Almost two-thirds of young people (61%) feel pressure to look their best online, according to new research from the Be Real Campaign. The alarming report has also revealed that more than two thirds (67%) regularly worry about the way they look.
In response to this pressure, the research found that more than two-thirds of young people (67%) edit photos of themselves before posting them on social media and nearly a quarter (23%) spent more than five minutes doing so, with some taking over an hour. These edits would typically include removing blemishes (11%), smoothing their skin (10%), and whitening their teeth (7%).
Less than a fifth of young people (16%) said that looking at social media positively affected how confident they felt about the way they look.
When asked what could be done to change this more than two-fifths of young people (43%) said that people should unfollow accounts that promote negative messages about the way people look to promote body confidence on their social media channels.
In many cases, the pressure young people feel to look their best in the content they post online is an extension of their every day insecurities. However, when coupled with photo editing tools and public approval systems through the form of ‘likes’, social media provides young people with a focal point for their insecurities.
‘The Curate Escape’ examines how these insecurities manifest themselves through the content young people post on their social media channels, and what can be done to help ease the pressures they face.
Social media presents young people with the opportunity to hone their image, curating a perception of themselves that they think will be acceptable in their digital world. Altering and adjusting the photos they post of themselves online provides young people with a key means for curating this online image.
Celebrities and social media influencers also have a role to play. More than half of young people (53%) said that celebrities and influencers sharing more realistic images of themselves would encourage people to post content that more accurately reflect what they look like in real life.
The fieldwork for this research was conducted by YouthSights, a specialist youth research agency. The sample consisted of 2,189 young people aged between 11 and 24 years-old from across the UK. The fieldwork for this research was carried out in April 2019.