of warped images, created by way of advertising, cartoonish designs, and vaguely pedophilic notions of ‘beauty’, designed to capture your insecurities and outline what you ‘don’t’ have. Marketing has a way of taking advantage of the naturally defeatist, scarcity-oriented mentality we can suffer from in a capitalist society.
To round up – don’t let social media get you down, and follow people who make you happy and inspire you to experiment and create without worrying about how you look doing it. Beauty is definitely a commodity in this world, but it’s also ultimately pointless when it comes to creating an internal sense of happiness.