The Age of The Influencer
We are living in a time where it is completely normal for twelve and thirteen year olds to be plastering pictures of themselves all over social media platforms. I admit, I am a frequent instagram user. I love to see what my friends and family are up to, as well as posting my holiday snaps and the occasional selfie with my friends or my cat. Social Media connects us to people all over the world which is one of the reasons why I love it. I am in contact with my family in Cyprus and have even made friends with other people my age all thanks to social media.
But unfortunately, social media can also have an extremely negative impact on its users. We are living in the age of the 'influencer'. Basically, an influencer is someone who has a huge following on social media, and uses their platform to advertise programs and products. Don’t get me wrong, there are many different types of influencers. Some really use their platform to do great things, and promote things such as body positivity and sustainability, but I‘m not here to talk about them. I’m here to talk about the influencers who do nothing more than utilise their ‘perfect’ body or their expensive possessions to get likes and make money. Some go on to create clothing lines etc, but it’s what they post that is the major issue here.
DISCLAIMER: I have nothing against people posting selfies, and images of themselves. I also have nothing against people using filters, and enhancing a place or a person's natural features. However, it becomes dangerous when pictures are so modified that they aren't even real.
When I look at the major influencer accounts that are taking over social media, I see bikini clad women, with fake tans and unrealistic bodies. The angle the photos are taken at make the person seem slimmer or ‘thicker‘ than they really are and create unrealistic expectations of beauty. I don't want to single out anyone in particular, but there are many many before and after photos of influencers who have obviously had work done to create their 'perfect' appearance. There is also lots of evidence online of influencers dramatically photoshopping their images, which shows exactly the type of influence they are making. I don’t care if they have a fitness brand, or product line that made them the influencers that they are, because all I can see is their outward appearance.
The women young girls are following and being influenced by on social media, all have bleached blonde hair, a fake tan, an excess of makeup on, and are wearing clothes that are barely there. No wonder eating disorders, body dysmorphia and mental health issues are so prevalent in society today. People believe that to get the likes, the comments, and the admiration they long for, they need to become the ultimate example of beauty that they can be. And personally, I don’t think that the women who pose provocatively at the pool or the mirror with barely any clothes on are the people that young people should aspire to be.
Tik Tok, a trending social media platform is am online community where people post short videos. You can find everything from hilarious pet videos, to travel videos, to motivational videos. But Tik Tok is also used primarily for people to make short dance routines which get copied and reposted by people all over the world. Some of them are funny, and inclusive and a lot of fun to make with your friends. But it makes me really sad to see that majority of the dance videos that go viral are done by hip thrusting men and women in tight and short clothing, half of which can’t even dance. What does that tell you about society today? This, as well as photos on social media, are sexualising young men and women, and it really saddens me to see that instead of seeing holiday pictures, and photos with friends and family on my social media feed, I am seeing more and more of the things I mentioned above.
I would love to become an influencer. An influencer that tells young men and women that you don’t have to be sexy and risqué to be beautiful. I would love to use an influencer status to tell people that they are beautiful the way they are. I want to advocate mental health, but instead of posting a perfect photo with a lengthy caption about the effects mental health disorders can have on people, I want to post an authentic photo. I want to be real! I want to post photos of myself in beautiful places living out authentic experiences with a smile on my face rather than a highly filtered model shot at a luxury resort. I would love to be an influencer who inspires people, and makes a difference.
Let’s use social media to influence people the right way. Let's use it to give people positive and realistic role models rather than social media puppets. Let's make social media an inclusive safe place for people to express themselves, rather than a place people are scared of being judged because their body may not look perfect or because they don't feel comfortable parading around in skimpy outfits. We can all help achieve this!