Just one more
Ok just one more but with this filter, I promise this is the one! OMG, my nose. Maybe I need another one with more lighting because it’s too dark… Ooooh look at this one, my hair looks so gorgeous and my teeth are much whiter! But wait… Does this filter make me look fat? And someone call puberty, tell them to give my boobs back! Eventually, we settle on our latest and greatest picture, start comparing ourselves with other people and wait for the comments to roll in. Meanwhile, we can start the gossip about how perfect other influencers’ lives are and how everything about them must be fake. Which in most cases, actually is…
If I could just look at people reading the first paragraph, I can already imagine them nodding their heads. Do you realize how narcissistic we’ve become and so busy judging what’s on the outside that we forget what matters most? It’s just that by seeing all these perfect pictures online, we forget what it’s like to look like a normal human being. We do not have perfect symmetric faces and bodies, we all have “flaws”. Even though we know this deep inside, this inner voice is continuously working against us and making us doubt ourselves.
When I was young
I remember back in school when I was 13 years old, before the social media age. I would watch the 16-year-old “popular” girls from our school and think: “Wow, they are so perfect!”. Everything must be so perfect in their lives. Their hair was so soft and long, perfect brows, nails and make-up.
There I was with my curly hair, no nail polish and too young for make-up. Bigger hips and butt while all the other girls were skinny and had zero curves. Back then that was the beauty standard, I was like a Beyonce in a Paris Hilton world. I didn’t look anything like the girls at school and felt like I didn’t fit in, weighed too much and needed a nose job. That’s why I thought I had to change everything about me, just to fit in, changing the most beautiful things that made me unique.
Social media to the rescue
That’s where social media came to the rescue! With the rise of social media and influencers, a completely different type of beauty and role models became widely known and gained a lot of popularity. They come from all around the world and represented all different kinds of beauty. This made me realize that I am in fact pretty, I just don’t look like the typical European girl. The curls, brown eyes, bigger hips and butt, Egyptian nose (if that’s a thing?). Now I look back and notice how unique and cute I was.
Me, Myself and I
Now that we have different role models to look up to and compare ourselves with, it wasn’t long before we could start comparing ourselves with ourselves. In the beginning, Snapchat was a funny thing with the animal filters or a pizza guy. They were all innocent, funny filters… Until they weren’t. When you realize those filters make your skin look smoother and way cuter than without, everything posted from now on has to be with the perfect filter. Also, every social media platform realizes this and makes sure to have the most beautiful looking filters. What’s wrong with playing around with filters to change the way you look? Nothing…. Right?
Until you start realizing that nowadays you can look like the filtered version of yourself every day. Plastic surgery has become a commodity and girls start using make-up before puberty hits, just trying to be like the perfect images they see on social media. That’s when we try to bring the online world to the real world, even though it does not belong there. Then again, what happens if you changed everything just to match the current beauty standard and after 5 years this is completely different? Will you be seeing the doctor again?
Back to reality
I feel like the rise of technology and social media has introduced 2 worlds. An online world where you are the “perfect” version of yourself and you can only show off the good things in life, and the offline world where you’re actually a human being. I feel that these 2 worlds are causing a lot of personal struggles for many people, but the actual answer is pretty simple. The online world is NOT real, and the images they are posting are not just pictures, influencers know a thing or two about photography. The way you stand or pose, different lighting, clothes you’re wearing. They all have a huge impact on the outcome of the picture and can be a game-changer when posting the perfect picture. So how can we compare ourselves to a snapshot of a person where every variable is perfectly controlled and adjusted for the most beautiful picture? Then we haven’t touched the part where a lot of industries are benefiting from this. The beauty industry, social media platforms, plastic surgeons, … And in the end it’s just leaving us with a big empty feeling in the offline world that we’re trying to fix by changing ourselves.
Can’t I look good?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m actually not against looking out for yourself, going to the gym, being mindful about what you eat, shopping sprees, putting on make-up to cover your tiredness or trying to make beautiful pictures. I’m against comparing and feeling bad about yourself with something that is not a real rendition of life. If we just stop copying it and start seeing it like we see artwork, perhaps we can learn to appreciate it without feeling bad about ourselves. Because just like art, it’s an image created to look perfect. If we break that cycle I think a lot of people will realize that the offline version of yourself is the most beautiful one and you don’t need to change a thing!
Have you ever felt like you needed to change anything about yourself? If so, what would you change?
for The Narcist