Filtered Beauty of Life
by Michelle Jang
A morning stroll at Bethany Beach in an itsy-bitsy-bikini that complements an edited flat stomach and a two-inch thigh gap. Breakfast at a colorful corner in Paris with a full display of fattening, yet #foodporn worthy, Belgium waffles and chocolate. Vibrant sunset on the last day of family vacation to Hawaii. Dynamic concert with no memory left behind. People capture the seemingly perfect moment with an iPhone, slap enhancing filters on, blur out acnes, slim down face and body, come up with a brilliant caption that is both purposeful and humorous, post it on Instagram, hope for the best, and voluntarily wait to be judged, rated, and liked.
Countless adults discuss problems caused by teenaged girls’ inappropriate use of social media. However, what they neglect to consider is that our obsession over social media is not so superficial or one-dimensional. Media lectures parents that their children’s reluctance to communicate is caused by selfies, the quantity of likes or comments, and lack of self esteem. I, as a teenaged girl with two years of experience with Instagram and a PhD in Psychology of Girls, disagree with the shallow understanding of grown ups, who never even had a firsthand experience with social media in their youth. Teenaged girls’ obsession over social media and the portrayal of themselves on new mediums is neither dumb nor superficial.
The biggest misunderstanding of adults regarding social media is that teens use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., to communicate with our friends. Contrary to their belief, the main purpose of social media to observe people, who are not strictly limited to close acquaintances. Sally observes the amount of likes the new student from French class receives and takes it into account in determining whether or not to invite the new girl to her lunch table tomorrow. Sally observes that it only took twenty-three minutes for a picture of her sixth grade rival in a revealing dress at a party (which she was not invited to) to reach one hundred likes. Sally observes an account of a cute boy from yesterday’s school party, partially out of innocent curiosity about the attractive stranger and partially to take mental notes about any girls currently flirting with him. A social media account tells about seventy-five percent of a person. The bios, captions, locations, tagged friends, photos, and number of followers contain his/her age, school, areas of interest, relationship status, close friends, number of friends, and “popularity.”
Social media is the most efficient way of proving to a vast audience that one is having a sweet, sweet life. For instance, Martha slaves away her entire weekend grooming herself. She gets her nails and hair done, gets a spray tan only to turn orange, eats half a cup of Greek yogurt to fit in a tiny two-hundred-dollar dress, cakes her face with three coats of foundation that does not necessarily match her skin tone, and places herself on six-inch high heels. When her date, whom she has texted maybe twice in her life, finally arrives, Martha awkwardly wraps her hand around his waist to take approximately seventy-two photos. Martha carefully picks out a single photo where her face looks the least distorted, defines her contour, slims down her arms, expands her butts’ reach, slaps on ‘sierra’, and posts it on Instagram with a caption saying, “Thanks for the wonderful night, Freddie! #hoco2k16.” When the likes finally hit two hundred in less than an hour, Helen feels that her time, money, and effort devoted were all worth it after all. It is materialistic proof that more than two hundred people know how great her life is.
Most girls feel pressured to appear perfect, especially in a relative way, and therefore search for approval from others. They feel a constant need for comparison without realizing that people only reveal the best portion of their lives on social media. They blur all the ugliness out and hide anything short of flawless underneath the thick coat of filters.
Nicole Edmunds, "Collage," photo