It is a surprise to absolutely no one that women feel an insurmountable pressure to adhere to unachievable beauty standards. The 90s catwalk waifs have a lot to answer for, but now we’re set in competition with technology, too. From FaceTune to Photoshop, the “beauty standards” set on magazine pages and Instagram posts are manipulated and airbrushed to create images that bare no semblance to the real thing.
And this isn’t just a cultural and commercial phenomenon that affects us civilians. Even successful models, like Chrissy Teigen, are feeling the weight of this insane ideal.
Speaking at Beautycon in Los Angeles, she said: “There have been times I’ve cried to John, where I felt like I would never have ‘that’ body.
“Everyone has a butt now, and curves, and a little waist, and that’s not me.
“I’m jealous of those bodies and I want that, but I also feel like I really want to be cool with my body because of people like you guys.
“That’s why I don’t post many make-up selfies, because I don’t feel anyone knows what a real face looks like anymore, and it kills me that we have to completely wash a face or body out for it to get likes.
“My old ass will go on social media, and I will look at the Photoshopping, FaceTuning, and the apps — and everything that goes into creating what is now a hit Instagram photo — and I feel insanely inadequate.”
Slowly, we are seeing a shift away from photo manipulation to a more relatable form of advertising. On Instagram and Facebook, for example, brands such as Rimmel have tasked beauty vloggers with displaying their before and after views of the products. Cosmo UK and Refinery 29 does the same, using their editors to give a glimpse of what products really look like by trying them on themselves and posting the results online.
Just how many years into this new marketing strategy do we have to be before we start to see a change in attitudes towards beauty ideals? Will we see a rise in self-esteem reported among young women as a result of it? And what about the businesses using these techniques?
We have a hunch they’ll see a rise, rather than decline, in sales by ditching the glossy campaigns in favour of something a little more down to earth.