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Influencers are killing young girls’ self-esteem

Influencers are killing young girls’ self-esteem

Influencers are killing young girls’ self-esteem
February 29
19:14 2020

The summer after I turned 12, I discovered the influencer.

An influencer, if you don’t know, is someone whose job is to be on social media showing people how to live by example. They were still called “beauty gurus” then, and channels like “Vintage or Tacky,” or the pioneer Michelle Phan were all the rage. I wanted to learn how to do my makeup the way they did, the way I could never seem to do myself. These original pillars of “makeup YouTube” always had bright eyeshadow, glossy lips and perfect French tip manicures. I looked at my gangly, awkward middle school self and winced because I couldn’t look like grown women with full faces on. 

I am not alone in this feeling. Young girls of all colors and sizes have felt this way after a brush with the deceptively gorgeous beauty influencer. While YouTube is a potent tool, influencers now use Twitter, Snapchat and especially Instagram to market their flawless, amazing air-brushed lives to tweens who don’t know any better and can only assume this is the norm they are meant to strive for. Children are being set up to believe that life is a YouTube video, and we’re all just living in it

It’s not just beauty influencers working against the young girl of the 2010s. There is an influencer for every single facet of modern life. Lifestyle bloggers like Gloria Morales and Jessie Kass market messy-but-still-quirky lives of smoothie bowls and trips to Disneyland. Fitness gurus like Massy Arias and Kayla Itsines make the female six-pack look like an attainable goal instead of a hoax with good press. Seeing women on social media whose job is to have the “ideal” body isn’t good for anyone with a normal life and a normal frame

Fashion influencers especially have a particular power on the visual medium of social media— maybe because we find it easiest to change what we wear before we can change anything else about our appearance. Fast-fashion brands like Brandy Melville and Fashion Nova are among the most-marketed on Instagram as the trendiest of trends

I used to work at a department store at my local mall. The droves of younger teen girls coming into the store to buy Brandy Melville was a given on any day of the week. I would walk by groups of girls trying on tiny skirts and tube tops — “one-size-fits-all” garments that are marketed to teenage girls of numerous sizes, I might add — and hear them tear themselves down. They acted like looking anything less than perfect wasn’t even an option. For them, it was a matter of life or death. 

It was devastating to see. I saw myself in these girls, in their nervous fluttering around a mirror in a cramped, brightly-lit changing room and in them asking me if I thought they looked cute, wide-eyed and begging for validation. It broke my heart that they’d been warped the same way I had by the ever-churning machine of manufactured physical perfection. The monolith of the social media influencer had ripped these girls’ self-images to shreds without lifting a finger. 

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

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Breck Sunlin

Breck Sunlin

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1 Comment

  1. Green Leaf Air
    Green Leaf Air January 21, 11:55

    That was really an informative blog. Thanks for sharing

    Reply to this comment

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