Three iPhones with social media icons on the home screen

Social Media Isn’t Reality

By Arlett Ramirez
Assistant Web Content Manager

Nowadays, everyone seems to be plugged into a social media platform like Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Some of us follow celebrities to see a glimpse of their day-to-day life when they’re not being “fabulous” to give us a sense of “huh, they’re just like us” and to keep up with their lifestyle.  Social media is a great way to stay connected to family and friends, yet it also has some drawbacks that can negatively impact us. 

By following influencers and celebrities, young women can often compare themselves to them. According a BBC article, “People are comparing their appearance to people in Instagram images, or whatever platform they’re on, and they often judge themselves to be worse off,” said Jasmine Fardouly, a postdoctoral researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. 

In that same article they reference a survey taken with 227 female university students, “women reported that they tend to compare their own appearance negatively with their peer group and with celebrities, but not with family members, while browsing Facebook.”

The question has to be asked: why do we compare ourselves with others on social media? 

Most often than not, social media is a one-sided story where people only post the positive, happy and amazing moments rather than the true and unedited moments. Photos are full of wide smiles and laughter when it could be a façade for sadness and depression. Many people on Instagram have been truthful of their struggle with mental health and how social media can be draining. 

Selena Gomez, one of the most followed people on Instagram who gets millions of likes on posts, admitted that social media can be draining. She even took a hiatus from Instagram and admitted that she doesn’t have the app on her phone. Recently she’s been advocating for people to be proud and happy with their own beauty rather than try and look like social media influencers. 

Instagram seems to be full of Kardashian-Jenner look-alikes. Full lips, flat stomach, wide hips and a big butt. If it’s not the former there are countless bikini-clad models with flat stomachs, thigh gaps, small waists and not an inch of fat. Most of these pictures are heavily edited and filtered causing young women to believe in unrealistic beauty standards. 

Many of these social influencers have gone under the knife or are using fillers/Botox and are not being honest about it. I have nothing against plastic surgery. If you have an insecurity that you want corrected or removed, go for it, but don’t think that you must get procedures to be beautiful or that you need it to be considered beautiful. 

Kylie Jenner repeatedly denied using lip fillers for years until she finally admitted that she did indeed use lip filler. There was even a Kylie lip challenge where girls would try and plump their lips by sucking on a cup. Some girls had to be hospitalized because they had ruptured blood vessels. Does the cost of beauty have to be a health concern? 

It’s normal to compare ourselves to people. It’s a social comparison, but we need to understand that we can’t compare to something that doesn’t exist. 

When I’m on campus, I don’t see people who look like the social media influencers on Instagram. I see girls who look like me, with acne, stretchmarks with normal bodies. That’s reality, not what’s on social media. How many times do you see someone who looks like Kendall Jenner at school or at the grocery store? Or someone who looks like the Hadid sisters walking down the street? 

Why are we letting this small percentage of the population have such a powerful influence over the majority? 

This influencer culture is toxic. It’s causing us think that it’s normal to take thousands of pictures of ourselves, wear designer brands, socialize all day, look airbrushed all day every day and buy new outfits each week. Plus, the “point system” of likes and followers which measures how much someone is “worth” is downright wrong. It’s an environment of toxicity, shame, and degradation.

We have to stop glamorizing this behavior, exit out of our social media apps, put our phones down and look at the real world around us rather than the virtual reality we see through our screens.

Featured image by Arlett Ramirez.

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