Feeling the Surface of Beauty

Just in case you missed Newhouse’s conversation on Social Media & Democracy – Activism in the Digital Age featuring professors Biko Mandela Gray, Dwight Dewerth-Pallmeyer, and Tia C.M. Tyree. I will fill you in because the conversation got me thinking about how much social media shapes our perception of beauty as a society.

All three speakers spoke about how the pace of social media does not allow for critical thinking. After hearing this, I asked myself if I could imagine a world that would allow a person to make critical decisions, that could affect millions of people, while only having the single qualification of looking good. Unfortunately, as pointed out in some of the conversations being had about activism, the world has given power to people that offer a lot less.

Please do not get me wrong, I love a good looking person just as much as the next girl, but what really turns me on is an authentic person. This person would be similar to Dr. Gray in the fact that he was able to articulate complex injustices surrounding civic engagement, the #MeToo movement and even the ever eluded history of black people in America. His fluency and knowledge are concepts I believe our new age is missing.

To support my suspicion of a misinformed new age, Dr. Tyree, went on to talk about how smart smartphones are. Think about your phone, is there something it cannot do or at least give you the answer to? Don’t worry, I am having a tough time thinking of something too.

While we are on the topics of smartphones, social media and since my entire blog is focused on public relations within the beauty industry, let us talk about Instagram. I am sure you have heard that every picture posted on Instagram is fake. Not in the idea that whatever photographed does not exist, but instead the photo itself gives a false depiction of what is truly happening.

woman in makeup
Photo by Eye for Ebony on Unsplash

For example take this photo of an absolutely gorgeous woman. Personally, I do not know who took this photo, why they took it, or how long it took to take, but what I do know is how it makes me feel. Feelings are a concept that come up quite often in public relations because as Dr. Regina Luttrell mentions in her book, Social Media – How to Engage, Share, and Connect, our number one rule as a influencer is to ‘follow, listen and react.’ After listening to the social experts and data, this photo of a happy person makes most people feel sad.

If you ask me to describe how this photo makes me feel, I would have to say, envious. Whether it is how she has managed to pull off a purple lip, or how big her smile is, the picture is perfect. Dr. Dewerth-Pallmeyer said the cure to this sort of picture envy could be to simply turn off the screen. As a millennial, I find it hard to turn off any screen before 1 a.m. Not just because I am waiting for the latest new Jeffree Star approved beauty product; I also often choose to use my smartphone to stay up-to-date on current events, on a wide range of topics because as Dr. Tyree put it “social media is the medium of the moment.”