CW: This article discusses skin lightening which could be distressing to some readers.
Social media's prominence
Social media has become so prominent and ingrained in everyone's day-to-day life to the point social media would be seen as a need rather than just a want to the average person. This is due to being able to stay in contact with friends from all over the world or simply just keeping up with current affairs. All the way to becoming important for businesses. This is all just a finger click away making it convenient and accessible at all times. Who would have predicted this would happen so quickly while social media was in its infancy? No one. This begs the question. While social media brings many benefits, is this enough to justify the need for social media? Many people would argue yes.
The destructive side of social media
Is this however a good thing? Do we ever just stop and think about how much of an impact social media has on our emotions and the influence it has on us? One of the dark sides of social media is how much it influences beauty standards and reinforces the idea of 'Eurocentric beauty standards'. Another issue that has arisen due to social media has been the rise of 'Snapchat dysphoria'. This has been an issue for far too long in ethnic communities as a lot of people within those communities are made to feel they do not fit into society's ideal of beauty.
This leads to people feeling ugly or worse, inferior. This western standard of beauty is so prevalent on social media to the point even Snapchat filters reinforce this standard. Representation is important for people from minority backgrounds, for example, a young child seeing a person who shares similar features being celebrated would have an enormously positive impact on the child. This may stop a generation of young adults from conforming to Eurocentric beauty standards, preventing young adults from wishing they looked different to fit beauty standards or developing self-image issues.
People of colour are the most affected group by this. This is because darker skin tones are seen as an inherently unattractive feature in the lens of Eurocentric beauty standards. This has caused many issues in the ethnic communities. The fact lighter skin tones are deemed as attractive whereas darker skin tones are not. This creates many self-image issues for darker skin toned people which then leads to them buying products to lighten their skin. These products carry many harmful ingredients such as steroids, mercury and hydroquinone which puts their health at risk. These health risks need to be shown and put under the spotlight.
Women of colour spend more than $8 billion on bleaching creams worldwide every year. - The Conversation
Putting an end to eurocentric beauty standards
There are various ways of tackling this issue.
1. Supporting modelling agencies who put an emphasis on people of colour being at the forefront of their marketing campaigns.
One modelling agency is Choco Models. Darker skin tones are at the forefront of their brand. By supporting modelling agencies such as these, more people of colour are given opportunities to act as representation.
The 23-year-old started London-based modelling agency Choco Models in 2016. "That’s when I first noticed the effects of colourism in the black community," -Refinery29
2. Supporting brands who invest in representation
This can be any brand who show a duty to improve representation. Notable brands such as Netflix, Proctor and Gamble or Pinterest are examples of brands that have put in an effort to improve representation and put these communities in the spotlight.
Procter & Gamble (P&G) is continuing the conversation on racial bias by releasing a follow-up to its Emmy award-winning film 'The Talk.' -The Drum
3. Supporting friends who are people of colour.
This can be done by simply just being there for them. Supporting them on their journey as much as you can.
It’s our responsibility to learn about these issues; we shouldn’t depend on Black friends to raise these topics and educate us. -Hallmark
While the impacts of social media regarding body image may not be clear or visible, it still plays a very big role in self-image and how people view themselves. It also reinforces Eurocentric beauty standards and this harms people of colour as they do not fit this ideal. Everyone is beautiful in their own way and everyone should feel represented. By taking initiative, we nurture a generation and allow people to prosper.