Edit Me Pretty

Riniki Sanyal
Published: May 2016

Clicking selfies for every occasion is quite a rage these days and editing them before an upload on the social media, seems to be the next big thing.

editI had a hearty laugh on reading a post one of my schoolmates shared on her Facebook wall. It read, “Stop editing your pics. What if you go missing? How can we find you if you look like Beyonce on Facebook and Waka Flocka in person?”

No offences to Waka Flocka here but the framing of words to induce humour have much more to it than mere jocularity. And what may seem as an online trend is fast metamorphosing into a perception disorder for many.

A friend at a wedding was seen clicking incessant selfies and editing them. “A bit of colour enhancement and adding lights to the photo can do wonders,” she said, which left me thinking what defined the word ‘wonders’ for her. Young girls are often seen tucking their tummy, drawing in cheeks to highlight cheekbones, all of this to make them look desirable on Facebook. While some admit that a pic which draws many likes is a feel-good factor for them, some others vehemently deny it and yet end up conforming to false perceptions of beauty on the web. Fair, petite, pouting lips, what-have-you define beauty on social networks since they tend to invite more likes than a more realistic picture of oneself. I have often wondered why girls need Facebook/Instagram friends to validate their beauty. It holds true that most girls or perhaps all of us want to look good. Besides, it does feel nice to be appreciated for looking beautiful or wearing a certain colour. But how much of it is being yourself if you end up manufacturing a counterfeit image just to fit into the frame of social media desirability.

On one hand, social media wages a war against stereotypes used against women by throwing a number of write-ups against inherent biases and spawning debate over them. On the other hand, there are girls and women who practice these very biases on themselves to be desirable. The nature of these antithetical expressions on the forum running parallel to one another depicts the social network as a complex platform for exchange of expressions. To create a perception of beauty based on validation from this network is entirely fallacious, and so is the urge to fit in.

That smile on a girl’s face, the way she does her hair, the colours which make her feel good about herself, that slight bulge in her tummy or that square jaw makes her beautiful with or without the presence of any intervention from Facebook. She is entitled to her whims and fancies over what looks good on her or how she can camouflage flaws. Although going by set definitions of beauty as expressed on the web may bring numerous likes to her joy, yet it only goes on to create a false sense of self in the virtual world. That edited photo is not her real self and those puckered up lips don’t make her beautiful, it only breeds insecurities and makes her unhappy eventually, making her see the unnecessary need to edit every photograph of hers. If the idea indeed is to look beautiful, surely social media is not the one to validate it.

 - Riniki Sanyal is a student of Journalism and a freelance journalist.