Social media is as wonderful as it is frustrating. Often, we joke about how grateful we are that Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok weren’t around when we were kids. Oh, the shenanigans we could have gotten into! Not to sound too cliche here, but times are a-changin’! Obviously, technology has a big play in that. We are no longer waiting for snail mail letters and once a month phone calls to our family members. Dialing long distance is hardly a blip on the radar anymore. Getting film developed is a thing of the past. It’s all instant. Instant connection. Instant communication. Instantly shareable. Not just with family and friends, but the whole world, strangers included. Again, as wonderful as it is frustrating.
Do you know what else is changing? Social norms. Those things that once were not okay are beginning to become okay. Did you know in the 1960’s it was not okay for a belly button to show on TV? It’s true. Mary Ann and Ginger of Gilligans Island, and Jeanie on I Dream of Jeanie were allowed to show their midriff, but not their belly buttons-that was too scandalous! Rules like that still exist in media, but they are becoming more and more lenient. There is good and bad to this, like everything else. And there are certainly many ideas of what is “right” and “wrong”.
But something I think we can all agree on, is the amount of exposure we have to altered images. It is rare that you see an unfiltered, unedited image on social media and certainly never in a magazine or on a billboard. According to plasticsurgery.org, the rate of cosmetic procedures performed in the US increased from 17.7 million procedures in 2018 to 18.1 million procedures in 2019. Let me put this into perspective for you, EVERY SINGLE PERSON (according to the 2020 census) in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas could have had a procedure completed and still been short of 18.1 million. Did you know that plastic surgeons are beginning to get requests to help their patients look like they do on Snapchat. Due to the filters and easy edits that can be applied before an image is released, people are losing sight of what real beauty is, and that it even exists.
There are a few brands that are beginning to change this. Brands like Dove have sponsored campaigns to celebrate real beauty and women’s empowerment for many years. Aerie, a brand from American Eagle, is committed to using models who don’t fit the stereotypical model mold and does not retouch those photos. Knotty Knickers runs ads with images of real women that are seemingly untouched. As in, you see images of women with stretch marks, freckles, scars, and cellulite. These brands are just a few examples of leaders that are reminding us that we set our own standards of beauty. That real human beings do not look like the filtered image that is posted on social media.
As we are exposed more and more to the doctored images available on social I encourage you to check yourself if/when you begin to compare your real-life body, to someone else’s edited image. I encourage you to teach your daughters to do the same. I encourage you to support the brands that remind us that we are not less than because we don’t have airbrush makeup, special lighting and trained photographers, photoshop experts, and thousands of dollars of procedures. I encourage you to embrace your purest self, including your tiger stripes and beauty marks. And surround yourself with the people, brands, and images of those that do the same. Maybe, we can get those social norms to change in a way that supports real women, real images, and real life.
If you're ready to share some of these thoughts with your daughters, but you're not sure how, these conversation starters might help you!
I do not have any affiliation with Dove, Aerie, or Knotty Knickers. These are just brands I have noticed for the way they are showing up in the world. Do you know of other brands that are akin to these? Share them below!