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How Instagram has Affected Beauty Standards and Self-Image

Nowadays, one can count on one hand how many stories or pictures are posted on Instagram a day without either a filter or makeup on. And because of this, Instagram has become an unrealistic sounding board for what beauty is supposed to be, a method of comparison. Instagram posts have become the thing with which one measures beauty. Yet God forbid you to post a picture where the sun isn’t hitting you just right, or your cheeks don’t have that “naturally” flushed look, or a picture where you’re not looking off to the side with a misty look on your face, unaware of a camera. Because the beauty one strives for now, is not only unreachable but spontaneous. Or God forbid the existence of a public picture that contains blemishes on the skin and portrays a normal human being with pores.

Because of this, studies have linked Instagram to depression, body image concerns, self-esteem issues, social anxiety, and other problems. While the purpose of Instagram may have been to combat loneliness and create unity between social human beings, it has managed to achieve the complete opposite. Instagram has now become the place many people use to show off only amazing, newsworthy, and socially acceptable aspects of their life. Because of this, we see worldwide confusion- a swarm of people that believe these posts and profiles mirror real life.

Between the angles, the filters, and the photoshopping, the picture of what is believed to be a “beautiful” human being is created. Or is it? Is this really what beauty is composed of? Filters and angles? Whatever the case may be, it is causing detrimental and harmful effects.

The incorrect use of Instagram hashtags has also been linked to low appearance self-esteem. An example of this is the trend #fitspiration, a trend used to motivate people to pursue a healthier lifestyle, except for the fact that this hashtag mostly showed extremely thin and toned women, which doesn’t necessarily mean healthier. The overrepresentation of these body types on Instagram is the reason why it is said that 1 in 3 women edit images to alter their weight or shape before posting photos on Instagram. The results of this are seen in an experiment published by the American Psychological Association, where they found that viewing retouched Instagram selfies, versus unedited ones, directly harmed body image in teenage girls.

It is possible that the same people affected by the inaccurate representation of beauty are spreading this disease by also following the trend of photoshopped, edited, makeup-filled pictures. If that is the case, this has turned into a vicious cycle that must be stopped for the sake of our women’s self-esteem. Let’s change the definition of beauty together.

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