Identity and Online Advocacy

How the ‘misconception of perfection’ by Instagram Influencers encourages impressionable followers to purchase endorsed products that contribute to idolised body standards.

“Beauty Influencers use Instagram as a social platform to share edited photos of their flawless online persona to stand-out within the attention economy and endorse products, whilst simultaneously and unknowingly contributing to mental health issues to impressionable adolescents.”

This paper discusses how influencers as an online community create fictional personas and identities in an attempt to appear marketable to brands through their self-proclaimed aesthetic. Once they begin to stand-out within the attention-economy and have amassed a suitable social following, they become affiliated and sponsored by brands and products that they must seamlessly advertise to their followers. However, Influencers use numerous editing software’s to alter their appearance in images, as these sudden changes are made to believe to be that of the products they are endorsing. This plastic perception of creating a false reality affects the mental health of young followers who believe they do not fit in to society’s idolised social standards that are praised by the influencers they admire online. 

Influencers on Instagram are a new-found manner of celebrity status through online social fame as their following is gathered by their content and how they perceive themselves in front of their online audience. Influencers strategically edit their images and share posts to be seen organically by viewers despite them being juxtaposed to subtle product brand endorsements. However, this façade of an aesthetic lifestyle is allowing for followers to believe the misconception of perfection that they are exposed to online, evidently increasing rates of mental well-being in adolescent viewers. As a result, this impressionable target audience are made to believe that if they purchase the products that they are being exposed to, then they will live, act and look like the Influencers who of which they admire, without knowing the reality behind the original image. 

What is an Instagram Influencer?

Asserting a positive online image through a multitude of heavily edited posts and memorable self-branding is what entices followers to take part in the online reality of Instagram Influencers. Established in 2010, Instagram has stuck to its originality of strictly sharing photos and videos as a user-generated application which has recently become overly professionalized due to the large amount of promoted and advertised content shown on the platform (van Driel, 2020). Since Instagram only uses photos, videos and disappearing 24-hour stories, visuals are the main focal point for online consumers of the social networking app. Leaver (2019) and Marwick (2015) states that an Influencer can be described as a Microcelebrity; individuals who use the internet to cultivate high visibility for themselves by self-branding online in an attempt to build a following of viewers who find them aspirational through their depicted lifestyle choices. Due to these factors, Influencers have cultivated Instagram as an online marketing platform for their own self-branding and online identity benefits, along with the potential advantage of being noticed by brands to engage in monetary outcomes. Instagram Influencers have the ability to be very diverse in terms of the content they produce and thrive off of discoverability by sharing a wide range of content that does not remain restricted within one online community or network. The term discoverability refers to the ability for users to discover content within a complex information environment (Lobato, 2018). Typical content in the 20’s for Influencers mainly involves around fashion, food and beauty related posts, as well as being around other individuals with equally high social followings for a chance to be discovered by a wider range of potential followers. Beauty Influencers especially, tend to fit into numerous online communities to appeal to a wide range of viewers to therefore expand their social following. Community has changed due to new advancing technologies, however it still encapsulates the social structure of individuals who see each other through ‘neighbourhood-like’ relationships (Hampton, 2016). Influencers gain their fame by how aesthetically pleasing or realistically enjoyable their posts are perceived by followers; however, it is no longer the original intention of the simplicity of posting a photo. Influencers will go to the extreme of having their own social media managers, take photos on high quality cameras, using editing software’s such as the infamous FaceTune and Photoshop, and eventually upload them through external hard drives (Leaver, 2019). In an attempt to create their online image as flawless as possible to generate potential brand sponsorships, Instagram has become more professionalised than ever before. 

Influencers, Endorsements and Photo Editing

It isn’t the case that only Instagram Influencers want brand deals; but rather brands are seeking out Influencers to market and become a trusted face of their company name. Additionally, Gerdeman (2019) states that consumers are now rejecting direct advertisements and traditional forms of media and instead seek out third-party reviews from influencers to gain an ‘unfiltered’ and trustworthy opinion on a product based on additional peripheral cue such as their number of followers (De Veirman, 2017). By establishing a positive online image that followers know and trust, this will increase consumer confidence in the sponsored brand, since it is being endorsed by a reputable online figure. Additionally, 75% of brands market through Influencers as it allows for a higher chance of discoverability and authenticity for both parties involved (De Veirman, 2017). Influencer’s can promote just about anything from website promotions to beauty products, even the notorious Kardashian’s were once promoting Sugar Bear Hair supplements and detox teas. By discretely promoting products, followers see this as ‘organic engagement’ (Widyanto, 2020) by the Influencer and are none-the-wiser at the effortless product placement. Despite this, it is a well-known topic of conversation that the Kardashian’s are not as authentic as they seem, clearly having several body-modification surgeries throughout their time in the spotlight, which is the same for most current Instagram Influencers. Since their online image is the face of their online branding and persona, Influencers strive to look their best at all times which involves editing their appearance through external applications, with the most infamous apps being FaceTune and Photoshop. Influencers such as the Kardashian’s and many others have all undergone surgeries and continue to use the FaceTune app to further edit their perfectly perceived images. “Influencers are instead posing, grooming and constructing idealized versions of their ‘best life’ to cultivate a sense of future-oriented aspiration…” (Leaver, 2019). Van Driel (2019) states that Influencers must adapt to the platform to create and endorse as much content as possible whilst still remaining authentic to viewers. Influencers create a para-social relationship with followers in an attempt to appear relatable and therefore more reliable in terms of sharing information and content. Horton (1956) implies that parasocial relationships are one sided, with no respect on the spectator’s behalf from the performer, or in this case the Influencer. With countless Influencer’s across the social platform, the posting of sponsored advertisements is beginning to affect how young viewers see themselves compared to that of an online persona that represents a more well-established lifestyle and version of their authentic self. Consumers now believe the ideology that by purchasing a sponsored product advertised by an Influencer, they will look and live like the individual that is promoting it. However, the promoting of products whilst showing false results is becoming a dominant social issue and is affecting the younger generation in ways that were never intended. The self-professionalisation of Influencers has engulfed Instagram into the concept of the attention-economy through the over-popularisation and over-professionalism of individuals using the user-generated platform. 

The Well-Being of Followers

Although many Influencers subtly change their appearance to be admired by their followers, unbeknownst to them they are creating social issues around body image and mental well-being for young and impressionable viewers. As stated in the 2020 Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’, suicide rates in the US for girls increased by 70% in adolescents aged 15-19 and heartbreakingly by 151% in pre-teens 10-14 years of age, both relating back to the introduction of social media platforms in 2009 (Orlowski, 2020). There’s a constant struggle for teenagers and young adults to fit into an idolised body standard popularised by trends occurring on social media. This intimidates and influences viewers’ own self-perception of themselves through the unrealistic social standards of heavy photo editing and external procedures. Brucculieri (2018) states that Instagram Influencers are all starting to look the same with full-pouted lips and perfect eyebrows scattered across social media platforms. This is an attempt to become noticeable within the attention-economy online rather than stand out uniquely with the fear of not being recognised due to idolised and westernised beauty standards. A study conducted by Rodgers (2018) involving 681 adolescent’s and their sociological, psychological and biological influencers towards body image and how this impacted their own self-image through social media usage. Research shows that social media use is synonymous with body image concerns with psychological factors include low self-esteem, appearance comparison, eating disorders and internalized depressive tendencies in the young adults (Rodgers 2020). Additionally, beauty products have been purchased by these consumers more than ever before. By encouraging followers to purchase endorsed brand products through online advocacy, this also subconsciously affects their personal outlook of themselves and their appearance, compared to those of online who perceived themselves as perfect idolised figures. The editing of images to fit into a westernised social standard that is displayed as thin and voluptuous seeds doubt in the mind of young females across the globe as they struggle to accept the online world to reality. This issue does not limit itself to western beauty standards; but alternates throughout the world with what is perceived as beautiful online versus in real life. Followers aspire to look like who they follow but are unfazed by the fact that they live in an online reality and their persona does not exist the way they would hope to. This Influencer cycle of appearing perfect on social platforms is damaging the self-image of the younger generation. Since Influencers are microcelebrities, they are role models to their young followers and must set a positive example, rather than making them believe they do not fit in with what is defined as ‘beautiful’ in the modern age of social media. The relentlessness of how beauty is idolised online contributes to the misconception of perfection on behalf of young followers and how edited body images contribute to low self-esteem through unrealistic body and beauty standards. 

Overall, Influencers use Instagram to create an online identity built upon aesthetics and lifestyle admirations in an attempt to advocate for followers to purchase sponsored and affiliated brand products. With visuals being the main focal point of Instagram, Influencers go to the extreme of making their posts as flawless as possible in an attempt to appear admirable in accordance with beauty and body image standards. The overindulgence of editing photos and selfies to create a plastic perception of their online persona, contributes to the misconception of beauty standards in the eyes of young and impressionable followers. Since the introduction of social media in 2009, suicide rates in young people have significantly increased due to the pressure that social media is having on our young generations. The issue of low self-esteem based on body image has significantly increased overtime due to the excess amount of time individuals spend on social media daily, yet Influencers remain glorified by indoctrinate followers. 


Brucculieri, J. (2018). Instagram Influencers Are All Starting To Look The Same. Here’s Why. Huffpost.

De Veirman, M., Caubrghe, V., Hudders, L. (2017). Marketing through Instagram influencers: the impact of number of followers and product divergence on brand attitude. International Journal of Advertising, 36(5), 798-828.

Gerdeman, D. (2019). How Influencers Are Making Over Beauty Marketing. Forbes.

Hampton, K. N. (2016). Persistent and Pervasive Community: New Communication Technologies and the Future of Community. American Behavioral Scientist60(1), 101–124.

Horton, D., & Wohl, R. (1956) Mass Communication and Para-Social Interaction: Observation on Intimacy at a Distance. Psychiatry, 19(3), 215-229.

Leaver, T., Highfield, T., & Abidin, C. (2019). Instagram: Visual Social Media Cultures. Polity Press.

Lobato, R. (2018). On Discoverability. Flow Journal.

Marwick, A. (2015). Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy. Public Culture. 27(1), 137–160.

Orlowski, J. (Director). (2020). The Social Dilemma [Film]. Expose Labs. Netflix.

Rodgers, R.F., Slater, A., Gordon, C.S. et al. (2020). A Biopsychosocial Model of Social Media Use and Body Image Concerns, Disordered Eating, and Muscle-Building Behaviors among Adolescent Girls and Boys. J Youth Adolescence 49,399–409.

Van Driel, L., & Dumitrica, D. (2020). Selling brands while staying “Authentic”: The professionalization of Instagram influencers. Convergence, 27(1), 66–84.

Widyanto, H., & Augusti, C. (2020). Beauty influencer in the digital age: How does it influence purchase intention of generation Z? Research Gate, 13 (1), 1-16.

24 thoughts on “How the ‘misconception of perfection’ by Instagram Influencers encourages impressionable followers to purchase endorsed products that contribute to idolised body standards.

  1. Hi Layla – great paper!

    As someone who feels they are influenced by the things that I see on social media, I found myself relating with a lot of the things you have written.

    Do you think influencers are the way of the future from a marketing perspective, due to the personified advertising that is so much easier to persuade people than traditional marketing techniques??

    1. Hi Erin, thanks!
      I do believe that Influencer’s will remain around for a while, however they aren’t the original blueprint for personified marketing strategies. Gallegos (2016) states that in the late 1800’s, brands began recruiting celebrities to promote consumer products, even the Queen and the Pope! Eventually, advertisements saw the introduction of mascots and brand figures to ‘sell a story’ to the consumer. Now, we have evolved to that of the social media influencer. Nowadays, some brands, such as Estee Lauder, spend up to 75% of their marketing budget on Influencers, since majority of social media user’s want to hear reviews and advice from ‘real people’ (Gerdeman, 2019). So to answer your question, I feel as if we will one day experience a new context of influencers similar to what we see today, but hopefully with a lot more authenticity!

      Gallegos, J. (2016). The History and Evolution of Marketing Influencers. TINT Blog.
      Gerdeman, D. (2019). How Influencers Are Making Over Beauty Marketing. Forbes.

  2. Hi Layla,

    I really enjoyed reading your article! I agree with the points you make on how Instagram is creating mental health issues by normalising unattainable beauty standards. I think this can be largely attributed to the fact that Instagram is a highly visual platform, and since photos can be easily manipulated by software such as photoshop, this facilitates manipulation. I think it would be very difficult to discourage people from editing photos, considering it has become such a large part of everyday life. Also, people spend so much time interacting with people online (often more than they do offline) that their online identity is often more important than their offline identity. Hence, it makes perfect sense that people would want to do all they can to make themselves appear better. However, as the same time, the rise of trends such as “Instagram vs reality” seem to be highlighting how fake social media is, and in turn perhaps encouraging people to be more authentic (Tiggemann & Anderberg, 2020). I would be interested to know which direction you think Instagram is currently heading towards (more editing or less so)?

    I like how you discussed the motives behind why influencers edit their appearance: to improve their online branding and make themselves appear more aspirational. This makes sense, celebrities want to attract followers to enhance their worth, and they do this by looking their best and curating their social media content to construct a highly desired appearance, personality and lifestyle. However, I think there is also a number of influencers who gain followers from being the opposite: showing raw authenticity and being seemingly open and honest with heir followers. Do you think this should still be seen as a form of manipulation and an “attempt to appear relatable”?

    Thanks so much for sharing this article, it was a great read!

    If you have time, please check out my paper on Instagram and feminism! Here’s the link:

    Tiggemann, M., & Anderberg, I. (2020). Social media is not real: The effect of ‘Instagram vs reality’images on women’s social comparison and body image. New Media & Society, 22(12), 2183-2199.

    1. Thanks for your comment Rebekah 🙂
      Yes, I have been noticing a lot more user’s are expressing the uniqueness and originality in regards to their appearance in an attempt to stand out within the ever-growing ‘attention economy’ on social media (Marwick, 2015). In my opinion, I don’t see this as a form of manipulation, however I may be biased due to how I perceive an Influencers performance of authenticity online. However, I feel as if this is almost a double edged sword, as I see users’ being both praised and criticised online for showing their ‘true self’. The first TikTok user that comes to mind when I think of uniqueness is @faithsorad – a model who is missing two of her front teeth due to a condition called Hypodontia, and has accumulated 258.1k followers. One comment on a post that has over 900k views states “I think you’re so beautiful because you look natural and not fake and that’s beautiful” (@themajorofkaylatown). However, I again saw a TikTok (I can’t find it, sorry!) of a lady putting on make-up with what seemed to be very dry and flakey skin, with one user commenting “ever heard of a face scrub?” I strongly feel that despite our attempt to include ‘natural’ perceptions of people on social media, we have become so accustom to certain beauty standards that defines what we consider to be beautiful or gross. With that being said, I feel as if I am seeing more and more females looking very similar to each other across social media platforms (Brucculieri, 2018) , thanks to celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian establishing unrealistic body standards for impressionable viewers to follow. On another note, I often feel as if brand advertisements showcase diversity as if it is a ‘trend’ in our modern context. So I wonder, what will our perception of beauty standards be in the near future?

      Marwick, A. (2015). Instafame: Luxury Selfies in the Attention Economy. Public Culture. 27(1), 137–160.

      Brucculieri, J. (2018). Instagram Influencers Are All Starting To Look The Same. Here’s Why. Huffpost.

  3. Hii Layla Santella,

    I really enjoyed reading your paper and it was very interesting. You did an excellent job in showcasing how influencers have emerged on social media and along with their purpose. Social media platforms have had a negative impact on people’s views of beauty, aesthetics, and body image all around the world. Many of them do take advantage of the sensible aspects and beliefs over body image to promote purchase of beauty products which may have been useless to the consumer at the first point, in order to gain in popularity and even revenue. However, we can notice that there has been a major shift when it comes to beauty standards and body image on social media. With the raise in awareness over this issue, we can see many influential personalities can on social media addressing the issues. As an example, it has become very popular trend on online social platforms to see the hashtags such as “#nomakeup”, “fatspiration” or “loveyourbody”, which are contributing to bring in light to the fake standards on beauty and body image. From this fact, do you believe that the influencers that promotes the stigmas over body image and beauty, are the very ones that can bring in back positivity amongst social media users, in order to make them feel better on their physical appearance?
    I would really appreciate to hear your opinion on that.

    Moreover, since our papers are quiet relatable, I would really appreciate if you could take some time to read my paper on how Social Media and Online Health Communities are Changing psychological states and the fighting against depression. Here’s the link :

    Thank you!

  4. Hi Layla, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your paper and thought it was very well though out and brings light to the detrimental issues which come from social media influences. The facts and statistics which you have incorporated into your paper are extremely eye opening and I completely agree with you that this topic needs to be talked about more so that younger adolescences are more knowledgeable and don’t have extremely unachievable standards for themselves.

    When I read papers like your own, and write papers on this topic, I do feel quite guilty as I myself follow beauty and fashion influencers who I know for a fact use an unnecessary amount of photoshop and almost promote ‘fakeness’ . I’m not sure what it is about the attraction of following accounts like these, which I think is definitely something I would be interested to look into.

    I have wrote a paper on a topic which falls under the same stream as yours and focuses on unrealistic body stereotypes and the influencer economy making these body types seem achievable. I focus on the emerging social media platform, Tiktok, and how people/users are creating communities and networks in order to go against these stereotypical beauty standards, I would love for your opinion if you are interested. The link to my paper is:

    1. Hi Jules,
      Thank you for reading my paper, and I am in the same boat as you in regards to falling victim to these online marketing schemes and over-indulgence of following Influencer lifestyles. After I had written my paper and had watched the documentary The Social Dilemma (Orlowski, 2020) on Netflix, it was extremely eye-opening for me. The documentary talks about just how addictive social media is, the affect it has on young people and what companies are doing with our data. I highly suggest you watch it! In an attempt to block out the ‘fakeness’, as you stated, I then went through my following list on Instagram and unfollowed many Influencer accounts. I even added time limitations on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook after seeing my screen time was up to 13 hours a week for TikTok alone… I had an addiction and didn’t even realise how much time I was wasting by staring at my phone. I then realised that every 4th post on both my Instagram and Facebook was an advertisement – I had no idea I was being advertised so much content throughout the day. It just goes to show how social media is consuming our lives in ways we never would’ve imagined.

      Orlowski, J. (Director). (2020). The Social Dilemma [Film]. Expose Labs. Netflix.

      1. Hi Layla,

        That is extremely interesting! I will 100% be watching this documentary sometime this week and I have been noticing lately that social media is partially taking over my life. I have thought to myself for a while now that I need to go through my followings on Instagram and do a big cull as there are many people that I follow that don’t influence me in a positive way, which is very silly to follow people like this. Social media really is just full of advertisements now and I believe rather then ads it should be filled with things such as articles on real world issues and recognition of charities which can help people in need. Although in saying this, the advertisements are a massive part of small businesses revenue and a way for them to bring in sales, so it really is a hard one.

  5. Hi Layla,

    Do you think that your opinion exposes some biases to your own use of Instagram and social media? The scope seems to focus on a niche regarding influencer practices and branding. Arguably Instagram has a large array of influencers who can be used to rebuttal your opinion that there is an “over indulgence of editing photos and selfies to create a plastic perception of their online persona” that contribute to mental health issues for adolescents. A perfect example of this is the content creator “Skin by Hyram” (YouTube, 2021). While yes, they use their platform to promote products to their followers the intention behind their content is to assist consumers when purchasing beauty skincare products and advice on healing acne. Hyram (YouTube, 2021) has created several videos aiming to help teenagers in battling acne for them to feel more confident in their skin and have information to purchase affordable skin care products. Therefor Hyram is aiming to assist in their followers manifesting a higher self-esteem and confidence in their own skin.

    Also the critique regarding professional equipment in creating content seems to disregard the benefits that social media and Instagram has provided beauty influencers, arguably the use of professional equipment gives their work greater opportunity to be used on a brands website or social media for promotional content therefore providing the average person voice in the competitive beauty marketing segment.

    Hyram. (2021). [Video]. Retrieved from

    1. I apologies this comment is directed to Layla but I am unable to edit, so sorry.
      Hi Layla would love to hear your thoughts.

    2. Hi Casey,

      I love skincare by Hyram! In my opinion, he is the most authentic Influencer (although I’m sure he wouldn’t consider himself one) that I have seen throughout my years online. I believe that the differentiation by Hyram compared to that of other users is his vulnerability that he shares with his subscribers. With influencers, we only ever see the best moments of their lives, also known as the ‘highlight reel’ (Parnell, 2017), with glimpses of additional ‘low moments’ that show followers that they’re still people too. Compared to that of Hyram, he is very public about past personal and traumatic events, posting videos titled “How I “Recovered” From My Eating Disorder & Depression” and “I Tried To Take My Own Life”, that amassed millions of views. However yes, this does seem biased compared to that of other Influencers. Perhaps my perception of some Influencers is altered by who I personally believe is being authentic enough. In reality, it may be too hard to tell through the screens of social media, and that we will never truely know an Influencers truely authentic identity.

      Hyram. (2021). [Video]. Retrieved from

      Parnell, Bailey. Tedx Talks. (2017). [video]. Retrieved from

  6. Hi Layla,
    This is Wen, what you have argued about is really interesting and I really enjoyed reading your paper! I totally agree with your arguements that followers are trying to change their lifestyle to the shaped-lifestyles that influencers are living. The younger generation tends to believe what they observe online are the reality, and they are constantly trying to fit in the standards that are framed online. However, not every influencer would disclose the side effects of the products that they are promoting (Suciu, n.d. ), which might lead to negative product experiences physically or mentally for the followers who decided to try the product but the results turned out to be not as expected.
    In my opinion, particular and certain levels of skills are needed in order to manage the presence on social media well given that the standard of being appealling and eye-catching is increased.
    Do you think that people would still think social media influencers are convincing and influencial if the influencers show the real side of them? Even though the influencers might not be as perfect as they were? Would they lose their followers if they really do so?

    Suciu P. (n.d.). Can We Trust Social Media Influencers? Forbes.

    1. Hi Wen,

      I noticed that the paper shined the light on deceptive and misleading practices of beauty influencers so I think your questions regarding if authenticity is a component of online practices is interesting and exceptionally valid. I found a data report that evaluates the importance of authenticity for content creation, according to the data consumers are actually seeking more authentic content with 86% believe that it is a key component in the decision making process to support and like an account (Stackla, 2021). It is also interesting to note the reports finds that 60% of consumes say that use generated content is the most authentic form of content (Stackla, 2021). So to answer your question it may seem that if influencers structed their content to reveal more of their authentic self through showing imperfections and or flaws they could receive greater support from their followers.

      Layla and Wen do you agree with the findings?
      Layla what are your opinions on the concept of authenticity in the beauty influencer space? Considering your argument is that there is an absence of this.


      Stackla. (2021). The Consumer Content Report: Influence in the Digital Age. Stackla. Retrieved from

      1. Hi Casey,

        I agree with what you are saying. As mentioned in my paper, “Additionally, 75% of brands market through Influencers as it allows for a higher chance of discoverability and authenticity for both parties involved (De Veirman, 2017). ” Building on from that, the concept of the Consumer Decision-Making Process is a 5-step process conducted by all individuals when making a purchase decision, no matter how big or small it may be. Step 2 of the model involves the ‘Search for Information’ by the buyer (Stankevich, 2017). In this step, individuals will research reviews on the product they are focused on purchasing. Stankevich (2017) does an excellent job at explaining the intricate details of this framework. Majority of the time, these reviews are made by endorsed influencers who are paid to present the product to their online audience as authentically as possible. In this case, consumers are being advertised the product rather than finding real authentic reviews. Even billionaire Kylie Jenner was once accused of posting fake reviews on her Kylie Skin products (Bell, 2019), which was then contradicted by non-filtered reviews of users on Twitter.

        This is a clever play by marketers who are manipulating the importance of the Consumer Decision-Making Process through creating perceived authentic reviews by sponsoring Influencers. This goes to show that most things are not as they seem online, and that authentic posts may be fuelled by additional benefits.

        Bell, Caroline. (2019). Kylie Jenners Is Not Here For Your Kylie Skin Fake Reviews Claims.

        De Veirman, M., Caubrghe, V., Hudders, L. (2017). Marketing through Instagram influencers: the impact of number of followers and product divergence on brand attitude. International Journal of Advertising, 36(5), 798-828.

        Stankevich, Alina. 2017. “Explaining the Consumer Decision-Making Process: Critical Literature Review.” Journal of International Business Research and Marketing 2(6): 7-14.

        1. Hi Layla,

          I did find that part of your paper very interesting, it comes to show the subjectivity of authenticity in online spaces and how the way in which identity is portrayed online can be very fragmented. I have also noticed in my own experiences the ways in which marketers and influencers are creating content of perceived authenticity in order to achieve monetary gain or increased trust.

  7. Hi Layla!

    This is such an important and current topic amongst young men and women today, especially since the rise of influencers and photo editing in recent years. I did an essay and research similar to this topic in the previous year for another unit so it’s amazing to see similar perspectives to mine so strongly talked about.

    A lot of young people, including myself, do often fall victim to following these type of influencers and perceive them as perfect and flawless, when in reality it’s all a fabrication. As many influencers and YouTubers often say; their Instagram, TikTok, and other social media is more a ‘highlight reel’ of their life, posting content from the exciting moments in their life and not so much the mundane moments which we, as viewers, relate to most often.

    However, I have seen many influencers in the past few weeks or so following the trend where they show their body and life in its realest form without editing or filters. This ‘social media is fake’ trend is very important now and it is so great to see influencers may be becoming more authentic.

    This a very well-researched paper, and the references you chose are perfect choices and insights into your topic which is very important in putting your idea across. Great job!

    My conference paper has a basic and over-arching stand on how social media like TikTok impacts users’ sexuality expression, yet there are quite a few similarities in our discussion of social media’s impact on communities and expression. I would appreciate your feedback on it if you would like to take a look.

    Thank you!
    – Rachelle

  8. Hi Layla,

    This was a very interesting read and I totally agree with the points you’ve made. We only see a glimpse of these ‘influencers’ through their photos which were taken with ‘good lighting’, ‘good angle’ and when these influencers look their ‘best’ and I think a lot of the younger generation fail to understand that which is why influencers promoting specific brands and items in order for their followings to look like them promotes a negative connotation.

    I think Instagram is a very toxic place for people who haven’t found themselves as they go on and try to look or behave like their favorite influencers and this could lead to potential depression and other mental health issues which you’ve touched upon. Although I think social media has it’s negative impacts, it has also brought a lot of positive impacts.

    I’ve written a paper on the effects of Twitter on the #MeToo movement and I’d love for you to have a read and let me know what you think 🙂

  9. Hi Layla,

    This was a really interesting paper. I particularly liked the phrase you used at the start, ‘plastic perception’, as I think the connotations from this really reflect the argument you raise, that ‘reality’ online is often not as it appears but has been significantly enhanced.

    This editing of self, especially as a marketing tactic, is not new. Women’s beauty, fashion, and health magazines have been blurring this precarious line since they began printing. The ‘airbrushed look’ was a standard seen across all of these front page covers, which was equally as damaging to those young and impressionable readers, who looked up to these models as the epitome of beauty that they aspired to be.

    I think the key difference between this example and what you allude to in your paper is the aspect of immediacy that comes with social media. These ‘air brushed’, or in the case of Instagram, ‘face tuned’, images are much more prevalent in modern day. It’s not a matter of waiting a full month until the next copy of the magazine is released, but it’s at the tap of your finger, with this volume and frequency of new images generated being simply unmatched by traditional forms of media. It makes me wonder whether social media would have the same impact as it does being used in this manner, as it would if influencers could only post once a month, like a magazine.

    I’d love to hear more about what you think it is about social media specifically that enables the creation of this environment you discuss, one with such serious consequences on users.

    My paper is also within the identity stream, but instead of focusing on the effects of social media, it looks at what happens to our social media when we die.

  10. Hi Layla,

    You present a strong argument for the damaging effect of Instagram influencer culture on adolescents particularly. It is true that the simple act of posting photos has become overprofessionalised and commercialised to detrimental societal effect. It is interesting how aesthetic preferences are trending towards less realistic and more digitised as we live more of our lives online.

    Your paper brings to mind the recent debacle surrounding Khloe Kardashian’s unedited photo. This incident seems to have demonstrated that influencers are equally as negatively impacted as their followers, and that perhaps the influence of edited images works both on the uploader as well as the audience. I’d say besides monetarily (and perhaps gaining social capital although that is debatable), Instagram influencers have as much to lose as their followers and are essentially followers themselves of other aspirational online identities. The line between follower and influencer may not be so clear!

    This paper was very well researched and a great read.

  11. Hello Layla,
    I really enjoy reading you paper, for people not knowing what is really the world of social media influencers your paper is the perfect one to get to understand influencers work. You talked about the identity that influencer create base on an idea of perfection and I find it fascinating how you tackle the subject of perfection link to influencer identity. But have you ever thought about how this perfection identity can affect influencers identity? It is the subject of my paper : Performance of ideal self-online having a detrimental effect on social media influencer’s identity. In my paper I tackle that aspect of influencer having an ideal self can have detrimental effect on their identity. I really encourage you to read my paper as I think that we tackle the same problem but from two different point of view.

    Really nice work.

    1. Hi Marie,
      Thank you for your comment! And yes, I agree with you on the ideology that faking an identity can almost overthrow our own personal authentic selves. Could you please reply with a link to your paper as I am very interested to read it but cannot seem to find it 🙂

      All the best,

Leave a Reply

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