By definition, beauty is described as “A combination of qualities, such as shape, color, or form, that pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight” (Oxford Dictionary 2015). I began undertaking this research by considering and asking myself and others what they considered to be beautiful. It is difficult to put a name on what beauty is, as many say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When surveying people, we noticed a trend in people leaning towards the idea that beauty is something that is natural rather than something you can construct. People seemed to believe that beauty is truth and that beauty evokes strong emotions. The main point of surprise for me is that nobody came up with the answer or lead us to believe that they thought beauty could be manufactured. People leant towards what was beautiful to them and lead their opinions from a very emotional standpoint. They would say they found the careless nature beautiful as an example. Nobody seemed to lead with the point that they agree with, or have an as an ideal, these media ideals of the perfect image we see across the newspapers, magazines and social media daily.
We wanted to investigate the social media app, Instagram, to see how beauty is perceived on this platform. Instagram is an online social media platform which allows users to upload and edit photos and videos to share with their followers and a wider audience through hashtags and their discover page. I have been using this app for nearing 3 years and during that time I have noticed how instagram seems to in itself glamourise everything from people to nature and food. In itself, #beauty has more than 84,000,000 posts and #nofilter has over 140,000,000 posts, leading us to believe that natural beauty is very prevalent within the app. This falls in line with our primary research where the people interviewed answered that beauty was natural. However, when looking at these hashtags, we can see that many of the pictures, if not the majority, actually do have a filter on them. This leads us to believe that outwardly facing we show something as naturally beauty, when it is actually manufactured. Why do we try and uphold our images to an unrealistic standard whilst still trying to maintain the natural integrity of these images? Perhaps it is because of unrealistic images fed to us by brands.
(Jenn’s Trends, 2014)
From this graph we can see that it is staggering quite the percentage of companies who adopt the social media platform. Not only that, they harbour a massive audience.
This leads us to believe that they are massive opinion leaders, the image they give out to the world is strived to achieve. Thus we see flocks of people trying to effortlessly copy this look in the way it is portrayed; as natural and beautiful as possible.
Sometimes in glamorizes darker subjects such as depression and self harm “The glamorization of self-harm and suicide on social media websites (such as Tumblr and Instagram) has led to an incorrect perspective of the seriousness of these disorders, as well as the desire to “fit in”, which is then triggering these tendencies in many susceptible users” (Storify, 2015). With people posting these disorders on Instagram and receiving moral support it is leading them to believe that self harm and depression is a way to fit in and that it is a beautiful thing. Thus, numbing quite how serious disorders such as these are.
So, in my piece I can discuss how many people believe beauty to be natural and how it is perhaps manufactured through the actions of people and corporations putting images out there to be admired and then replicated due to perceived social gratification.
Jenn’s Trends, (2014). Instagram Statistics for 2014 – Jenn’s Trends. [online] Available at: http://www.jennstrends.com/instagram-statistics-for-2014/ [Accessed 20 Nov. 2015].
Lindig, S. (2015). The 20 Most Relevant Fashion Brands on Instagram. [online] Harper’s BAZAAR. Available at: http://www.harpersbazaar.com/fashion/designers/a12215/top-20-fashion-brands-on-instagram/ [Accessed 20 Nov. 2015].
Oxford Dictionary (2015) Beauty [Online] Available from:http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/beauty [24 October 2015]
Storify, (2015). “Beautiful Sadness”: The Internet’s Romanticism of Self-Harm (with images, tweets) · rachelegore. [online] Available at: https://storify.com/rachelegore/the-internet-s-romanticism-of-self-harm [Accessed 20 Nov. 2015].