Recently I went over everyone that I followed on Instagram. I quickly realized that I followed loads of celebrities and influencers whose content I didn’t particularly enjoy and which didn’t make me feel good. I followed them because they were famous and beautiful, not because they were interesting. I quickly unfollowed them all and could instantly see and feel the difference in my Instagram feed. No longer was my feed full of tens of incredibly beautiful, ‘slim thick’ young women who were perpetually on holiday somewhere glorious and in a high-cut bikini. Instead, I saw things that made me happy and fueled my interests.
After doing this, I came across pages dedicated to showing what these influencers really look like – without Facetune or Photoshop (@beauty.false). This difference was being pointed out in personally published, perfect photos versus shots taken by paparazzi who hadn’t been paid by the influencer to take flattering photos. My eyes were immediately opened to how much these girls alter their images to seem like they have a smaller waist, a bigger bum, and bust, thinner arms and legs, etc. We know intellectually that celebrities and influencers alter their images all the time, even if that’s just through strategic posing. But having it pointed out in front of me nailed home just how pervasive the trend of posting the ‘perfect’ photo is, as well as how normalized editing your photos has become even for the non-famous, with teenage girls using Facetune to change their face shape and erase acne.
I, then, found more Instagram pages dedicated to showing the small non-invasive-invasive cosmetic procedures that are massively common among those in Hollywood as well as among influencers (@igfamousbodies). These were mostly minor tweaks to make the eyebrows higher or cheekbones fuller. And again, this made me realize just how altered these girls are to look the way they do. Up until then, I had assumed that, other than having a really good facialist, it was their natural beauty that allowed them to look so heavenly. It angered me that I had felt so inadequate for so long when I was comparing myself to women who didn’t naturally look the way they do now. Small non-invasive cosmetic procedures are now so common-place with the rich and famous that we have become accustomed to not even really seeing them anymore, and believing them when they say it was ‘puberty’ or ‘drinking water.’
I take no issue with cosmetic procedures and surgery, but I do take issue when it’s hidden and denied. It would be massively appreciated by women everywhere for celebrities and influencers to merely be honest about the work they’ve had done, both with major and minor cosmetic procedures.
It might be idealistic to believe that it would not make people think less of them. But what it would do is take away so much of the expectation that’s placed on women to live up to an ideal that’s not only naturally unachievable but also massively expensive and, therefore, out of reach to the average person. Huda Kattan (@huda) is incredible at this, being transparent and honest about all procedures she has and even recording them being done. Knowing that she has work done doesn’t mean that she’s less beautiful, only more honest, and her beauty more achievable.
To think that someone just has ‘good skincare’ or ‘god-given genes’ or has gone through a, frankly, unbelievable ‘puberty’ makes millions of young girls and women feel perpetually inadequate about themselves. If celebrities and influencers truly wanted us to like them, to endear themselves to us in a way that makes us trust them, to not just look at them to feel shame about our beauty, then they would tell us they had a bit of lip filler. They would feel no shame about wanting to feel beautiful, but we would know their cosmetically enhanced beauty was not just ‘good genes’ but a little bit of help too. Maybe then, we wouldn’t feel so bad when we look at our Instagram feeds, but until this happens, I won’t be following influencers whose only content is their ‘perfect’ bodies.