Many of us of a particular age can remember the iconic, deity-like status of the likes of Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss – both are still very much present in imagery sprawled across the Internet. However, they were distanced and beyond reach courtesy of the nature of PR, the semi secret acceptance of airbrushing at the time, and the lack of easy access now provided by social media.
Today the stars of reality TV and Instgram go to places we can go, they tell us all the products they use and proffer videos on how to use them. While their online lives may be carefully curated, many take pride in showcasing the sweaty workouts and the make-up free selfies, at least in theory. Equally, when they are putting their best foot forward, it’s often in line with highstreet accessible treatments including a Love Island worthy fake tan or a Hollywood white smile. In short, they at the very least give the impression of being more accessible goals and they might, heaven forbid, be just like us.
Well obviously, we know it’s not. While the lid may have been lifted on airbrushing and Vanity Fair may well have had its knuckles rapped by Kate Winslet, now we are all photographers with access to some seriously effective filters.
We are our own arbiters of what we share, very publicly, and from Joe Bloggs to Kim Kardashian, we showcase what we want in order to be perceived a certain way, which is invariably the best version of ourselves – with a few strategic exceptions. In the same way that the Hollywood machine would have traditionally choreographed a profile for the supermodels and rockstars of times gone by, now we can do it for our own personal brand.
Also, just because a beauty standard is more accessible, doesn’t make it healthy. Even the yoga minded, health oriented trends can be damaging when taken to extremes or adopted obsessively, with therapists reporting that chronic FOMO/fear of missing out, is driving social media addiction.
The study reported that one in 20 people (5%) are at “high risk” of becoming dependent on their favourite networking apps, while another backed the hypothesis that social media encourages an obsession with image and body image in particular – which is no healthier when it’s idolising the famous Kardashian bottom, than it is when aspiring to minute model proportions because either way, it can become obsessive.
It is a topic that Fashion Editor Bethan Holt discussed beautifully in The Telegraph recently, from her own perspective as a teenager with anorexia to a fashion editor today. In it, she worried about the mixed messages bombarding young minds through social media, and questioned the impact it would have had on her own mental health, had social media existed during her own formative years.
All of this said, there has been an undeniable shift in what, where and how we idolise. Reality TV stars who have cleaned up their acts to achieve healthier weights, exercise made cool, the popularisation of moderated or minimal alcohol consumption, and a move towards trying to understand our diets better.
There has been a shift towards strength and fitness rather than super skinny (unless that’s your natural shape), and there is also an increasingly open discussion about mental health and anxiety, championed by the likes of Princes Harry and William, and the Duchess of Cambridge.
To some extent it feels as though there is a bit of a revolt against the inaccessible, the super perfect. We have seen the likes of Rebecca Vardy photographed in the weeks after giving birth and showcasing her ‘mum tum’ to encourage new mums to celebrate the reality of a post baby body and not to feel under pressure to lose weight.
Even when the Insta-perfect photos are on display, celebrities and influencers alike are quick to point out the amount of work that went into the image. Blake Lively for example often posts photos at Hollywood events with captions reminding her followers of the work that has gone into her look.
One such photo recently included the caption: “Please, women at home, never forget it takes a bus full of people to make us look bangin’ for red carpets. Thank you to my [bus].”
Please, women at home, never forget it takes a bus full of people to make us look bangin’ for red carpets. Thank you to my ?: @kristoferbuckle @rodortega4hair @enamelle @ofirajewelz @lorraineschwartz @brandonmaxwell @judithleiberny @louboutinworld @chanelofficial @jacquieaiche @ronacolor (AND to @sophia.travaglia and @serafinosays for squeezing my ribs into my dress.) …And you thought I was exaggerating with the whole “bus” thing. ??
A post shared by Blake Lively (@blakelively) on
So while we continue to live in an imperfect world with its mixed messaging and all, perhaps one of the positives is transparency. It is the buzzword of the media age, but perhaps within it lies something positive for the way we approach health, wellbeing and body image.
There is more information than ever bombarding us, but then again there’s probably a greater likelihood of finding your own ‘tribe’. Everyone with an iPhone has the capacity to become an influencer, but more and more people are being mindful of articulating what is real and what is not. And when it comes to reality TV stars… well, at least know they’re human after all.
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