Social media has had a massive impact on how we spend our time, how we make social connections, how we converse with others, and numerous other aspects of our daily life. Companies claim that they have lost a lot of money based on the amount of time workers are sneakily checking facebook instead of getting on with their job, and most individuals would admit they have spent too long on social media, scrolling through newsfeeds and pictures of people they don’t even know on instagram. Because of the huge amount of time individuals dedicate to these sites, companies have embraced social media as a way of reaching out to consumers, build relationships, converse, and even collect data (by measuring number of clicks, hashtags, mentions and retweets). This can be both hugely positive, and hugely negative.
On the positive side, companies can reach out to a large number of people, and project their brand characteristics and ‘voice’ to both current customers, and to new customers alike. The social media addict feels like they can ‘talk’ to the company, and can gain a sense of ‘who the company is’ based on their previous posts. It’s also a fabulous way to spread ideas, reaching and connecting a huge number of individuals. On the negative side, it can be difficult to control the content being shared, and needs to be managed 24/7 (one complaint from a customer could be seen by thousands in a matter of minutes, and therefore needs to be dealt with asap).
With this in mind, I thought I would venture into the use of social media using the example of the recent trend of the #nomakeupselfie – the idea being that females would take a picture of themselves without make-up and upload it onto a social media site, at the same time donating to a cancer charity. The aim was to raise money and awareness of the charity, and overall the trend raised over 8 million pounds. Whilst the charity in question did not start the trend, they soon got involved by posting their own ‘selfies’ along with thanks to everyone who had taken part.
But is the #nomakeupselfie and the social media platforms used a force for good, bad, or even a little bit of both?
All the discussions I have read following the #nomakeupselfie trend have been incredibly diverse – some people suggesting it’s a feminist issue, and that taking pictures of yourself without make-up and posting it like it’s something strange or unusual is ultimately a negative thing for women. This is not helped by the many comments following such pictures where women have been asked to stop because ‘their faces just aren’t pretty without make-up’. Despite this, many see the trend as a force for good – raising awareness and money with something as simple as a picture. How fab!
Personally, I think it all depends on your own personal opinions/experiences and if it’s an issue to some people than it is definitely a discussion worth having. I have a wonderful partner who thinks (and tells me) that I am beautiful without make-up, and more importantly, am JUST AS BEAUTIFUL regardless of whether I’m wearing make-up or not. Yet I, like many women, have insecurities about not wearing make-up. When I was 16/17, my boyfriend at the time told me that I shouldn’t wear my glasses, because I look better without them. He went on to say that I should wear make-up, because I look better with it. If a comment such as this was made to me now, the guy would be getting a swift kick out of the door! But back then as a young impressionable teen wanting to make it work with her high-school boyfriend, this unquestionably had some sort of an effect on my self esteem, and it certainly wasn’t positive. Would I have a different outlook on how I look naturally if I had never dated this boy? Would I be confident enough to leave the house without make-up if I had been dating someone who told me I looked lovely no matter what? The insecurity is so deep rooted now that it’ll probably take long time for me to feel as confident without make-up as I do when I’m wearing it.
The fact that I struggle with the idea of going to the corner shop without a touch of mascara and concealer is worrisome, and it concerns me to think of other girls who feel this way too.
Men don’t help matters when they comment that a girl would be prettier with make-up on, or that they look ugly without. If men were posting ‘selfies’ to raise money and awareness for a charity, I would think it disgraceful behaviour if women went around commenting on their pictures which ones were ugly or handsome, and which would look better if they covered their spots or dark circles with concealer. Yes, that example might sound absurd, but just because women wearing make-up is an accepted part of our world doesn’t make it acceptable to criticise our appearance without, and I don’t think that a lot of people realise (or care…) how much effect it has or how deeply it hurts our feelings when we are criticised.
The whole discussion about the no make-up matter makes me question how on earth men would react if all cosmetic production was halted and women everywhere stopped wearing make-up altogether. Would they go around pointing out the physical flaws of women and tell the girls to cover their faces? How would they like it if we approached men with acne and told them to wear something to cover it so that our eyes didn’t have to be offended by such a sight? Would they find it hurtful? How would they respond?
But I don’t believe even for a second that it is only men contributing to this absurdity that a woman can only be pretty when wearing make-up. Everytime a girl posts a picture of something derogatory in replacement of her own face and labels it #nomakeupselfie is adding to her own insecurities and in the wider context, is unassumingly supporting the notion that girls can’t be good looking without foundation and mascara.
I have found it really interesting reading both sides of the debate: that it should all be taken light-heartedly and the negative comments are just a bit of humour AND that it is a deeper issue than that and should be acknowledged as such.
I’m not particularly taking any ‘stance’ as such on this – but I have to say that if I posted a nomakeupselfie and someone commented asking me to take the picture down or to put make-up on because I look better with my face covered with chemicals – I would be hugely offended – not because I think I look good without make-up, but because it is incredibly rude, offensive, and tantamount to calling someone ugly, which is unnecessary, aggressive, and demonstrates a complete lack of respect for others and their feelings.
Social media plays a wonderful role in life, connecting people and ideas from across the globe, expanding businesses, and raising money and awareness for charities and causes. Yet it has a darker side too – one of which is hard to monitor and control. I fear that the spreading of negative ideas and bad behaviour could negate the positive aspects, and it is important to remember this when exposing yourself to all aspects of social media.
It would be really interesting to hear other people’s thoughts on this topic, as social media is a topic that really interests me. I’d love to be directed to more examples of when social media has had an positive/negative impact, and your opinions on the matter. I am neither a social media advocate or hater – but I am interested in the influence it has on people’s lives.
Thanks for reading!