influencers
It can be hard to appreciate someone's aesthetic without comparing it to your own. (Illustration by Jessica Shaklee, University of Georgia)

We are all born with flaws, and what we find easiest to hate about ourselves is our physical imperfections: our legs are the wrong length, or our eyebrows are misshapen. But how do we even know that these things are supposed to be wrong? If you were born with a unibrow, and you only knew one other person, you would never know that you had any “imperfections.” Since the dawn of humanity, humans have compared themselves to other people they see or come in contact with, but modern technology has taken these comparisons to the next level, because the people we see are influencers who present an unattainable goal.

It’s hard to look in the mirror and recognize your worth; because of this, we have taken to social media to gather the approval we so desperately crave from others. We want them to tell us that we’re pretty, funny and just so creative. With every like and every positive comment, we gain an inch of self-esteem. It’s unfortunate that, even with all of this positive motivation, it continually discourages the hearts of people everywhere through the work of social media influencers.

An influencer is someone with a great deal of wealth and good looks, who has chosen (or been hired) to represent ideal lifestyles. They are the ones that wear the most beautiful clothing on gorgeous vacations presenting their “real world” experiences, which we neglect to remind ourselves have been manipulated into looking exactly like what everyone wishes they could have. Influencers, as a whole, form one giant advertisement, and it’s one that takes a steel wool sponge to young girls’ self-images.

Popular influencers are typically celebrities, and they have what society has decided is the ‘ideal body type’ — people like Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Elsa Hosk. They can afford to travel and eat the finest foods, but the trick is that they present these as casual affairs. And for them, of course, they are; they’re gorgeous multi-millionaires who can get anything and do whatever they want.

But what this says to the people sitting on their beds, who are checking their phones because it’s a Tuesday night and they have nothing to do, is that their life is ugly, that they are ugly and that the only way to fix themselves is to spend their money on anything that will cure their imperfections.

This is all wrong. We are all animals, just roaming around this Earth; each of us is unique, and if there really was supposed to be just one way to look and act, we would have biologically adapted to be these things.

So what is the trendiest thing you can be this summer? It’s you! Use social media to express who you are to the world, and let those likes reinforce the real beauty that you forgot you had. Here are some useful tips to be you and be on top:

1. Dress for yourself

New styles are popping out of every corner, as new looks become not only more accessible, but also more acceptable. Find clothes that fit you and your inner style, rather than what you think someone else would rock.

2. Take a few days to understand your face without makeup

So many women these days are scared to leave the house without makeup because we are taught early on, through Barbies, TV and magazines, that a beautiful woman wears rouge, and it can be shocking to hear that someone thinks we look beautiful without makeup because we have rejected that idea altogether. It’s time to get to know your face and discover the beauty of your natural features.

3. Find celebrities who have their own flaws

When we can see someone embracing their differences in a positive way, it pushes us to embrace our own. This is an example of a positive influencer.

4. Spend less time on your phone

This one might sound counterintuitive, but while social media can bring people together from around the world and give us those little boosts of self-encouragement, we need to take some time to get to know ourselves and what our own brand is. To do this, we need to step away from our accounts, and the images we present as ourselves.

5. Finally, remember that they are human too

We are all people; even the influencers we look up to on social media experience day-to-day sadness and disappointment. They crop, edit and pose, just like you do. We aren’t going to post the bad stuff.

Forgetting the influence these celebrities have on us doesn’t mean you have to push away any ideas you have about beauty; for many of us, that would mean tearing down the shell of self-confidence we’ve built around us like a safety blanket, making us feel vulnerable and different.

It means learning to become comfortable with yourself, and understanding why your differences are the very thing that make you beautiful. It’s about having a healthier mentality, and learning to forgive yourself in order to lead a more comfortable, enriching life, because it’s unhealthy to constantly compare yourself to people who don’t look like you or think like you, or who come from different financial backgrounds than you do. You will always come up short when you compare yourself to them.

Don’t worry so much about what you think your personal image should be; just be yourself. And just remember: influencers are the people who became famous because they were different than the rest.

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