Browse through the photos on Instagram and you may be wondering if you are seeing double. Many women seem to be conforming to an uniform look. Is this the new type of attitude social media is perpetuating: Why be you when you can be like all the popular, beautiful people, like Kylie Jenner?
The next time you post a new photo on Instagram, step back and ask yourself: Is it really you?
Much like outfits and haircuts, beauty is very personal. What works for your BFF may not look so good on you, and vice versa. But with everyone following the same Insta how-to videos and pics, it seems like we’re all morphing into one face (that looks incredibly like Kim Kardashian’s).
Social media influencers these days are starting to look like beauty clones. You know the look: a full pout, perfectly arched eyebrows, maybe some expertly applied eyeliner, faje lashes, coloured contacts, topped off with a healthy dose of highlighter and cheek contouring. With a few makeup brushes, a contour palette and some matte lip color, you can be well on your way to looking like everyone else.
Why, though, is looking like everyone else something we aim for? There are a number of factors that play a part, including a possible desire to fit in and a tendency to mimic celebrities and influencers.
In the days before social media, factors like geography and ethnicity defined our beauty habits were defined by. For example, she said, if you lived in a certain part of Asia, you may have used skin whiteners, or if you lived in France in the 1700s, you probably powdered your wigs.
Thanks to the internet, people no longer have to travel to see beauty trends from all over the world, nor do we need to wait for them to make their way to us. Because of that, we learn about trends that are popular in other parts of the world more quickly than we ever would have in the past, and we can participate in them. Suddenly the whole world is contouring their faces as a makeup standard!
The end result is a face that is no longer clearly defined by their ethnicity, their race, even their gender.
Read More: This Water Saved My Skin… Literally!
What we have now is a sort of aggressive version of what the ultimate in multicultural beauty could look like ― sharp cat eyes, full matte lips and well-groomed brows. In that sense, the look is accessible, which is perhaps why so many people online conform to it.
And speaking of conforming, people want to model themselves after social media’s most popular figures. Celebrities, especially those like Kylie Jenner, who has cemented a massive following on her selfie-filled Instagram account, “have really come to represent beauty trends.
At present, it’s all about the Kardashians and what some have called “The Kardashian Effect” ― i.e., “the Kardashians’ ability to influence consumer habits.” Look at Kylie, known largely for her transformation of unflattering thin lips into a sexy, luscious pout. So many people wanted the now-20-year-old’s lips for themselves that they were willing to physically harm themselves to achieve the look, even if it was temporary. Kylie’s influence over beauty trends has helped her create a billion-dollar beauty empire.
Obviously filters and editing apps play a role in this trend, too. Not only are individuals styling themselves like each other, but they’re also editing their photos using the same tools.
Then there’s the cosmetic surgery aspect. While not everyone is open about possible work they’ve had done, there is a chance people are enhancing their looks with needles and fillers. But perhaps this last point pales in comparison to the other factors, as Instagram filters let most get away with imperfections more so than the unfiltered photos of yore.
Read More: Here’s the Real Reason Why Your Selfie Sucks
The emergence of this homogenized expression of beauty can be problematic. On one hand, some people may find that conforming to a beauty standard can help with confidence and self-esteem. That confidence boost, though, will likely be short-lived, especially if you become increasingly obsessed with presenting an altered version of yourself on social media.
It should be noted that not everyone who participates in the current Instagram trends will find themselves sinking into a black hole of dissatisfaction with their own lives. It’s all about keeping things separated and not allowing your social media self define who you are.
Read More: Face the Day with Glow
Dr Low Chai Ling, founder of SW1 Clinic in Singapore, finds the trend of people looking the same “very disturbing”. “The pressure to look a certain way starts younger than ever”, she says. “Beauty should be about self-expression and empowerment. Now they’re just copying, there’s nothing original there anymore. It is sad.”
As Dr Low puts it, the fact of the matter is “we don’t all look alike”. What looks good on a celebrity (think Angelina Jolie’s lips) may not look good on yours. Preserving your difference may add to your unique identity and make you a more attractive person overall. Think of Cindy Crawford infamous mole for instance.
Read More: How to achieve Kylie Jenner’s Post-Baby Body
Another downside is the feeling of inadequacy when bombarded by images of such unrealistic ‘perfection”. “It’s not just that you see that picture of someone else looking perfect and you feel bad,” explains Dr Low. “Even for the person who posted that picture ― they have to contend with the gap between what’s in the ‘doctored’ photo and what they see in the mirror when they wake up in the morning.”
“Beauty should be about empowering one to make the best of their assets, not to morph into a version of someone else. Having slight imperfections don’t make you ugly, it makes you human, and girls need to understand that.”