I had the pleasure of hearing Amy Kean, VP of Strategy and Planning at Beamly, part of the major beauty conglomerate Coty, at this year's Silicon Beach conference in Bournemouth.
She gave a fascinating talk using the mirror and people's relationship with it over history as a jumping off point for a consideration of the fragility of human self esteem, and the impact digital media has had, particularly on psychology of women.
According to research cited during her talk, women look at mirrors on average 38 times per day, compared to 18 times for men. Social media research conducted by Coty indicated that 8 out of ten women are dissatisfied with their reflections, and 70% of comments on social media in relation to their own reflections are negative. The Ted Talk by Meaghan Ramsey of the Dove Self Esteem Project was cited, which says that 10,000 people a month Google the phrase "am I ugly", with the majority of these being young women.
Many will ask is this a problem which has always existed, but Amy Kean compellingly argued that modern technology, far from just enabling us to better measure this effect, is actively contributing to it. She cited apps to help touch-up or tweak photos which have proliferated, with Modiface, the "customer virtual makeup app" seeing 30m downloads since it has launched. What's more, according to research performed in-house by Coty, the average woman has over 500x more opportunities to see her reflection in the 21st century than she would in the 18th century. And, clearly, this has not had a positive effect.
There are brands which are looking to change this story, however. A recent Sleek make-up campaign, featuring a diverse group of men and women using Sleek's products, with the campaign slogan #MyFaceMyRules was cited as a campaign encouraging a more positive, assertive mental image.
It was a thought-provoking talk, and one that makes us question our relationship not just with social media but our own reflection. There were a number of videos shown from YouTube of young girls asking the internet if they were ugly, which are a heart-breaking watch for anyone with a sister, niece or daughter.
Clearly, brands have a responsibility to use more realistic images of men and women in their campaigns. Influencers have a responsibility to post more realistic images of themselves online too. But we as social media users need to do our bit too. If we unfollow accounts which promote an unrealistic physical image, and if we post and share more realistic images of ourselves, perhaps we can affect a change "bottom-up".
About 10,000 people a month Google the phrase, “Am I ugly?” Meaghan Ramsey of the Dove Self-Esteem Project has a feeling that many of them are young girls. In a deeply unsettling talk, she walks us through the surprising impacts of low body and image confidence—from lower grade point averages to greater risk-taking with drugs and alcohol. And then shares the key things all of us can do to disrupt this reality.