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Filtering beauty: The toxic dilemma of Instagram beauty

Instagram is an extremely popular social media platform. One billion people are active Instagram users, and that number is expected to increase as the year goes by, according to

There is a large beauty culture that is unique to Instagram. While many different social media platforms have similar content that surrounds the topic of beauty, Instagram has its own unique beauty and body image that is promoted throughout the site. Since Instagram is accessible for most people, the beauty standards being represented are gaining popularity.

The standards of beauty have changed over time, and yet it has always found a way to discriminate against others if they do not fit the supposedly ideal body type. Many beauty and fashion influencers are feeding this new age of Instagram body dysmorphia, which is not just dysfunctional for our generation but also for those which follow.

Instagram was first launched in 2010, and over the course of nine years people have become increasingly dependent on this social media platform. In a day, the average adult spends an hour on Instagram, although many Instagram users would argue that they spend more time than that.

Opening the Instagram app has become so normalized that it is sometimes the first thing we do in the morning. Scrolling, liking and posting are all things that start to lose value the more we consume. While we may hop on and off the app over the course of a day, the dependency we have for Instagram is a very real thing. Just last month, Instagram was down for several hours, which caused many to be upset.

My need for Instagram was intensified during this outage, and that is when I realized how dependent I am on this form of social media. At the root of Instagram is this false reality that people have become attached to, myself included. This false reality plays an integral part in the representation of beauty on the app.

Beauty standards and image are an ever changing aspect of reality. Instagram has altered the way we perceive beauty, especially for women. It would be idealistic to believe that we are free from the influence that Instagram has over our perceptions of beauty. Whether we like it or not, the Instagram body is something that has impacted the way we see beauty and worth.

It’s very likely that if I were to say Instagram Body you would have a distinct image that would arise from your subconscious. And it would be safe to say that I would also have a similar image. So what is an Instagram body? It was made popular by celebrities like the Kardashians and the fast fashion brand FashionNova.

The body type is what people might understand as an extreme hourglass or, using popular terms, “thicc” or “SlimThicc.” Feeding off of body insecurity, companies and other social media influencers advertise ways to achieve the Instagram body. Products like waist trainers are often promoted on Instagram, since they help users achieve that idealized shape by giving wearers a smaller looking waist. There are even videos on YouTube on how to get an Instagram body, providing viewers workout routines, how to pose or even how to photoshop Instagram photos using apps like Facetune.

The issue of body insecurity didn’t start with Instagram and will continue long after it. The Instagram body type is not the issue, it is how society continues to go through phases of fetishizing one body type while being hurtful to those who don’t fit into that standard.

While the Instagram body and those who promote it are contributing to the massive epidemic that is social media body dysmorphia, the one thing we can change is how we interact with it.

In many ways, Instagram is not just altering our perceptions of beauty, but of reality itself. The amount of time we allow ourselves to spend on Instagram and all social media is more time we give to a false reality. We make the choice to engage, to like, to comment, to share what we think is beautiful. So, in a way, we are adding to the issue by simply giving it attention.

In order to combat the issue of body insecurity there needs to be a change in how we present beauty and body image through Instagram. While it might be difficult society’s understanding of beauty, we can also alter how we perceive beauty. Although there is often more attention diverted to one type of body, it should not invalidate who we are as people. So many of us have become reliant on Instagram to give us some form of validation, but we need to unplug and find that validation we seek within ourselves. Unplugging is half the battle. Instagram needs to also promote body positivity by giving more light to all bodies and influencers that promote these ideals. Instagram is selling their version of the beauty and body standards, and it is up to us whether or not we participate in it.