Fashion + Body Image

Fashion & Body Image

Over the years the fashion industry has come under increasing pressure surrounding its expectations of models’ physiques. A number of models have highlighted this topic in the media. Many deem the industry’s expectations regarding body image, to be detrimental to their physical and mental health. Therefore, the industry should be held accountable for this and change has been necessary for a number of years.

In light of this, the industry has experienced a clear change in its attitude towards more diverse body types during the past few years. Consequently, there is larger acceptance in the industry towards plus size models, and those that don’t necessarily fit societal norms. As a result, we are finally witnessing the industry celebrate diversity. This is something that has been a huge turning point in the industry and is a welcomed change. Unfortunately, this hasn’t always been the case.

It is possible to argue that social media platforms have been one of the key factors driving this change. Models, who celebrate diversity, have experienced huge success on social media platforms like Instagram. Models including Ashley Graham and Iskra Lawrence boast large followings on the platform and as a result, have found incredible success which has excelled their careers. They have changed industry perspectives on plus size models through their work, which has been refreshing to see. Therefore, variety is now something that the fashion industry is showcasing and the response to this has been incredible.

The effect that Instagram has had on how we perceive ourselves

Instagram has become an enormously popular social media platform in recent years. The platform boasts an estimated 80 million uploads by users per day. However, a large proportion of the images uploaded to Instagram are retouched and enhanced, using filters and editing apps. This provides the platform’s users with unrealistic and idealised portrayals of individuals’ lives and their appearance. Inevitably, these images also contribute to the portrayal of a false replica of the world that we live in.

A large number of Instagram users compare themselves daily to the high volume of edited images uploaded to the platform. Most often not accounting for the unrealistic nature of the images. Unsurprisingly, comparing yourself to doctored images online can have a detrimental effect on how you perceive yourself. It is clear that Instagram has contributed somewhat to the negativity people experience surrounding body image.

The normality of editing images on the platform has opened up a world of hate. Many individuals who regularly post on the platform have touched on the negativity that they receive from other uses; including degrading comments about their appearance. It is clear to see that these comments have a huge impact on how people perceive their bodies and in turn, the effect that they have on their own mental health.

Therefore, it is likely that in a world of airbrushed images, people feel uncomfortable uploading organic pictures of themselves. It is extremely sad that we have shied away from celebrating natural beauty. Hopefully, this is something that we as a society can change in the near future.

Do online trolls encourage editing?

It is hardly surprising that individuals are affected by the negative comments that they receive concerning their appearance online. This appears to have become a main cause as to why many people feel encouraged to edit their images. It is without doubt, that these personal attacks online have significant effects on how individuals perceive their bodies.

In light of this, many reality stars have highlighted how online hate and negativity can have a huge impact on an individual’s mental health. Some have even talked about how negative comments and attacks towards their own appearance online, has led them to permanently change the way they look, through the use of surgery.

Whilst there is a small proportion of people online who write negative comments and attack others’ appearance, this is not true of everyone. For the most part, Instagram is a positive platform where diversity can be celebrated. Moving forward, I hope to see more being done to put an end to the negativity that we see and are subject to online.

How do social media influencers impact how we perceive ourselves?

In recent years, social media influencers have been hailed to be more relatable than traditional celebrities. With this in mind, does having more people regard social media influencers as individuals they can compare themselves to, cause more harm?

Social media influencers are well-known for editing the content that they share online. Their role seems to have become centred around providing an idealised version of their daily lives. This is a far cry from the normal lives that the majority of us lead. Therefore, it is possible that comparing ourselves to such content, is having detrimental effects on how we perceive ourselves. 

However, this isn’t the case for all influencers, and it would be unfair to generalise them all in this way. There are increasing numbers of people online who share raw images. These individuals help to gently remind us that the images we compare ourselves to online, aren’t always true reflections of reality. They show that no one is perfect and that we should embrace our imperfections.

Has the fashion industry become more accepting?

Most brands in the fashion industry seem to have embraced this new model. This has been extremely refreshing to see. Asos is one of many brands who appear to celebrate diversity. The brand even state that their Instagram profile is a judgement-free zone. It would be amazing to see more brands adopt this attitude in the near future.

Whilst it has been great to see so many brands work towards creating a more accepting culture within the fashion industry, the same can not be said for all. For a number of years, Victoria’s Secret refused to include a more diverse line up for their annual runway show. Many other brands have mirrored this attitude over the years. Thus contributing to the long battle that the industry has faced regarding acceptance.

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