Identity in Communities and Networks

Faking Faces: Instagram’s role in propagating unrealistic beauty standards


The fundamental goal of this paper is to understand how online platforms support self-presentation and impression management in the context of Instagram profiles. Emphasis will be placed on the extent to which these online platforms propagate an ideal body image through influencers and platform affordances such as filters and third-party editing applications such as FaceTune. The various articles and research which explores this very subject have reiterated time and time again that users of social networking platforms are susceptible to immense pressure to fit and act out current beauty ideals. This discussion stresses how the emergence of popular Instagram influencers such as Karla Jara have economically benefited from propagating an ideal beauty standard and online identity, that many (including themselves) will find impossible to maintain without the use of filters, editing apps and even cosmetic surgery.


With the emergence of Web 2.0 and with that social media networks – individuals are able to find a platform in which they can curate their own identity within a virtual space. This idea of identity curation can be linked to the theory of self-presentation, which is described as “behaviour that attempts to convey some information about oneself or image of oneself to other people” (Baumeister & Hutton, 1987). Boyd (2017) highlights how the motivation of self-presentation, and with that impression management are elicited by the use of contextual cues from their surrounding environment. The continuous need for individuals to constantly manage how others perceive them through “altering their manner, appearance and setting in different social scenarios” is done now more than ever with the emergence of online platforms (Yang & Liu, 2017).

In regard to online platforms which not only support self-presentation and impression management but encourages this behaviour, Instagram comes forth as a clear frontrunner. The photo-based social media application which launched in 2010, stands out amongst others due to their emphasis on visual images and videos, making it the perfect playground for social interaction, self-expression and escapism (Siebel, 2019). Pearson (2009) underlines how the performance of our online identity manifests within the imagination of the user first, but it is then brought to existence by the help of social media technologies and tools. This is made apparent through the success of “influencer’s”. This title describes social media users who hold the ability to influence their (often very large) following and generally earn an income through an array of brand deals (Fastenau, 2018). The existence and success of these influencers serves as an example of how a careful curation of one’s identity can then be commodified for economic benefit. This ability for celebrity and influencer accounts to reach the masses not only commodifies the likes and attention of everyday users but exposes them to idealised beauty standard that influencers propagate. Therefore, repetitive exposure to these beauty standards then serves as “critical clues” for other users to alter their identity, in order to present what’s deemed socially appropriate. Extensive research on this subject affirms that although social media platforms support impression management and self-presentation, they also propagate an ideal body image through influencers, filters and editing applications where the continuous effort to maintain one’s identity performance can be detrimental to one’s mental wellbeing.

Self-presentation and Identity Management in the Online Space

Siebel (2019) describes our current society as one that is “technologically-centered” where the continuous consumption of communication technology affordances is done so daily. This is evident in the volume of users who continue to consume and create content on Instagram alone, which exceeds a staggering 1 billion users on a monthly basis (Siebel, 2019). Through exploring various content and Instagram pages, we inevitably expose ourselves to hundreds if not thousands of heavily altered images of celebrities and influencers alike, without realizing the detrimental effects it has on our perception of self and construction of our online identity.

Siebel further elaborates on our relationship with Instagram as being driven by five primary social and psychological motivations which consists of social interaction, archiving, self-expression, escapism and peeking. Social interaction as a motivative factor is one that is expected since the concept of social media platforms is to have an online space where people can “gather, socialize with peers, and help build the culture around them” in what we call a networked public (Boyd, 2017). The idea of a “networked public” share similarities to that of an audience, which is fundamental for the practice of identity performances and impression management, where users are able to learn and alter their behavior through the way their social network or “audience” response to them. Furthermore, the motivation to “peek” on Instagram aligns with an individual’s need to adopt critical cues. The exploration of other Instagram pages and profiles helps shapes the user’s perception of what is socially appropriate, ensuring that they can adjust their online identity accordingly.

Remaining social and psychological motives relevant to impression management, involve self-expression and escapism. In regard to self-expression tools afforded to users by Instagram such as filters, music, gif’s among other features help support an individual’s self-presentation and curating their online identity, for example when posting an Instagram “story”, users are able to manage how other’s perceive them through the use of filters to alter their images and various gifs, emoji’s or music to help express their personality and aesthetics to their audience. In addition, filters can also offer a form of escapism from reality. Where the use of augmented reality filters can turn you into various animals or mystical beings, however the most popularized filters are those which ‘beautify’ the features of the user. When wanting to escape from the realities of their appearance, the use of filter’s among other body altering application like FaceTune, allows individuals to craft an ideal digital body (Boyd, 2017). Therefore, the choices individuals make in managing, maintaining and altering their online identity does reflect motivation for self-expression or escapism, however, we cannot ignore the influence of others within our social networks, as it is fundamental in driving the alteration of self-presentation in order to fit what’s socially acceptable.

It’s a beautiful life… But only if you are

If you are on Instagram, chances are that you may have come across an influencer or two. Influencer’s have emerged online as a form of subconscious marketing which commodifies the likes, shares and attention of those within their publics (Fastenau, 2018). Where the ingredients to many Instagram influencers can be broken down to a charismatic personality, a distinctive brand or personal aesthetic and in most cases (and sometimes most importantly) their attractiveness.

Influencer’s represent how the maintenance of one’s online identity delves further into the concept of impression management being a performance, as for many it is now a job where they must maintain a certain image whilst promoting brand deals that some may not even truly endorse. This serves as an example of how impression management can be done through carefully selecting, filtering and capturing images in order to create the most positive impression, which is then greatly rewarded with affirmation, due to this growing economy of “likes” and “attention” (Seehafer, 2017). However, there is economic value in attention, where 2017 saw a staggering 12.9 million dollars in brand sponsored influencer posts, where with every dollar spent on Influencers, marketers saw an average of $7.65 in returned earned media value (Hamer, 2014).

Karla Jara also known as ‘Karla J’ is one of Instagram’s most popular influencers, with 1.3 million followers, she is expected to get anything from $1,000 to $10,000 USD or more per Instagram post (Lieber, 2018). The main appeal of her brand stems from her fashion sense and beauty, where the success of influencers such as Jara can be due to the existence of “lookism” and “attractiveness bias” in our society. Although the use of beauty is not one that is new within the marketing industry, the combination of attractiveness mixed with relatability and openness showcased on social media platforms, offers a sense of credibility and community within these influencers networks, thus adding to their power to influence (Fastenau, 2018).

(@therealkarlaj / Instagram)

With the saturation of influencers that flood our Instagram page, many who explore and consume their content would pick up critical cues which drives them to alter their own online presentation. A study conducted by Barker and Rodriguez (2017) found that social media serves as a platform that amplifies and propagates beauty ideals, where one subject describes their experience with social media as “conforming to what society wants you to look like so you get more likes because they see that as pretty”. This is an example of how Instagram and with that influencers, propagate and amplify beauty standards that many feel they must meet in order to be socially accepted.

‘Fixing’ or ‘Faking’ Our Faces with Filters

In a bid to fit within what is socially acceptable and to emulate Instagram users who are rewarded with economic benefits and affirmations, many individuals turn to the use of filters and body editing tools to embody beauty standards that are propagated by influencers. A common strategy used when presenting oneself online is the practice of posting “self-taken images” or what is universally known as “selfies” (Mills et al). The act of sharing personal pictures has become the “default mode” of Instagram’s cultural practices, where many post images with archival motivations, so they can preserve and share moments (Dijk, 2008). Although “selfies” are deemed as something quite recreational, it has become one of the most important elements of impression management. We are seeing individuals spend a tremendous amount of effort in ensuring that their images reflect the identity that they have so carefully curated online. Seeing the social and economic benefits bestowed upon influencers who repeatedly affirm these idealized standards of beauty would push many to utilize “filters” and editing tools to enhance and alter their features, in order to embody these beauty standards.

The emergence of filters can be linked to the augmented reality dog filter that features a pair of dog ears and nose on the temporary photo-sharing app “Snapchat’. Filters which were once quite gimmicky and fun have evolved into filters that emulate beauty ideals, where filters such as “HOLY NATURAL” and “Perfect Face” on Instagram, emulate various forms of plastic surgery including smaller noses, lip filler, brow lifts and smoother skin (Manavis, 2019).

The process of internalising and subconsciously absorbing these beauty standards projected by filters and influencers play a major role with user’s obsession with face filters. Melissa Atkinson, who is a Psychology researcher at the University of Bath further elaborates on this phenomenon where she states how “we have this desire to match or achieve those kinds of ideals that have been promoted to us” therefore, the ability to use filters and instantly “fix” your face offers an instant form of gratification (Manavis, 2019). This is inextricably linked to one’s need to belong, where a common social norm around acceptance is to be complimented on your appearance, therefore, when someone receives affirmation when they’re using filters, an issue arises when you aren’t using one.

Catching Catfish: The deception of identity play

The pressure to adopt current beauty standards can lead to users reshaping and altering their online selves in order to cater to these ideals, however, the question arises whether the utilization of filters and body editing apps is deceptive to the audience (Smith, 2017). Donath describes the role of identity as fundamental for users to effectively belong to virtual communities, where knowing the identity of those within your network is key to connectedness. Traditional definitions of the virtual “catfish” describes an individual impersonating a different person online, often utilising images of other people to deceive others (Smith, 2017). However, current social media tools such as filters and body editing apps afford users the ability to completely curate their online identity, where these platforms have birthed a new form of “catfish” used to describe a person who heavily edits and beautifies images of themselves to meet beauty ideals, often to the point of unrecognition.

The growth of online “catfishes” is prevalent in the emergence of Instagram pages such as “@celebface” and “@s0cialmediavsreality” which are pages dedicated to exposing popular celebrities and influencers on their cosmetic surgeries and extreme image editing. The intent of these pages is to show the everyday user that the images we see online are merely curated performances and not a reflection of reality. A reoccurring influencer featured on these pages is Karla J, where the images below show the vast differences between her appearance in videos and in unedited images, in comparison to the way she chooses to present herself on her own page. Where it is clear that editing apps were used to slim her waist, arms, jawline and nose.

(@s0cialmediavsreality / Instagram)
(@celebface / Instagram)

There is a growing sense of frustration many develop when their offline selves don’t reflect their online selves. This has caused a number of individuals to seek plastic surgery in an attempt to embody the beauty standards they have learned was beloved in society. As seen below, influencer Karla J has opened up to her YouTube followers about her use of cosmetic surgery including rhinoplasty, jaw slimming and lip injections. Cosmetic surgeon Dr Max Malik stresses upon the direct link between social media and women who come to his practice asking for bigger lips and smaller noses, in a bid to emulate their filtered selfies (Manavis, 2019).

It is clear that social media is pivotal in shaping our “front page portrayal” which describes the curation of images to shape a user’s identity online, and this is most prevalent in the role of an influencer who must maintain a certain image (Seehafer, 2017). However, there is an air of deception one feels when learning that an influencer you follow does not look the way they portray themselves to, which can be problematic for those that endorse certain beauty products for weight loss or skincare, when in reality their own bodies may not reflect the beauty ideals that they project unto us.


The ability for social media to amplify beauty standards cannot be ignored, along with the ability for people to reward those who fit into these standards through likes, followers and even economic reward in exchange for attention, leaving individuals with a scale to measure themselves against. Online platforms such as Instagram support the preservation of the online self as well as impression management through affordances such as filters and editing tools which allow people to replicate and see themselves fit within these beauty standards. Although a nice filter may add a boost of confidence to its user, feelings of insecurity can occur once they are faced with their unfiltered self, often causing distress in many and motivation to get plastic surgery in order to reflect the image they’ve curated for themselves. All in all, in today’s day and age we are facing a problem of false idealism, where the constant consumption of images that are perfectly formed, posed and edited have become a standard by which we measure everything else, when these standards are simply not real.


Barker, V. Rodriguez, N. (2019). This Is Who I Am: The Selfie as a Personal and Social Identity marker. International Journal of Communication. Vol 13. Pp 1143-1166. Retrieved from 1932–8036/20190005

Baumeister, R. Hutton, D. (1987) Self-Presentation Theory: Self-Construction and Audience Pleasing. Theories of Group Behaviour. Retrieved from

Boyd, d. (2017, January 16). Why Youth Heart Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life.

Celebface [@celebface] (2019, October 21). Facetune or good posing tricks? [Instagram post] retrieved from

Fastenau, J. (2018). Under the Influence: The Power of Social Media Influencers. Crbox. Retrieved from

Dijck, J. (2008). Digital photography: Communication, identity, memory. Visual Communication, 7(1), 57-76.

Donath, J. S. Identity and Deception in the Virtual Community. MIT Media Lab. Communities in Cyberspace. Retrieved from

Hamer, M. (2014). The financial benefits of being beautiful. The New Daily. Retrieved from

Jara, K [@therealkarlaj] (2020, May 10). Instagram Profile. Retrieved from

Lieber, C. (2018). How and why do influencers make so much money? The head of an influencer agency explains. Vox. Retrieved from

Mills, J. Musto, S. Williams, L. Tiggeman, M. (2018). “Selfie” harm: Effects on mood and body image in young women. Department of Psychology. York University. Vol 27. Pp 86-92. Retrieved from

Manavis, A. (2019). How Instagram’s plastic surgery filters are warping the way we see our faces. New Statesman. Retrieved from

Pearson, E. (2009). All the World Wide Web’s a stage: The performance of identity in online social networks. First Monday, 14(3).

Seehafer, D. (2017). #NOFILTER: EXPLORATION OF INSTAGRAM AND INDIVIDUALS’ CONCEPTION OF SELF. North Dakota State University of Agriculture and Applied Science. Retrieved

Siebel, B. (2019). Insta-Identity: The Construction of Identity through Instagram. University Honors theses. Retrieved from

Smith, L. R. Smith, K D. Blazka, M. (2017) Follow ME, What’s the Harm? Considerations of Catfishing and Utilizing Fake Online Personas on Social Media. Journal of Legal Aspects of Sport. Vol (27). Pg 32 – 45. Retrieved from

S0cialmediavsreality [@s0cialmediavsreait] (2019, October 2). Instagram VS Reality [Instagram Post]. Retrieved from

Yang, J. Liu. S.(2017) Accounting narratives and impression management on social media, Accounting and Business Research. 47:6, 673-694, DOI: 10.1080/00014788.2017.1322936

27 replies on “Faking Faces: Instagram’s role in propagating unrealistic beauty standards”

Hi Nur,

Your paper was really interesting, and I definitely agree with the arguments you are making; specifically about the detrimental impacts of editing apps.

Do you think the reason for popularity of image editing apps is that social media now is becoming purely based on visual affordances, and written content can be overlooked? Could it be proposed that captions are removed all together, as visual content should be enough to construct identity?

Whilst you have focused primarily on image editing apps, and accounts that highlight this enhanced visual representation, my paper also includes influencers who are part of the ‘body positivity movement.’ They are creating a resistance to this ‘perfect photo’ perception commonly associated with influencers, and I would encourage you to have a read:

I look forward to your feedback on my questions.

Hey Mia,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper. Your questions are extremely thought provoking and not questions that I had initially thought of when writing this paper so thank you for highlighting these themes. To answer your first question, I honestly believe that there is an undeniable link between the growing popularity of editing apps and the fact that social media is driven by visual affordances. I believe this can be linked to ideas such as ‘lookism’ and the fact that people are rewarded on social media through likes and even economically (as we see with influencers), and because we as a community are picking up these social cues that “the way you appear is detrimental to your acceptance in society”, this influences others to utilise editing apps to edit themselves into their idealised self.

I think it could definitely be proposed that captions are removed all together, as I believe more emphasis is generally placed on the image itself than written content. However, many do still utilise captions as a way of self-expression, for example, how some people use captions for commentary of their image, jokes, inspiring quotes etc. So, although I think there is a stronger power in visual affordances to construct identity, I do feel that written content shouldn’t be entirely overlooked.

Thank you for your suggestion! Your paper definitely seems as though it takes a different approach to mine as it highlights how social media can be used to combat ideal beauty standards and I’m definitely excited to read!


Hi Nur,

Thank you for continuing the discussion, and answering my questions! I agree with your responses, and like how you referenced the idea of ‘lookism.’ Your take on captions is quite interesting, and it will be interesting to see the role of captions in future.

Hello Nur ,
Thank you for your interesting and informative essay .I really enjoyed reading it since Instagram is one of my favorite platform to spend time on,i couldn’t agree more with you on the different arguments you point out .I would like to know your thoughts about instagram filters which can also be use as entertainment?
On another note i would like to invite you to read my paper which is related on Instagram too

Hi Nur
I found your paper very interesting and you had very good arguments that i agree with. I found your topic of beauty on Instagram a very important one in today’s society. I would be interested to know your opinion on phones that have the built in beauty filters. Do you think this will be the new thing with the phones that come out? and Do you think this also drives the stigma of Beauty standards on Instagram, just like filter apps?

I also wrote about Instagram, focusing more of self identity but i did use Instagram’s beauty communities as my examples. I would be interested to know you thoughts on this, if you are interested. Here is the link


Hello Jade,

Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to read my paper! Your questions are extremely intriguing and ones that I had not considered for myself when writing this paper. It has become increasingly interesting to see how the technology that is emerging in the market aims to continuously attend to our “needs” in technology, much like the earlier phones were installed with camera’s, calculators and whatever else we need. I believe that it’s only natural that these same companies and devices begin to adhere for our need to beautify and modify ourselves in order to maintain the identity we have constructed online. So consequently, Yes. As long as the need to beautify ourselves continues, I believe this will definitely become a new feature within many future devices. And much like filter apps and editing apps like FaceTune, anything that would modify and beautify our images in order to fit these beauty ideals is adding to this stigma and standard of beauty than many feel they need to meet, as these sorts of filters erase the natural, raw and human elements of our images. Thank you for those questions, I definitely feel that I have limited my research to that of just Instagram and it’s affordances, where looking at the macro aspects of the technology industry would definitely have enriched my paper.

Thank you again for taking the time to read my paper, I look forward to reading your evaluation of Instagram and it’s construction on identity.

Warm regards,

Hi Steffi,

Thank you for taking the time to read my paper and for your positive feedback, it is much appreciated!

Regarding you question on my opinion about Instagram filters as a mean for entertainment, I definitely feel that there has been a growth of Instagram filters for entertainment value which I believe can be linked to 1) the increase in criticism of “plastic surgery” inspired filters and 2) the ability for Instagram users to create their own filters. Where we are now seeing filters that allow us to play games, appear to be out of space and many more which highlight the augmented reality aspect of filters. This can be due to the fact that Instagram users are now able to express themselves and the type of filter’s they would like to see used within their own communities. However, even those used for entertainment aren’t free from features which alter our appearance e.g. the “gibberish” filter that challenges users to translate various sentences of gibberish, still has features which smoothen our skin to appear “flawless”.

Thank you again for that interesting question and thank you for your paper suggestion! I am looking forward to enriching my knowledge of Instagram and its portrayal of users.


Hi Nur,

This article was incredibly insightful. The idea that Instagram filters are a method of escapism is new to me but you put into words something we’ve all noticed and perhaps felt before! What are your thoughts on this being a connection to mental illnesses such as body dysmorhpia and eating disorders?

Hi Tatenda,

Thank you for your kind words and I’m glad that I could add some new insights into your emergence of this topic! And that’s a great question and one I feel I could have delved more into within my paper and recognise the limitations my paper has because of this. But I definitely agree on the fact that these filters and propagated beauty standards have an adverse effect on our physical wellbeing. Within my paper I touch base on the fact that influencer Karla Jara felt so compelled to live out her ideal self she has gotten and documented various plastic surgery procedures she has undergone. Within her videos along with many other influencers who have gone under the knife, she attributes part of the reason to her mental health and her psychological connection to wanting to alter her looks. An interesting paper on this topic is one from Germov & Wiliams 2017 “A Sociology of Food & Nutrition: The social appetite” and within their research, they stress on the fact that body ideals influence a woman’s relationship with food. Where it has an inextricable link to whether a woman feels “entitled to eat” or not, which unfortunately leads to a string of diet in order to appeal to these thin body ideologies. And I feel that this is also applicable to the themes within my paper, where Instagram is increasingly becoming a platform which propagates body ideals, therefore it is unsurprising to me and frankly, expected that this would effect the psychological and physical relationship of those who choose to consume these topics.

Thank you again for these great questions! What are your thoughts on this?

Warm regards,

Hi Nur,
I definitely agree with you. These days however, I belive that we are taking steps in the right direction to combat these issues. Conversations about social media are genreally not complete without discussing wellbeing and mental health. We as consumers have been urged to take care of ourselves. It’s such a large platform so whilst Instagram is responsible for this, I believe that we ourselves are responsible for what we choose to consume. There are so many body positive pages on Instagram but we just have to do the research to find them instead of blindly consuming what comes our way.

Have you ever heard of a disorder called Orthorexia? It’s fairly new in the medical sphere but essentially its obsessive healthy eating and in my reading I found it very interesting to discover that this became widely recognised after a health and wellbeing influencer suffered from it and shared her story. It’s shocking to think that even with the right intentions the pressure that is placed on influencers can lead them to this. It makes me think of Karla Jara as you mentioned her in your paper. Whilst at the end of the day she made the decision to have plastic surgery on her own, you have to question wether we are complicit in influencing influencers to go to such drastic measures to maintain this fantasy image that we enjoy consuming for the sake of an aesthetic feed?

Kind Regards

Hey Tatenda,

Thank you for engaging in further conversation with me, your response and the points made within them are very well articulated and I completely agree! When re-reading my paper after reflecting on your question and responses, I definitely feel I’ve limited myself in stressing on the fact that although Instagram has provided the affordances to amplify unrealistic body standards, at the end of the day we are responsible for what we choose to consume for ourselves. In fact, Instagram even offers features such as the “not interested” button in order to change the algorithm of what you see on your explore pages (I personally find this button highly effective when wanting to “clean out” what I see on my socials that may effect my mental well-being).

Prior to your comment I have never heard of Orthorexia, and I am thankful that you have brought it to my attention! It is frightening to see how easily one can fall into a disorder when believing that they are eating healthier than ever. It is also fascinating to see how Instagram has contributed to the amplification of this. When reading into this, I found a 2017 paper by Pixie Turner and Carmen Lefevre which discusses the inextricable link between Instagram use and symptoms of Orthorexia Nervosa, where they found that no other social media platform had this effect on the disorder. This only reaffirms the implications that social media (particularly Instagram) can have on psychological wellbeing. Thank you again for educating me on this topic, my paper would have definitely been more enriched with this information.

Additionally, I found what you said about us reflecting on whether we are complicit in influencing influencers to reach measures such as plastic surgery, an extremely fascinating point. I completely agree that we as consumers play a role and are complicit in encouraging influencers to fit these body ideals. Within my paper I discuss the emergence of Instagram pages such as ‘celebface’ and their mission to “expose” influencers and celebrities on editing their images. I would love to know your thoughts on whether pages like these are doing something positive for the mental well-being of others or whether pages like these will only make influencers feel less than, because they feel that their natural image is unworthy. All in all, I believe that whether we are complimenting influencers or “exposing” them we are contributing to the objectification of women and how they perceive themselves and their identity, where as a society we must accept our complicities and be better.

Thank you again Tatenda for raising these issues, this has been such a thought-provoking discussion and I look forward to continuing this conversation with you.

Warm regards,

Here is the link to the article:

Hi Nur,
Great topic, you have chosen an interesting topic, and, addressed it correctly. I have highly appreciated the fact that you have focussed a lot on how much people are directed to editing apps or by using filters to be able to fit in. You are right regarding this, because nowadays on Instagram, it is so rare to see pictures which are not edited or which do not have filters. As you have mentioned above, ‘Snapchat’ filters are the new trend as well, helping in ensuring that the picture they have taken is appropriate for their feed or ‘image’ they are projecting on social networks.
Your paper was of great interest and helped me to learn about other aspects of this platform.

I would like to invite you to read my paper which talks about the negative impacts that unrealistic body ideals, created by SMIs have on youngsters. If ever you are interested to share your views here is the link:

Have a nice day,

Hi Maria,

Thank you for taking the time to read my paper, I am glad you found my topic of choice interesting and found some new knowledge within it! You are completely right in saying that “it is rare to see pictures which are not edited or which do not have filters”. I feel that the use of image altering is not one that is new as we have seen in countlessly in traditional media such as magazine covers. However, what is interesting is the fact that it is more accessible now than ever to edit and alter our images and the very literal touch of a button, where the line between what is fake and real is blurred, as this has become our new normal.

Thank you again for your kind feedback and I look forward to reading your paper!

Warm regards,

Hi Nur,

Firstly I would say that you have created an interesting piece of art, I love it! Indeed, when scrolling online, it is quite rare to see a photo uploaded without any photoshop or filters added. Each individual want to display his or her “ideal self” online to have more followers and likes. Do you think that they are becoming victims of the SNSs?

Again, I really like your paper and I look forward to your response.

Stay safe,

Hi there Marie!

Thank you for taking the time to read my paper and for your kind words, I am so glad that you have enjoyed my paper. You question is one that is quite intriguing, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that individuals are victims of SNS’s but more so that they are a victim to societal standards and pressures to look a certain way, where even before the emergence of social media platforms or even technology overall, there were still pressures to stick to certain trends that have been popularised. However, it is quite evident that SNSs support and feed into these trends, as the popularity of these sites, amplify trends and beauty standards to millions of people daily as well as offer them to tools to meet these standards. Really great question! Thank you for asking me that and I would love to know your thoughts on the topic too!

Warm regards,

Hi Nur,
Your paper is of great interest and worth to read. You have really defended your main argument with facts which i really loved it. Instagram is a platform where pictures speak for itself. We are in a generation where we need to portrait ourselves differently on Instagram. For example, myself, I never post any picture without proper editing on photoshop! The balance of color to match my feed and the tone of my skin! Every single detail matters before i post something on Instagram. Its really very rare to see pictures without any photoshop and filters except for those doing photography who posts “before” and “after”.
I invite to you have a look at my paper and share your honest opinion.

Kind regards and be safe
Katoosia Gerard

Hi Katoosia,

Thank you for taking the time to read my paper and your kind words, I really appreciate it! I definitely agree with your statement that “we are in a generation where we need to portrait ourselves differently on Instagram” where we are often putting our best self forward in order to shape and curate the identity we want for ourselves. I appreciate you bringing to light your own relationship with Instagram and editing software’s to enhance one’s photo to fit the identity we want! I feel that it still takes a lot of honesty to admit that you photoshop your images, although almost everybody does it, I believe that many still feel the need to “catfish” others and appear as though the images they represent are somewhat 100% the truth. And as I’ve discussed in my paper, this then causes these same individuals to reject images of themselves which are not enhanced. But thank you again for bringing your insights and personal experience with identity construction and Instagram. I look forward to reading your paper.

Warm regards,

Hi Nur,

You have chosen are really interesting topic, it was a pleasure to read your paper.

The examples you have provided are great evidence to support your argument. It’s such a big issue with social media technology allowing for editing and filters which amplifies unrealistic beauty standards for users. I know many insta influencers and even my own friends who heavily edit their photos, and I am guilty of it also.

It is problematic as the issue can stem psychological issues and lead users to undergoing cosmetic surgery to achieve the ‘filtered look’.

A great paper Nur 🙂


Hi there Nathan,

Thank you for your kind words and for taking the time to read my paper! I’m glad you found my topic of interest. I definitely agree that it’s becoming a big issue as the lines between what is real and what is altered starts to blur. I appreciate your honesty with the fact that you have edited your own images, and you are not isolated in that instance as I have to. As I’ve highlighted in my paper, I believe that many individuals are afraid to admit the ‘fake’ elements of the images they portray, and would prefer to present images and allow others to believe that this is their authentic selves when in reality photo editing is more common than one may think, as you have addressed with your examples. As someone who is ‘guilty’ of editing their images, how did doing this make you feel? I would love to know your experience with this, if you are comfortable with that.

Warm regards,

Hi Nur,

I very much enjoyed your paper and agreed with a lot of your arguments. the mass creation of editing apps have certainly added to the stigmas surrounding body image. As they became more accessible to everyday consumers so did the expectation of people to be using them, masking their true selves.

While body positivity and un-filtering photos are being embraced by more and more people sought after, I’m wondering if you think the unrealistic beauty standards on social media can go away completely over time? Or if they are here to stay as long as programs and apps that allow you to change and alter your appearance are easily accessible?

My paper is also in this stream and would love to read your opinion:

Have a great day!

Hi there Leah,

Thank you for taking the time to read my paper, your very kind and I’m glad you enjoyed it! I definitely agree that the accessibility of these editing apps makes it easier for the everyday social media user to edit their images, you could say it’s so common, it’s almost expected.

That’s a great question and definitely one that I feel is important to address when discussing the role of identity construction and its prevalence in social media platforms. In short, I don’t believe that unrealistic beauty standards would go away completely over time regardless of whether technologies such as Instagram and editing apps like FaceTune continue to exist. I believe this is due to the fact that before the existence of social media platforms and even technologies as a whole, beauty standards within different cultures have always existed. This is highlighted in an interesting video by Buzzfeed (I’ll include the link below) which shows how beauty standards have shifted throughout history (dated back as far as 1069 B.C in Ancient Egypt!) and continue to shift even today. However, I do believe that social media platforms have both contributed to the amplification of current beauty standards, but also contributed to the ability to diversify these beauty standards. This is prevalent in the body positivity movement and the many body positive Instagram influencers who are dedicated to promoting different body ideals. Therefore, although beauty standards have existed and continue to exist and shift throughout history, I believe that we are somewhat complicit in our relationship with social media, where we have the option to choose who and what we follow. Thank you again for your message, I would love to know your thoughts on this as well and look forward to reading your paper.

Warm regards,

Here’s the link to the video:

Hi Nur

I found your paper an insightful look into Instagram and the intense focus on visual presentation- it is definitely a major issue today for people’s self-esteem and body image.
I would love to know your thoughts on recent discussions of smart-phone cameras that distort the user’s face, many were unaware of this issue up until the ‘Face Zoom’ trend on Tik Tok. This distortion is different to filters or FaceTune because the user does not purposefully change their appearance but can often lead to the same consequences.

Overall, I really enjoyed your paper and I am looking forward to your response!
I’d love for you to read my paper, ‘Life Through a Filter: How Social Network Pressures Lead to an Identity Crisis & Body Image Crisis’- I discuss similar issues that arise from the use of Social Networking Sites, such as Instagram.
You can find my paper here:

Thanks, Giorgii 🙂

Hi there Giorgii,

Thank you for your kind words and for checking out my paper, I’m glad you found it insightful! I’ve come across this trend myself through TikTok and had no idea that our smart-phone cameras distorted our face that much, after testing it out myself, I definitely felt that there was a major difference in my appearance where the ‘zoomed in’ version of my face was far more flattering. I feel that unintentional distortions to our image like this still contribute to negative perceptions of ourselves and in turn fuel’s our desire to edit our image. I feel that this trend along with many others such as the “hip dip” trend where several videos surfaced either making fun of hip dips or workout videos on how to “fix” hip dips, highlight a bigger issue with TikTok and its contribution to body dysmorphia and perpetuating beauty ideals. Due to this, I feel that platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and others alike should be held responsible for monitoring what sort of videos and ‘challenges’ are spread on their platforms as they can have detrimental effects on one’s mental well-being. Thank you again for your question, I look forward to reading your paper!

Warm regards,

Hello Nur!
I found your paper a very critical one but also learnt many things from it too. I think that your ideas were captivating and intriguing. Being on Instagram I agree with your comments about how idealised beauty standards by influencers but I also think that our friends add to this too. I think that seeing people around us looking beautiful and showing a fun life is almost worst then seeing influencers in this way as we can more closely relate to our friends.
I really like where you mentioned how there is economic value in attention. I feel as though this captures almost exactly what the Instagram world is about. Posting your best self in order for people to see you and want to follow you, therefore making money.

Your points about catfishing are interesting as well as I did not know those pages existed where they call out people for catfishing and over-editing. Do you think that catfishing is becoming more prevalent or stopping due to the rise of these pages.

Thanks, Isabella

Hi there Isabella,

Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to read my paper, I’m glad that you found it intriguing! The points made in your comment are extremely valid and are ones that I could have definitely explored within my paper. I am particularly intrigued by your point about how consuming glamorised content from our personal friends, family and others we know can have an even more detrimental effect on one’s mental health. I believe this is definitely a factor to look into, as pages that I mentioned such as ‘celebface’ and ‘socialmediavsreality’ often expose influencers for being ‘fake’ and may be the reason why many users understand how unreal and unrealistic some influencers actually are. Therefore, when seeing glamorous and beautified images of people we know, there is more reason to compare oneself to them, as they may come from similar background’s and socio-economic conditions.

I’m glad you found my discussion on these ‘expose’ pages interesting. Your question is very intriguing and relevant to my paper. Although pages such as these, garner millions of views and followers, I don’t believe these pages substantially assist in halting those who catfish. This is evident in the many influencers who often report or block these pages, only to continue posting the same heavily edited images of themselves. I feel that regardless of these pages, many people will go to any length necessary to maintain the perfectly curated image of themselves. If anything, I believe these pages may even push those who they have been exposed to get plastic surgery. This is the case for many like Karla Jara (who I’ve discussed within my paper) who has resorted to plastic surgery numerous times (as documented on her social media) to resolve insecurities of her own body image and to manage how others perceive her.

Thank you again for your insightful points and questions, I would love to know your take on these sorts of pages too!

Look forward to hearing from you.

Hi there,
Thank you for this interesting piece of work. I had a great time reading your paper, specially because I have worked on this topic in the past and I can really relate to your argument.

Day by day, the popularity of editing apps, photo shopping skills, social media ‘influencers’ are increasing and this is creating unrealistic body expectations specially for young girls. Most of these social media stars share more or less the same surgically or virtually altered or edited features and we are being tricked into believing this is all natural. While some of these influencers are more explicit and frank about their use of editing apps, some are consistently denying and fending off accusations of photo shop and surgery. Karla Jarla is a good example of this and I think you could also check the profile of @Lemy Beauty. She photo shops her body so much that people believe she has had her ribs removed to get her unbelievably curvy waist. However, being explicit about the use of editing skills is not necessarily a good thing and according to me, it sends the wrong message that photo shopping one’s body is normal instead of promoting body acceptance and positivism. I would really like to get your opinion on this and I am looking forward to your answer.

Best regards

Hey Vaishnavi,

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper and for your kind words, they are much appreciated! You made several excellent points, one that struck me the most was your statement on how influencers share the “same surgically or virtually altered or edited features” and that “we are being tricked into believing this is natural”, is a statement that I feel is absolutely true into todays current climate. I feel that there seems to be a growing “same face syndrome” where Instagram influencers and the everyday user turn to editing apps, makeup and cosmetic procedures to obtain features that seem to be universally accepted as the standard of beauty.

An article I read when writing my paper was one by Jia Tolentino for The New Yorker, titled “The Age of Instagram Face” and it discusses this phenomenon of women wanting to embody the beauty ideals that Instagram propagates and as a result slowly looking more identical than ever. She highlights how technology is rewriting our bodies in order to correspond to its own interests, where we are able to rearrange our faces and bodies according to whatever increases engagement and likes. Thank you for bringing Lemy Beauty to my attention, I have not heard of her prior but from looking at her Instagram page I can see how she is a very obvious embodiment of the typical and successful Instagram influencer and is quite clear that she has done some sort of augmentation to herself whether that be technological or surgical. I do agree with your point that being explicit about using editing tools can play a negative role in identity construction as it perpetuates body editing and that you must make yourself appear a certain way as the norm, as this can lead body dysmorphic issues. However, it can also be said that an individual trying to hide the fact that they edit their images (otherwise known as new age catfishing as mentioned in my paper) can also send the wrong message. Where those who follow influencers may believe that this person naturally looks the way they do when in reality it is extremely edited. Therefore, transparency can be a good thing, however there is a difference between transparency and influencing individuals to do the same, where I believe the latter may have detrimental effects on ones self-esteem.

Thank you for these great questions,


The Article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *