Social media has taken over society, the products we buy and the places we visit are promoted to us by marketing campaigns shared by influencers on social media. This marketing technique has led to the success of many e-commerce brands- most famously fast fashion websites- as influencers share their products to their followers in a bid to boost brand sales.
What is an influencer?
Social media influencers are individuals who have created a large following on social media platforms, most commonly Instagram and TikTok. Influencers create their own content based on a specific niche, but the most popular content out there involves fashion, beauty, photography, fitness and travel. A majority of us follow these influencers and become susceptible to their ideal life and try to keep up their changing image. Their job is based off their appearance because brands only want skinny models to promote their clothes but for their followers being exposed to images of the ‘ideal body’ can often trigger negative feeling towards our own lives and impact how we look at ourselves, especially our bodies.
Fitting the mold
Of all the content we see on social media, a majority of the images have been edited to look desirable to their audience and to gain more engagement from brands who want the “perfect body” to promote their products. Even though it’s common for influencers to be photoshopping their photos, we still look at them and compare our bodies. In recent years it photoshopping apps have became more accessible to general public by introducing editing applications available to download on our devices, compared to a few years ago when mainly professional photographers were able to retouch our images. Photoshopping apps are just as toxic as social media exposure because one we start retouching our images we see ourselves looking different and we begin to desire that look in everyday life.
For new social media users, mainly teenagers, it isn’t often known that the images online aren’t real and they strive to achieve the “perfect look” represented by influencers. These photos often lead to low self esteem because don’t realise the perfect look doesn’t exist yet still try to achieve it. This leads teenagers and young adults into unhealthy diets and talking about plastic surgery and aesthetics from a young age. The most common mental health problems in young girls is eating disorders and low self esteem which is thought to be caused by the promoted image of females in the media, the increase in eating disorders can often be linked to the rise in social media platforms. The problem does not only stay with females, in fact over half of teenage boys have admitted to comparing themselves to photos they are exposed to online, which again are photoshopped. However, this is still hope change can be made. Across the world people are protesting against brands, influencers and celebrities being able to post digitally edited content online without declaring that they have edited the images in a bid to make social media safer and more honest to protect the younger generations. The change has already began in France where any edited commercial image must have an “photographie retouchée” (edited photograph) warning, and anyone found to be breaking these rules will face fine worth up to 30% of the ad.