Is social media forcing us to look perfect?

As Instagram grows, so does your makeup collection.

A survey carried out by Girlguiding UK asked 1906 young women about their lives on social media. Results showed a third (36%) of 7-10 year olds said people make them think the most important thing about them is how they look, and a quarter (23%) of girls aged 7-10 said they need to feel perfect.

Instagram is photo-sharing site, that allows anyone to promote their lives, gym-routine, or body. Young girls are becoming tranquilised in the amount of likes they’re getting, and how flawless their picture looks. This obsessive nature can control how, and when their pictures are uploaded to get the most interaction, this can include posting pictures at ‘peak’ times of the day, keeping a theme through their Instagram, and #hashtags.

‘Inspirational’ celebrities such as  Kylie Jenner upload flawless pictures for her fans to see. Her Instagram brings in 99.5 million followers, making her pictures become circulated around her fans accounts. The images she uploads are flawless, and portray her ‘perfect’ life.

But, why is there so much pressure to be perfect?

We spoke to Rhiannon Tapp, a psychologist that has studied the pressures of social media said: “Qualitative research carried out on the impact of social media among adolescent girls indicated that social media content triggers the process of social comparison and reaffirms societal pressures on women to have an ideal body or perfect appearance.

“The consistency of appearance based content on social media has lead to adolescent girls evaluating their own self-worth through comparisons to unrealistic standards of beauty found online. Overall, this research demonstrated that through the processes of normalisation, peer influence, and social comparison, young girls felt obligated to alter their health behaviours (use of the gym) in attempts to reach body standards promoted on social media.

“In doing so they often had a negative relationship to their sense of self and with physical activity. The findings of this research suggest that policymaking should harness the body positivity movement to generate social media initiatives which move the focus away from women’s appearances towards content that improves their sense of self-worth and self-efficacy”

She also said: “Health and beauty have largely become synonymous for women in Western society. Typical content on social media reflects this ideal by promoting a specific body type for women.

How women should look and behave are norms dictated through the medium of social media and these have impacts on women’s experiences with health behaviours such as diet and physical activity. The issue that has developed from this pressure is the unhealthy and negative relationship that can be made with health behaviours and the impact on self-esteem.

Following the growth of this awareness in research, social media use has been linked to the development of negative body image for women in recent studies.”

Women often feel increased amounts of pressure to have the “dream” figure, and with thanks to Instagram, it means people can follow routines, and aspire to reach the shape they want. Celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens promote their figures on their pages for fans to see.

Makeup pages and accounts are there to show girls the unrealistic perceptions of makeup, yet the skills used to perfect these looks are encouraging girls to splash out on expensive makeup brands and post their version of the flawless pictures.

Anastasia Beverly Hills is one of the many makeup brands that promote this. The page shows everything from tutorials, to the latest products you need, but showcases the look young girls aspire to recreate.

Alexandra Sinclair, a makeup artist from Cheltenham said: ‘I do feel that social media can put pressure on people to be perfect, but it’s more down to the individual on how they feel.’

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