Sunday, March 3, 2019

Is Social Media Giving Us Unrealistic Beauty Expectations? What is the Impact?

Nowadays it’s pretty impossible to find someone who isn’t on at least one kind of social media. The unique combination of Filipino culture, where everyone knows everyone else and sharing information is as natural as breathing, meeting with smartphones and data plans means that social media connectivity thrives in the Philippines.

In fact, Hootsuite and We Are Social’s Digital 2019 report shows that Filipinos typically spend about 10 hours and 2 minutes on the internet on average every day— more than any country in the world.

All this time spent online has its effects, and not just on your phone bill. Admit it, sometimes scrolling through your Facebook and Instagram feed brings a twinge of emotion, and not always good. In between pictures of someone’s dog or birthday party, it’s likely you’ve seen your friends living lives that look more exciting than yours. Bustle quotes a study by French researchers that reveals that spending more time on social media comparing ourselves to others is more likely to make us more depressed.

According to studies compiled in this essay on Medium, only thirty minutes of media can change the way a girl perceives her body. In the Philippines, where people spend an average of 10 hours, the impact of social media on self-esteem might be even more extreme. Young girls looking at beautiful women online might feel even more insecure about themselves than ever before.

If you’re on Instagram, you’ve probably heard of the term “social media influencers.” These are people becoming celebrities online who are quickly changing the landscape of what’s hip or cool, and they’re as accessible as a quick tap on the ‘Follow’ button. This BNY Jeans post on ’50 Instagram Influencers to Follow in the Philippines in 2019’ shows just how many top influencers there are in the Philippines, and there are probably thousands more.

Looking at the perfect, glamorous lives of these influencers as they travel around the world has a definite impact. Younger and younger girls are beginning to use makeup, and more boys feel insecure about their bodies. When faced with so many ideals of beauty and wealth on your phone, it can be hard not to feel like you’re not up to par. That’s why more young people now are spending more money so they can mimic the lives they see online— whether it’s flying around the globe, buying tons of makeup, eating at expensive places, or buying the latest pair of sneakers, you can be sure that the cause is something along the lines of, “I saw it online.”

However, if social media has its downsides, it does have its silver lining as well. Due to the “democratization” of information, and how easy it is now to set up your own accounts, some influencers out there are challenging beauty standards. This Women in the World article rounds up just five influencers who are changing the idea of what it means to be beautiful, but there are sure to be many more.

What we see on our phones isn’t always the reality, and sometimes we forget that these posts are actually carefully curated to show all the ups of life without the downs. It takes hours of undocumented effort to get that perfectly made-up, stylish shot, and no one really looks that good just getting up. So with all things, take what you see on social media with a grain of salt. You might not realize it, but you’re actually doing just fine.


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