Even the Beauty Industry Thinks Social Media is Ugly

If you’re a girl (or a guy) who has an Instagram, you know what it’s like to compare yourself to others. You’ve probably looked at the explore page and seen endless pictures of tan girls in bikinis with thousands of likes. You’ve seen celebrities, Instagram models, and girls you go to school with posing in perfect lighting, with just the right amount of filters (probably 5, all on different editing apps), posing over and over again until they have the perfect shot of their body. Their stomachs are flat, their arms are toned, and you’re laying in bed with your double chin comparing yourself to somebody else’s “perfect” snapshot. You probably follow a few “fitspo” accounts in a half-assed attempt to motivate yourself to look like one of those girls. Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 1.31.28 PM.pngYou read these accounts and their captions captions about restricting your caloric intake, lifting weights to burn fat, going to spin class at 6 AM, and running on a treadmill for hours on end. If you’ve ever stumbled across the hundreds of Instagram accounts like this, you’re not alone.

Maybe you’ve been scrolling through Instagram’s explore page and stumbled across a few beauty influencers. Maybe you’ve even seen Dani Mansutti’s. If you look at Dani’s Instagram from an outsider’s perspective, you’d see what she wants you to see: a beautiful, successful “YouTuber” (beauty influencer), with half a million Instagram followers, 1,491,182 YouTube subscribers, and 84,303,535 views on her public content. You’d see someone who looks like this:

Dani is beautiful, but she also has expensive cameras, ring lights, and the talent and experience to know how to take a good picture of herself. At least, that’s what I saw when I first found Dani on YouTube and Instagram two summers ago. I was just discovering my passion for all things makeup, and Dani was the first influencer I started following. I, like many others, would compare myself to her and the other girls I saw online. Her teeth are perfectly straight and white, her hair is long and beautiful, and she’s skinny. I wanted to look like her, which, let’s be honest, is part of the reason why I followed her in the first place.

In the two years since I started watching Dani’s videos and liking her photos, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to succeed in the online beauty community: maintaining a social media presence. At the beginning, I saw of her what she wants her followers to see. What I wouldn’t see is the actual person behind those posts. The person who reads every single hate comment about her smile, her eyes, her weight, her lifestyle, her voice, her…you get the point. What so many people fail to realize is that there is an actual human being behind these accounts…a human being with thoughts, emotions, struggles.

While Dani was the first YouTuber I started watching, I soon found many others. They all were the “same”; they fit the mold of a perfect social media influencer. Since I started following her, her content has shifted from only makeup and clothing videos, to more Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 1.41.26 PMserious videos, including: You’re UglyHating Your Body & Unhealthy Relationship with Food, and We Need to Talk About Depression. Dani’s been a lot more up front about what it’s like to be a “social media star.” In recent months, she has started speaking up about issues that she has had since starting her YouTube channel: depression, cyber bullying, and an especially negative relationship with her appearance and her body. She’s given us a glimpse into the not so beautiful side of the beauty industry, and she began posting photos with captions like this one:

In this caption, she says that, “things just feel fake. Scrolling through instagram, twitter, youtube for hours on end, I have to ask myself – why? I scroll and scroll, comparing myself, doubting myself, feeling inadequate. That’s not only appearance based – I compare myself to others who do my job, look at how incredible they’re performing, and then it makes me feel like a failure…When you start to look at social media from an outside perspective, and you see how addicted we truly are to it, I really hope it doesn’t damage us all in the long run.”

Social media is her job, yet it’s also driven her to get lip injections, fly across the country to get dental reconstruction surgery, and go on extreme fad diets that created an unhealthy relationship with food and working out. If social media is that damaging to the people who literally get paid to do it, then the negative effects it has on the rest of us have to be just as bad, if not worse. Dani’s job is my dream job, but there comes a point when Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 1.41.58 PMone’s mental health has to come first. People should never feel like they’re less than what they are based on a picture on an app…it’s ludicrous. But this issue is a very real one, and it’s prominent in all of society today. Dani is my favorite influencer because of her honesty–she doesn’t try to hide her struggles from her followers anymore, portraying a perfect life with no issues whatsoever.

Social media is not real life. Even the people who get paid to do it are aware of that fact, and it’s increasingly important for people, regardless of age, gender, or race, to remember that. It’s not real. It doesn’t matter. In an article in the New York Post, Mackenzie Dawson writes in more detail about how social media is destroying the lives on young teen girls, and I highly encourage you to read it.

Before you screenshot someone’s Instagram to send to the group text with you and your friends, or when you think something negative about what someone else posted, just remember that it actually does hurt the other person behind the screen. It’s not real life, and if you don’t like it, unfollow them or ignore it. Let people live their lives, because it’s an ugly industry. We don’t need to make it uglier. And if I want to start my own YouTube channel one day, I have to remember to have thick skin, take a step back, and always remember what’s important. Living in the moment and understanding the difference between what is reality and what is fake is increasingly important, and I’ve learned that from a beauty YouTuber herself. So thank you to Dani Mansutti for putting my insecurities into words, and showing me a different side of the industry I am so enamored with. And, honestly, if you see something online that hurts your feelings, try to deal with it like Dwight: Screen Shot 2017-09-17 at 1.57.58 PM.png

10 comments

  1. I think this topic is extremely relevant in today’s world!! I still find it hard to believe that there are people who actually get flown around the world to take exotic and beautiful pictures of themselves- and that is there only job….. It’s mind-blowing and I assume most of us know that it’s not a “real life” however many of us still continue to consumer and internalize these people and their lives. The society that we live has actually created a new industry in a way – essentially these influencers who “market” their lives to us… It’s crazy if you take a step back sometimes and realize what we are all buying into.

  2. It’s unfortunate that there are people who take the time out of their day to leave a hateful comment on someones post. It’s sad. However, this is what happens when you let millions of people see certain aspects of your life. You have to know that there are some people in the world who want nothing more to make you miserable. Knowing this, the person in front of the camera has to learn how to avoid reading the comments or at least learn to laugh at it. You can’t let someones words have too much affects on you. Confidence is key, who cares what people think? ☺️

  3. This topic is so important, so thank you for bringing it to light. It’s really sad that appearance is brought to the forefront of everything today. When I was reading an article yesterday that related to this, it said that over 50% of respondents to a survey said they never leave the house without makeup. This focus on appearance, in my opinion, is so damaging as you said. I don’t know what anyone could do to change this mindset, but I’m glad that some of these influencers are acknowledging that all body types are different and to love yourself. Kayla has done a great job of this, but do you ever think social media will be able to make this body-loving instead of body-shaming?

  4. This is a really strong blog post! This topic is extremely prevalent in society today and is affecting both men and women alike. I try not to follow many Instagram fitness blogs for many of the reasons that you discussed in your opening paragraph. Kayla Itsines is one of the few bloggers that I follow since her message steps away from the typical social media bubble and acknowledges that it’s ok to fail. I personally have not watched any of Dani’s videos but I am extremely interested in watching them and hearing what she has to say. I think one of the best ways we can change societal standards is through conversation, and this blog post does a great job of working towards that.

  5. I love this post! Bloggers and “Vloggers” are a huge part of social media. They are all over my feed. At first sight, their lives seem extremely unrelatable. They post pictures and videos of themselves looking perfect all day in cute, fashionable clothes, doing fun and exciting activities, but if you take the time to actually read their content, a lot of the time you realize they are actually relatable and just monitor what they share with the world. Their life is not as “perfect” as it might appear.

  6. The cynical side of me says this shift toward “real” feelings in many social media celebrities is really just another act that allows them to capture the sentiment of the moment. Certainly, as we all know social media is only an image projected, we have to become more sophisticated with the fake images we project.

  7. I’d have to agree that social media has taken a toll on who we are as individuals. Not only are we constantly trying to get the perfect picture, the perfect caption etc., but we are also seeing mostly only the good and exciting things of others’ lives. We are watching their showcase. And although they clearly have ups and downs like the rest of us, it clearly establishes a sense of insecurity within us when all we see are highlights.

  8. Thanks for posting, Colby! Definitely a relevant topic, and great use of photos and memes. To go off of Prof Kane’s point, I find Dani’s instagram post pretty ironic and ingenuine. Obviously the message she writes in her caption is well-intentioned, or at least we will give her the benefit of the doubt in the matter. However, I have to wonder how she justifies writing a post so critical of social media and the misperceptions it creates when 1. She uses an instagram photo of herself looking flawless and incredibly edited to convey her message and 2. Instagram and the world of social media is precisely the platform she is using to make her living. Thought provoking topic!

  9. In this blog you talk about how this instagram star works so hard to get the perfect picture, through surgeries, working out, proper lighting etc. I do not think that this presents a real human being because of all things she has done to alter the picture to get that perfect shot. But then you try to explain that there is a real person behind the picture, but this person isn’t being presented on IG phot. If people wanted to be treated like human beings, should they not present an image of themself that is an actual representation of who they are, and not there ‘adjusted self’?

  10. Going off what others have said, this post makes me think about the tendency for all of us to have our own micro-centers where we act like bloggers and beauty influencers for our networks. When we upload photos and create our online “identities” aren’t we all acting like Dani in a way? We are creating this (if not fake) then idealized version of our lives to show the online world. You don’t choose bad pictures for dating profiles. I can’t really fault bloggers/beauty influencers like Dani, because often I see a lot of what she gets paid to do within my own social media spheres. I am not sure if her shared experiences of the difficulties she shares as a beauty influencer will enact real change, or if our society as a whole will continue along this trajectory to emphasize a “perfect” life online.

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