A call for social media realism

Third Year History student Eve Burke-Edwards discusses the unrealistic expectations that social media has set for millenials.

Social media has influenced life for Gen-Z more than any other platform. We are exposed to social media and its effects, whether we conform to them or not - it is almost inescapable. It provides us with instant access to every corner of the world and every corner of our friends, family, and even celebrities' lives. The amount of access we now have to each other's lives should result in a greater sense of reality, yet what we are continually presented with is hyper-perfected versions of ourselves and our lives.

The most insidious aspect of social media, particularly on Instagram, is that it supposedly reflects everyday life when it clearly does not. We can compare the augmented self being put forth on social media to the use of Photoshop and airbrushing techniques in magazines, as both have ulterior motives to present a 'flawless' figure. This, however, overlooks a fundamental distinction; on social media, physical perfection is normalised and expected, whereas in the media people are more prepared to acknowledge that it does not reflect reality.

A post shared by Emily Ratajkowski (@emrata) on

A post like Emily Ratajkowski's instagram post as shown above for instance, promotes unrealistic expectations and body image ideals.

As there have been backlashes challenging the use of techniques such as airbrushing, for example the #CantRetouchThis campaign and celebrity advocates figure heading the movement such as Kate Winslet, we can see a widespread challenge to this trend. The same campaign has not been made relating to social media, in fact, it is a largely unrecognised issue. Sure, we can admit that it's probably doing damage to beauty ideals and standards, and understandably damaging the confidence of young people. Nevertheless, a change in attitude has not been made.

That's why we need refreshing voices challenging this on the internet. Instagrammers such as model Emily Bador (@darthbador) and musician Morgan Mikenas (@i_am_morgie) are leaders of the body-positivity movement. They use the platform of Instagram to challenge the expected flawlessness, exposing body hair, stretch marks and aspects of the self many try to hide. Emily has said "If you give a shit that I or anyone else has stomach rolls, scars, eczema, armpit hair, etc then I have less than no time for you". Morgan has expressed similar sentiments: "Accepting and loving your body and your 'flaws' because you know they are what makes you who you are".

"So many years of education yet nobody ever taught us how to love ourselves and why it's so important." What we believe, becomes reality. When we believe we aren’t enough, we will let insecurity run our life. This is a reminder that YOU ARE ENOUGH! YOU are strong enough to face anything life throws at you! YOU are intelligent enough to conquer anything you dream of. YOU are worthy of love and respect from yourself and others.. and if people don’t accept you for who you are, FUCK EM!!👋🏼👋🏼 There will always be one person who will always accept/ appreciate the person you are, and that person is YOU!💖Please treat yourself well today and always, you are worthy.🌞#beyou #bodypositive #selflove #feelgood #befree #bethechange #spreadlove #namaste #gratitude #happyfriday

A post shared by Morgan Mikenas (@i_am_morgie) on

Emily and Morgan both have a large and growing following, nearing 200,000 followers combined. This suggests that the movement is growing in popularity, but still we need more voices like theirs to bring body-positivity and social media realism into the public consciousness. It's a small step in the direction of widespread self-acceptance and self-love, attitudes that are valuable but hard to attain. Most importantly, these two women serve as inspiration to those who do not feel comfortable in themselves yet and challenge the industries in which they work.

The pressure for everyone to be creative, fashionable, beautiful or funny, has never been more present. One's persona and character are constantly on display for criticism. Why then would you present a version of yourself you aren't happy with, when that can be easily corrected through curating an image of yourself and a mere tap on the screen?

There's nothing necessarily wrong with curating an image of yourself online. We should just be striving to make that image more honest, as that will be better for yourself and others in the online community.

Featured Image: Unsplash / Toni Hukkanen


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