Ctrl Alt Del - Beauty Standards

By Jemma Heathfield

I love Instagram. I love curating content, sharing photographs and connecting with people all over the world. Yes, I use editing apps such as VSCO and KUNI, exploring new filters and effects. I’m all for discovering new apps, but this one? It crosses the line.

 

It upsets and disappoints me that there are adverts, so easily accessible, that encourage people to edit themselves. Making their breasts larger; reducing the size of their nose; drawing in a six pack.

The backlash about retouching or as it is commonly known; ‘photoshoppin,’ photos, has been in the news for since the advent of social media and in particular Instagram, and with so much talk on body positivity at the moment, it baffles me how an advert like this has been amplified - and made in the first place!

 

It’s scary how much of an influence what we see online can have on our self-esteem. Everyone can be affected by ‘standards of beauty’, especially young people who are most vulnerable to accepting this unrealistic version of ‘beautiful.’.

 

I have struggled with my self-esteem in the past year; I have been unhappy with my appearance, weight and have a daily battle with my mental wellbeing / health. So, you could say I’m vulnerable to this type of advert too. Thankfully, my instant reaction was, ‘how on earth has this advert been published?!’ and not an instant desire to download and edit photographs of myself.

 

Taking part in Cosmopolitan’s Self-Made Summit event last month, the whole weekend demonstrated strong themes of empowerment, self-belief and self-confidence. It proved that to be happy, you didn’t have to look a certain way, act a certain way or be a certain way. It was brilliant to be part of such a forward thinking and inspiring event.

 

“Plus size supermodel”, Tess Holliday was one of the many influential speakers over the weekend, and she spoke of her personal struggles when trying to make a name for herself in the modelling industry. She shared how she struggled with her self-confidence; she was trying her hardest to be herself and have confidence, but the model industry continually knocking her down time and time again.

 

Journalist Bryony Gordon ran the London Marathon 2018 with friend and model Jada Sezer in their underwear to show that there is not just one way to look. They ran to raise money for Heads Together, a mental health campaign set up by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry with the goal of ending the stigma around mental health. They did it to prove that you don’t have to be an athlete to run a marathon; to prove that a runner’s body comes in all shapes and sizes; to prove that exercise is for everyone, small, big, tall, short, size 8, size 18.

 

I hope that when I have children of my own, these kind of apps will not exist.

 

This is the start of a bigger conversation which we will be commenting talking more about in the very near future.