I spoke at a marketing conference a couple of weeks ago: although I was there to talk about the current fail of marketing to older people, I touched on another subject. What I’ve very much noticed is that older women are far less judgemental about the looks of others than younger women are, and I mentioned that what’s knocking the confidence of millions of younger girls is actually younger girls!
My words were that for beauty brands to be interested in you for social media, you need to be a) young and b) beautiful. Young isn’t enough. At the end of the panel debate, a young woman came to speak to me, and without disclosing too much of what she said, she cried because those words had touched a very raw nerve for her.
It’s actually not that unusual for there to be tears around the subject of beauty no matter what your age. In fact, now I think it about it, it happened the last time I spoke at a panel. Your perception of your own beauty is such an emotional thing at any age, and sometimes hearing someone speak about it can be a very painful experience. Not feeling pretty enough is an absolute epidemic.
However, because I’m across multiple channels, I can see that the very worst channel for making you feel that you’ll never cut it with a selfie is Instagram. Likes and followers are your approval currency – I have seen young women literally panicking because they don’t have enough likes – the more likes you get, the prettier you must be, right?
Women aren’t just influenced by each other – our beauty brands have a big part to play in what is deemed as beautiful. I watch several beauty brand accounts who will only regram or feature young women who are flawless and filtered. NYX has a lot to answer for on this one as they’re one of the very worst offenders. NYX is part of L’Oreal. I have never seen a regrammed or featured selfie by NXY of a) an older woman, or b) a young woman whose eye-whites aren’t practically neon because they’re so filtered. No, they’re picking out their social ambassadors entirely based on an image that’s very far from the truth.
I have several brands that are 100% banned on my site – Bondi Sands Self Tan is one; Frank Coffee Body Scrub is another – because what they promote isn’t so much the ‘ideal’ but the impossible. Bondi Sands is particularly annoying because they intersperse it with motivational quotes and pictures of doughnuts amongst the impossibly slim women. It could not give more of a mixed message if it tried. Dropping in an occasional picture of someone of average body proportions in amongst a sea of ribs isn’t enough to negate the thin message.
The funny thing is that these brands, and many others besides, have such a skewed view of beauty and a very tight string of what’s appropriate to sell their brand, that they’ve failed to realise they’re contributing to a massive problem that will one day will bite them on their perfected butts. All the young women who don’t feel thin enough or pretty enough will one day be adults who have daughters themselves. This can go one of two ways – either they’ll end up with daughters who feel as insecure and worthless as they feel, which doesn’t really bear thinking about, or they’ll furiously discourage those daughters from ever being caught up in the perfection race in the first place. Miserable, unhappy women who hate their own faces and bodies because they don’t conform to brand imagery on Instagram won’t be a future consumer base. There are multiple brands with a wider view of beauty who will make women feel better, happier and more confident and they’ll take the ££s.
It’s actually a mental health issue; you name it, there are multiple complex confidence issues that stem from insecurity about looks. Brands that insist on only portraying perfection at all times have something to think about. It’s when a gorgeous mascara or a wonderful skin oil becomes only for the ‘beautiful’ that you end alienating multiple age levels of women and very far from inspiring them to become more beautiful, you set off a complicated emotional chain that’s very hard to deal with.
Brands have to sit up and listen to the growing epidemic of young women who are consistently feeling worse about themselves and entirely apart from the imagery they see. Brands are happy to take their money but not happy to take any responsibility in perpetuating unrealistic and unattainable images. Instadysmorphia is just waiting to happen. The girl who cried at the conference was completely lovely – in anybody’s eyes, pretty, but because she didn’t conform to a particular popular look she couldn’t see any of it in herself. It’s bothered me for weeks, this one.
You know what is really attractive? Confidence. Vibrancy. Kindness. Humour. Competence. Empathy. Smiles. Laughter. You can’t contour your way into any of these, but you can cleanse away everything that doesn’t make you feel good about yourself. You’re the customer, and you are ALWAYS right ;-). I think you’ll very much find that people are drawn like moths to a flame to all of the above in terms of what makes them want to spend time with you, but virtually never to a perfect contour or a non-clumpy lash. I’ve never known either of those to be a deal breaker.
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Hear hear Jane, wise words.
Thank you Jane, I agree completely. The chase for perfection and youth is utterly depressing. My daughter is 14 and I worry about her being sucked into this madness
totally agree, Triangl I have noticed to be bad, their page is just filled with beautiful women, no wonder girls now develop a complex, I see instagram as a filter, no one posts ugly snaps, filter out the bad.
Such an interesting well written article Jane. All I can say is I am so glad I am no longer at school/ in my teens. I am 5ft10 and was that height in my teenage years that accompanied by a longish face and biggish nose (I like to say patrician now!) – this made those years so awkward as I just wanted to be smaller and prettier – the idea of adding in the whole social media/selfies/aspect to that doesn’t bare thinking about…!! As you get older other things become more important and you realise you have got what you’ve got “beauty wise” and make the best of it and focus as you say on other aspects of your personality. I feel luckier now in a way as I feel I’ve grown into my looks and being a bit different and having a bit of character is preferable. I would like to think if friends were asked to describe me to somebody they would say “that big tall lassie that’s a good laugh”!
Wow… I could have written that- sums it up perfectly. My height (5’9″) makes me feel so awkward & clumsy. I also have a big nose that I am so very conscious of. My poor self image has led to a lifetime of disordered eating and hiding. Now at 45 I feel invisible too. Almost as if I should apologise for loving make up- make up is my escape & me time.
Sounds silly when I read what I have read.
It’s not silly.. but it is time to like yourself more. You’ve pointed out your flaws but none of your assets. So.. come on.. let’s hear them :-)))
I’m kind, funny, loyal.
I’m told I have big green eyes which I guess are my best feature. I do believe in making the best of what you have though.
Thank you Jane, that made me think xx
Also, can I just point out that 5ft 9 is PERECT model height. 🙂
never apologise for loving makeup! and although, you may feel invisible, i doubt very much that you are. age simply weeds out the silly people… anyone too self involved and perfection or youth focused hardly deserves your attention anyway. 🙂
As someone who uses Instagram to “connect” with audiences similarly to you I know what you mean – these girls are terrifying to look at if you can’t filter the fact it’s all fake. Other impressionable young women must be breaking their hearts over this. Beauty Blogging is a fairly horrible industry – it reminds me of 6th form common room – popularly/prettiness competition basically. This is why i distance myself into “magazine” territory so I can reassure myself I’m not competing with the buttons and zoes and viviannas.
I’ve only posted the one pic on Instagram of my professionally taken wedding pic – it’s gained a fair amount of likes – granted and everyone I know keeps telling me – beautiful/stunning/so pretty etc but I can’t believe them – I’m so emotionally scarred. How can a size 18 girl with a spade for a chin and hooded eyes be compared to those “internet personalities” – I just can’t believe what other people see as I’ve been so conditioned to compare myself to other, better looking, thinner women.
I’m still really proud of my wee magazine – we are being mentioned in the Avon catalogue – perfect for my audience but I still can’t help not feeling good enough because I’ve not got thousands of subscribers on Bloglovin or Instagram or Twitter.
We can be our own worst enemy sometimes.
Simply Woman Magazine
I think it’s very hard to see one’s own good points – we hear 99 wonderful compliments and choose to listen to 1 that wasn’t even an insult, just not quite as enthusiatic as others! We definitely do it to ourselves some of the time. I’d just take those lovely compliments -unless you had your friends at gun point they were freely given and undoubtedly meant! We all compare to a certain degree but I think the main point is that you don’t have to compete.. it’s not a compulsory race and in the case of Instagram, seeing is not believing!
It’s very wise of you. I love makeup but when I see the level it became nowadays, in the department stores, it’s quite crazy, and not in the good way.
I think brands, in their interest, want to make people believe in the power of makeup, and that they make women to look more pretty.
But maybe it’s us women who let them do so !
If we women are all shouting that makeup is powerful, the brands would take the occasion to make money.
Makeup is art, makeup is magic, but we women shouldn’t NEED them. It should be considered as an accessory, a form of art, an amusemen, but not what we can’t live without !
It’s easy to add shimmers in our face, to add jewels on our body, to curl our hairs and paint our nails, but it’s less easy to cultivate the inside, to learn new knowledges. I think to cultivate the inside wealth is what’s missing in nowadays human’s mind.
We are chasing after the outside stuffs to stimulate us. We are easily bored, cause our mind needs to be stimulate, we want to feel emotions, to be surprised, to feel new things, but we feed our mind with craps, with speed sugar like the accessories, the makeup, the hair stuff, the nail stuff, etc. That’s maybe why we keep buying buying endlessly, cause our mind is never satisfied with those things.
Maybe we women should do more to feed our soul with things that really matter, with new knowledges to become more aware about the world. And it’s when we become more wise that we can help our children to not do the same mistakes.
But a lot of children just repeat the same mistakes of parents cause parents never saw their mistakes.
Let’s “cultivate our (inside) garden” !
I love Instagram and I am very picky of who I follow (I hate the filter-on-filter profiles and “selfie” profiles in general, actually). But I am now close to my 28th birthday and can’t even imagine what it would’ve been if Instagram was my SM of choice when I was 15… It would have been a total disaster for my confidence, I suppose 🙁
You rock! One of the things that keeps on returning me to your blog is that, for all the lovely things you review, you also pull the industry up (or at least certain/most sections) on how bone grindingly dull they can be in terms of their marketing/concept/(lack of ) understanding of women. Fantastic stuff – keep on rockin’ (in those great trousers and cons – working the sassy look).
Thank you luciferpaws, couldn’t have put it better myself.
My compliments to you Jane for telling it how it is.
I love reading your blog, Jane, because you write articles like this. Thank you.
Incredibly well said – all I can say is “ditto” to everything you’ve pointed out! Excellent piece x
Great post! I think the same can be said about racial diversity, there is a certain popular account that seems to rarely post pictures featuring any darker-skinned bloggers. I feel that these feeds have a hand in setting the standard of global beauty, how can anything change when the same old stuff keeps getting peddled?
I have never seen any beauty company IG regram anyone wearing glasses and Benefit
Appear to be another company who run selfie competitions which are won by beautiful/ perfect skin etc young women and only regrsm pictures of …. Girls with flawless or photoshopped faces.
Another just very much appreciated and great article from BBB. Thank you so much. On all level you hit all points. More mature women can look beautiful. Some from how they have grown to be open minded, kind and mature, just are shining from inside out and contribute so much beauty and support on in many ways. I always feel very uplifted when I have the chance to meet one of these kind of women. One is my mother in law who is in her mid eighties. Yes, and about the beauty industry targeting especially the young ones, I often feel their marketing is a huge failure. I’m a so called ‘middle aged’ 😉 women and I love everything about beauty and so do my daughters and we love to exchange our favourite products and experiences.
As ever you have hit the nail on the head, and so concisely too. It’s why your blog is the best – thoughtful, intelligent and always a good read. I have a young daughter and social media terrifies me when it comes to her – I just hope I can I still in her enough wisdom and confidence so she knows that her life and worth has nothing to do with the number of likes she might get for a social media post.
Jane, this might just be my favourite ever post, everything you said rang so true with me and touched on matters I’ve never considered. I used to follow Frank Body but had to unsubscribe because it’s so mentally draining to bombard yourself with that imagery.
In terms of brands reposting images of more varied women, do we have a chicken and the egg problem here? Are the brands not reposting these images of women because they don’t exist – because these women don’t want to upload selfies because they don’t conform to the types of images these brands already publish?
I could not agree more! Well said 🙂
Thank you so very much for this. For the last few years iv really struggled with a disability which has bumped my weight up a fair bit. I’m only 5ft so don’t carry it well but iv found a renewed interest in beauty and I’m enjoying playing with make up etc. I have Instagram for seeing posts from my nail friends but I don’t post. As for the bloggers/youtubers, I can’t quite fondues out who is genuine and who is more false than I drag queens eyelashes! I still enjoy watching the videos etc as I like to try out new looks. Iv just started a new blog and I shall be posting non perfect less than pretty pics 🙂
Figure out*** not fondues
Real people wearing and talking about real make-up is exactly what I love about blogs. I’m with Helena Rubenstein on how any woman can be attractive and I admire people who make the most of what they have – in fact that’s more likely to sell me a product than a perfectly beautiful 17-year-old model who would look good in nearly anything. Advertisers really don’t seem to have cottoned on to that.
Great article! I do post selfies on insta that are filtered, but also non filtered/posed. Its difficult if you use it just for likes, the posed and filtered selfies always get the most likes on my instagram. I wonder if it’s down to friends feeling they have to like it because I posted a photo of myself? Im lucky I’m not the kind of person that’s bothered by how many followers or likes I get (could be because I’m 34? Not sure!) but it’s easy to see how young girls can be so affected by it.
Not a beauty brand but a clothing one, but Mod Cloth is one of the best brands in terms of real diversity in stuff they share on instagram/pinterest etc. I would love to see a beauty brand have similar levels of diversity and real people.
Love this article. I’m in my early 30s, and although I don’t consider myself old, I’ve noticed a lot of brands target people younger than me, so I don’t see any reviews or opinions from people in my age bracket (hence why I’ve started blogging myself). In my day to day job, I see a lot of patients who go on about ‘giving up’ because they’re of a certain age, or look a certain way, they don’t think society cares, so why should they. My response to all of them is the same…. You are beautiful no matter who you are or how old you are, and you should never think otherwise because media tells you so.
I absolutely love this article!
Thank you for this post, Jane… and I completely agree! As a 42-year old beauty blogger (gasp!), I see this all the time, and am worried for my 13-year old daughter, who is allowed on Instagram and who thinks Kylie Jenner’s hideous full-face of war paint is what is considered beautiful. Hear hear and thank you!
I’m so happy you brought this up. It’s such a big issue. One that I definitely feel impacts in ways we don’t even think about. I know from a work perspective I’m always worried about how I look. I remember a big brand concealer commercial from some years ago featuring a very accomplished makeup artist. The commercial was massively ridiculed on social media because people thought the makeup artist wasn’t attractive enough. No one seemed to care that she’s *amazing* at what she does and incredibly insightful about technique, etc. I know I’m not the cutest looking woman on the block so avoid photographs at all costs. However, as a makeup artist, that will hinder me greatly when it comes to being a financial success despite being good at what I do. I miss the days where it was enough that you worked hard and gained credibility through skill. Now I feel like it’s meaningless unless you’re very young and look a certain way. It’s incredibly saddening.
What an excellent article. Really, most excellent. Thank you.