by Su Wen Liew
Social media was once a place to make the world increasingly interconnected. Now, it is has become a platform to fabricate social status and hierarchy. As much as we’d like to believe that the majority of us have removed ourselves from this pattern of delusion, we all in some respects become engrossed with illustrating the perfect image of our lives to fulfil the needs and wants of, not the public, but our own falsified allusions built up by social media itself. This is especially evident in terms of the creation of private accounts as a subset of our main accounts, which defeats the sole purpose of social media’s initial intentions: sharing experiences and memories to whom we are close to.
Sharing our lives with such a large audience may not necessarily be negative, as some users dedicate their accounts towards their specific interests or truly mean well for the community, such as promoting important causes or providing support to those in need. However, we are still subject to recurrent patterns of self-affirmation and a cognitive need to frame our lives as something desirable. Unfortunately, we are connected to a generation that promotes the idea of beauty through air-brushed skin and bottleneck shaped bodies.
Yet, we know that these prejudices exist, but still fall envy to them whilst subconsciously building up those very images ourselves. These habits become an addictive hobby, or even a normalised trend, undermining reality itself by substituting it with fiction. This thinly veiled scope, despite its apparent nature, garners the attention of thousands, presenting its audience with a false image that idealises a specific portrayal of beauty that ironically ceases to exist. By doing so, Instagram and other platforms which concentrate solely on physicality, nurtures a generation that critiques their lives and appearances in a way that strips them of their personality. This very market of selling bodies and looks, or even dignity, for likes, promotes a fabrication of beauty standards that should not be bracketed into a deceiving singularity.
However, there are accounts which do indeed promote personality rather than the metaphorical weight of beauty, such as Jameela Jamil’s ‘I Weigh’ movement. Endorsing the weight of someone’s attributes to society and their own personal qualities is a much healthier option that views people as three-dimensional and human. Yes, it is arguable that appearances do form the basis of our initial impressions, but long-term and meaningful relationships are based on our interactions with others.
If we realise that these depictions, only infer what ceases to be true, then those growing up and everybody else integrated into the media, will learn how to see the reality behind it all. As reiterated many times before, beauty should be recognised from who we are, not what we appear to be. Though this trend will persist, awareness is key in advocating concepts of beauty as something unconventional, whereby women and men alike, are not dehumanised by severely constrained speculations.