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Mirror, Mirror on the wall, Who’s the prettiest of them all?

Social media is a landscape where beauty reigns supreme, and perfection seems just a filter away. It has always taught people to erase all flaws. We live in a world where flawless faces, sculpted bodies, and easily curated lifestyles flood our screens, leaving us captivated and craving the unattainable. However, this enticing attraction conceals a darker truth- a Satan who perpetuates unrealistic beauty standards, wreaking havoc on our self-esteem, mental health, and collective perception of beauty.


From a young age, we are all told that we need to love ourselves, but how is anyone supposed to love themselves when social media has set the bar so uncomfortably high?


As people of the 20th century who wake up to reels on Instagram first thing in the morning, we are often fascinated by influencers with no hair on their bodies, no pimples, fair skin, and flat stomachs. Even though we believe that we are mindlessly scrolling through such content, our subconscious is soaking it all up, and before we know it, those perfectly formed bodies have become the standard by which we measure our looks.


Social media platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, have transformed into arenas of competition, where the number of likes, comments, and followers determines one's worth in society. Young people resort to altering their appearance in any way possible using Photoshop, filters, plastic surgery, and makeup to gain recognition like celebrities and influencers.


Moreover, social media often fails to interpret beauty's true meaning. It does not present the central ideology that "At the end of the day, beauty is so much more than the superficial; it is truly about the content of your character." Instead, it promotes carefully curated posts that depict individuals at their best, showcasing seemingly perfect lives. These posts offer only a fraction of reality and deliberately omit moments of vulnerability and inner beauty.


We can also relate to the fact that, when utilized correctly, social media can promote positivity. The French government recently took a significant step towards promoting body positivity by passing the Anti-filter bill. The bill makes it mandatory for influencers to disclose the use of filters and Photoshop and bans the promotion of plastic surgery. With more and more influencers and even social media platforms promoting body positivity and self-acceptance, we can see that young people are starting to love themselves the way they are.


Prableen Kaur Bhomrah is an influencer with over 313K followers who makes unfiltered and raw content around skin and body positivity. "Being comfortable and happy in your skin takes a lot of courage. It took me a lot of time to be comfortable in my body and realize that if we don't love ourselves, we cannot expect other people to make us feel good about ourselves. There have been times when people have commented horrible things on my posts. It affected my self-esteem and confidence, so I decided to create unfiltered content to inspire others to be confident and beautiful. In the end, only your opinion about yourself matters and nothing else."


We often hear the terms Fatphobia, skinny-shaming, whitewashing, and exclusivity while discussing body positivity, a recent hot topic in the fashion industry. The industry has come a long way, from Sabyasachi featuring plus-size models in shoots for fashion weeks to various big brands diversifying their clothing sizes and designs for all sizes.However, body-positive influencers like Diksha Singhi are bringing serious changes to the game. With her photos and videos of workout sessions, she creates content that openly calls out fat-shamers by challenging fatphobia.


"My mother and sister were my mirror to the idea of body positivity. Just because someone does not fit into society's version of 'beautiful' does not mean they are not. The fact that so many people connected with my story when I started sharing it on social media made me realize it wasn't just my narrative and inspired me to create more content. All plus-sized people are not necessarily 'lazy' or those who don't work on their bodies. It is okay to be in a particular body shape and wear whatever you want. Always make the negativity around you motivate you, not make you feel small."


With a strong Instagram family of 52.4K followers, Aishwarya Kandpal is a multi-talented digital content creator who wears many hats as a videographer, director, and unfiltered skin and hair care content creator. "We have a lot more to do in life other than just looking a certain way. We are all skilled in some manner; having a strong voice of our own and our looks should not deter us. We are not wired as humans to cope with hatred healthily. So, the best way to not get affected by negativity is to ignore it. I started my skincare journey by documenting my story of severe acne and the experiments people should not do with it. I knew that something like this needed a louder voice, so I have remained on the pathway of my no-filter projects. 


To combat the damaging effects of social media on beauty standards, we need a collective awakening. Senior Consultant Psychiatrist, Manas Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Dr. Alok Kulkarni, said, "Young people often get influenced by social media, which can result in comparison and ensuing feelings of unworthiness, inferiority and low self-esteem. In some cases, this can result in clinical depression. People with diagnosed body dysmorphic disorder are especially at risk. Striving to meet these beauty standards can lead to distress and unwanted anxiety. It can also cause significant social and functional impairment."


A collective effort is required to combat social media's detrimental effects on beauty standards. Individuals must recognize the artificiality of the images they consume and consciously engage with content promoting diversity, authenticity, and self-acceptance. We don't owe perfection to anyone. So Love Yourself! Because you are enough the way you are!


 


Edited by: Soumya Parija


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Tags: Beauty depression Social media Reality self acceptance self-love Body image Filters Body dysmorphia



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