What is a body worth: how the internet has curated insecurities

Jessica Sarrach ‘24, Lyonlife.org Editor-in-Chief

Youth is an impressionable period of time filled with uncertainty. Because everyone at some level wants to fit in, we look to those around us for inspiration; but, recently apps like TikTok have become the place youth look for role models. Some creators make silly videos, some showcase home makeovers, some follow gaming or music content, and some explore the broad category of beauty. Due to the large scope of material, TikTok has become a breeding ground for insecurity. If you like your body, take a few minutes on the app and content creators will find a way to make you hate your cellulite, hip dips, philtrum, and buccal fat—areas of our bodies we would not even think to be insecure of unless we were told to be. TikTok is a capitalistic app full of entrepreneurs, and as such, any insecurities prodded at on TikTok offer new opportunities in the beauty industry for consumption. Are bodies just a trend? Has beauty become so skin-deep that we can no longer find self-worth until we match these trends? Or, should people hold more worth than a TikTok trend?

Teenage girls have, at large, been the target of unachievable beauty standards for centuries. Through each period of time, different body types have been idolized in the face of womanhood. Ancient Greeks detailed the beautiful woman to be full-bodied and fair-skinned, the roaring twenties considered a short bob and “boyish figure” as desirable, and the golden age of Hollywood notoriously worshiped the hourglass figure. Historically, women are made to change themselves in an attempt to appease others and largely in an attempt to appease themselves.

 While body types were the focal point of trends in the past, they have never been so easily weaponized as in the last decade. The internet has made beauty as transferable as trading cards. Every month or so a new trend appears, taking the internet by storm, and convincing many they need to change in order to feel beautiful. Insecurities are constantly enforced through new makeup, cosmetic surgery, or clothing trends highlighted on the internet. Junior Megan McCollum said, “

In May of 2022, the internet was obsessed with the hourglass body shape. Media clung to the Kardashians as beauty gurus shepherding the new age of beauty. YouTube was swarmed with workout videos entitled, “how to achieve the perfect hourglass shape,” TikTok praised women who were showcased as having their “ideal” body type and degraded those who did not, and even sites such as Pinterest were apt to follow the trend, detailing style guides on how you should dress to provide the illusion of an hourglass figure. Just six months later, the internet turned its praise towards a different type of figure that was highlighted in a viral New York Post story, which said, “ waving goodbye to “booty” and officially declaring heroin chic ‘back’.” This new standard of beauty applauded extreme thinness, dark under eye bags, and disgruntled clothing—earning its name due to the high amount of heroin users that have become malnourished and stopped taking care of themselves due to their addictions. Media turned its attention to the possibility of the Kardashians having their Brazilian Butt Lifts removed and fashion began praising low-rise jeans and mini Uggs boots, trends known for highlighting the thin figure. Even Vogue magazine released an article which wrote, “Thin is, once again, back in folks. Whether it be on catwalks or in campaigns, fashion has been all clavicles, concave stomachs and visible hip bones as of late.”

We have become too complicit in letting the media decide how we should value ourselves. It can be fun to indulge in superficial makeup and clothing trends, but at some point, lines need to be drawn. There is beauty in versatility, and a fast trend should not change how we feel or act in regard to ourselves.

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