In reaction to CoverGirl's selection of James Charles as new beauty ambassador, as well in reaction to the Instagram-makeup aesthetic, ManiGeek and I have been having a bit of a discussion with friends about what appears to be "promoting makeup as unattainable plastic face for insecure teens."
Obviously we're not alone in our "plastic face" debate: as part of their "Define Beauty" series, nowness.com recently published a short film on the subject. Made by London-based director Marie Schuller, it's a disturbing look at what young kids and pre-teens are facing in this age of social-media saturation.
The makeup in this film is obviously inspired by Instagram beauty trends, and the things these children say were likely (hopefully) scripted. The overall concept is creepy and distressing, isn't it?
I don't think it's news that kids really do feel this way, though – I felt like this as a child and know lots of other kids did too. I think we're fooling ourselves if we think insecurity about appearance can ever be fully vanquished. Sure, some people never feel it. Others learn to cope with it. Some never find their way out from underneath it. Seems like it's the way we're built. Judging based on what we see is an innate human trait – that's why we live in a world in which beauty is so highly prized.
Every generation from the beginning of time has had a beauty standard that many attempt to achieve with varying degrees of success. Unfortunately, these days, we – kids and adults alike – are more likely to feel battered by current beauty standards thanks to social media as well as media in general. Let's not even get into the subject of trolls.
We've talked before about pre-teens and makeup, here, here and here. We're all about enhancement, not covering up. And we understand that people have different taste when it comes to how they choose to wear makeup. Indeed, even on Instagram you'll still (occasionally) see fresh-faced beauty. But is today's very public quest for facial perfection dangerous for kids?
Obviously not everyone judges on physical appearance. But what makes those people who place less value on beauty different? Is the ability to see past the surface – to appreciate past the surface – also innate? Or can it be taught? Can it be learned?
How can we temper today's onslaught of "perfect-beauty" images so kids can still learn to appreciate their unique selves?
So many questions. What say you?