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The Fall of Perfectionism in Social Media

Social media has significantly evolved since its introduction in the 1990s. The initial purpose of these platforms was to allow everyday people to share intimate moments of their lives with friends and family. Within the past decade, the use of social media moved from casual to perfection with the help of influencers and celebrities. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook users began to utilize these apps to develop a perfect image of themselves. People only showed the parts of their lives that could be easily glorified, such as social functions, family highlights, vacations, or flattering selfies. Consequently, social media was no longer used to show those who were close to you the more intimate parts of life. People wanted to achieve as many likes as possible with as many followers as possible. Everyone began to market themselves to an unlimited audience.

As more celebrities began to take advantage of these apps for marketing purposes, more people felt pressured to appear just as perfect. Aesthetic lifestyles, financial success, and dangerous beauty standards all began to blend. This takes a toll on society, and quickly becomes a difficult pressure for every generation to feel victim to. Of course, people forget that celebrities are paid to appear flawless, with the help of professional makeup artists, photographers, fitness trainers, dietitians, and photo editors. When social media became a primary source of entertainment for many, the epitome of perfection was thin, physically in shape, stylish, and financially comfortable. This causes people to only post their most conventionally attractive photos, often editing their face and bodies. Eventually, younger generations became fed up with these impossible standards.

People have felt the pressure of a perfectionist society for decades, and are becoming increasingly tired of portraying an altered reality. The introduction of TikTok into the social media world has fueled Generation Z and Millenials into showcasing their raw lives. Tik Tok is a social media app that was developed in 2016 and features short, entertaining videos. Instead of only capturing a flawless moment within a lense, users are encouraged to showcase their true personality through videos. This has allowed for influencers to produce videos about political opinions, comedy, personal interests, mental health, and body positivity. Social media is finally reverting back to showcasing intimate parts of life, the ones that are not always perfect.

For instance, Victoria Paris currently has approximately one million followers on TikTok and is now considered an official influencer. At first glance (particularly on Instagram where only photos can be seen), she seems to have a perfect life. Paris is conventionally attractive, privileged, and has become financially successful as an influencer within four months. However, this success was not created by only posting the glamorized components of her life. She often discusses her personal life, mental health difficulties, how to become successful as a social media influencer, and even features “Things I’m Struggling With” videos. Paris’s primary message to her followers is that she does not want to be fake on social media, and believes that followers deserve to have a realistic picture of her life as an influencer. She is battling the belief that celebrities are perfect, and recognizes the impact that high fashion and unrealistic celebrities have on followers. Users are interested in getting to know these influencers at a personal level, and more influencers are therefore speaking about sensitive topics on their platforms.

In other words, social media is reverting back to becoming more honest and casual. In addition to influencers such as Victoria Paris, the body positivity movement has also had an interesting impact on the social media world. Advocates are asking for celebrities and influencers to no longer edit their photos, or at least tell their followers if they are. Interestingly enough, there has even been a United States bill proposed that states that official influencers must have a disclaimer on edited photos. Celebrities that have become wealthy from prying on the insecurities of people are not happy about this proposal, even when others are directly promoting the bill. Others take a different approach, and instead photograph their own bodies to post on social media platforms. These photos include cellulite, body rolls, and beauty marks, all of which would be typically edited out by celebrities. The objective of the movement is to battle beauty standards and to show people what real bodies look like. Real bodies are not naturally airbrushed, or dressed in high fashion, or awake in a full face of makeup.

Overall, more companies are choosing raw influencers to promote their products because that is simply what younger generations are interested in. It is much more appealing to follow someone who is honest about their mental and physical health, in comparison to those who never reveal imperfect information and make their followers feel inadequate. Social media is retiring the idea of perfectionism, and is instead becoming honest with the public about the lives of those who seem flawless. So how should companies respond? It's simple, as long as your target market includes Gen-Z or younger. Take advantage of this moment in social media history by posting the raw, unfiltered, and laughable moments.

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