“TikTok pretty”: Beauty is more of a public performance than ever

“Choice can not make an unjust or exploitative follow or act one way or the other, magically, simply or non-exploitative.” — Heather Widdows, “Perfect Me.”
Forty-five minutes per day, occasions roughly 5 days a week, occasions 52 weeks a yr, and eventually by 4 years: 46,800 minutes, or 780 hours over the past 4 years spent doing my make-up. And it’s a conservative estimate at that — one which seemingly doesn’t account for the hours amassed spent despising my look in back-camera images, touching up lip gloss within the mirror, and the wealth of self-maintenance practices starting from pores and skin to hair to nails to physique — you get the gist.
I typically discover myself curious what motivates this extremely time-consuming, ritualistic want for self-maintenance and presentation virtually ubiquitous amongst girls; it’s a query particularly salient in my thoughts once I forcibly extricate myself from the vices of deep slumber to prepare at 7 a.m. earlier than an 8 a.m. examination. There’s undeniably a diploma of fact to understanding these borderline compulsions as motivated by self-satisfaction. I do genuinely take pleasure in placing on make-up typically, and reveling in a particular, affected person happiness in filling out its myriad of dainty and perfectionistic particulars. 
And it’s tempting to cease right here; to not enterprise additional in our understanding of, admittedly, a deeply sophisticated and private concern. Though I don’t imply to remove the sense of real empowerment many would possibly derive from these practices, many ladies will insist that they placed on make-up fully for themselves, rejecting any sense of acknowledgement to the position that social or patriarchal strain would possibly play. 
But, I’d argue, this alone is insufficient to elucidate the current craze round bodily look, particularly contemplating the narcissistic but intensely self-critical fashionable attitudes in the direction of look that pervade each nook of social media. The “alternative feminism” which pushes claims of make-up being for make-up’s sake ignores the truth that magnificence has seemingly grow to be a matter of public affirmation: one thing to not be privately treasured or realized, however as a substitute one thing that, in its highest, most desired type, attracts a kind of common and goal consensus — one which necessitates publicization to achieve. 
Modern conceptions of magnificence are additionally extremely comparative — how else are we to elucidate phrases like “TikTok fairly,” or “a New York 10” versus a “Miami 10”? The former is inextricably tied to the sort of universally acknowledged magnificence commonplace that generates the specified, viral reward which subsequently consecrates a person’s categorization as “TikTok fairly.” If we take a have a look at the feedback garnered by a put up by somebody deemed “TikTok fairly,” they’re crammed with ladies — often younger and impressionable — commenting self-deprecating issues or expressing their need to achieve the sort of magnificence that they understand the poster to have. What’s more, beliefs of magnificence comparable to a “Miami 10” or different contextual designations are extremely interconnected to exterior, metropolitan privileges which can be afforded to those that match these beliefs: limitless reward, free drinks, and free entrance to coveted or luxurious locations. 
There’s one thing deeply ironic and darkly humorous about this tradition of visible comparability and categorization, which is so pervasive that the Internet’s try at being self-aware about how patriarchal pressures affect magnificence requirements solely end in phrases like “woman fairly” and “boy fairly” — regressive, patronizing phrases which rapidly proved to be as categorically ineffective as they’re demeaning. Among those that used and endorsed these phrases, a widespread thread gave the impression to be that pure, “pure” magnificence was understood to be “woman fairly,” whereas heavy make-up and curvy our bodies had been termed “boy fairly” for allegedly attracting primarily male affirmation. It’s sickening to consider how the product of supposed self-awareness was solely additional competitors between and degradation of girls — typically girls of colour — who, typically by no alternative of their very own, had been designated publicly as garnering both the apparently sacred reward of girls or the prying, objectifying reward of males.
It’s exhausting, actually, and horrid to digest in its entirety; to reckon with the self-scrutinizing, minimizing social panorama that is the present inescapable state of social media. Yet, the explosive development of this tradition of excessive vainness is not essentially unwarranted or baseless, even regardless of largely being the product of power Internet discourse. 
Beyond the financial privileges of free drinks and free entry, there’s a rising understanding of the dimension of social capital and privilege that may be achieved by magnificence. The associations between attractiveness and private success are confirmed and nothing new, however the modern media’s incessant promotion of magnificence and its pursuit as a key side of womanhood facilities magnificence as an crucial for all girls and feminine-presenting individuals, not simply for individuals who are particularly curious about skincare or make-up. Subtle associations — like how a daring lip or fierce eyeliner emboldens a more fiery or alluring character, or how pure make-up creates a model of you that is “you however higher” — enforces concepts that one of the best model of your self is not your self, however a model of you that is altered. 
Admittedly, this mindset is one which I’m deeply conversant in. If I’m to be significantly self-diagnostic, I’d say there are particular points of my character that I really feel snug expressing solely once I really feel that I embody a sure bodily model of myself — one which I really feel is appropriately congruent. It feels dystopian and embarrassing to confess, however I really feel that I can solely justify authority, or any semblance of it, when my bodily look “substantiates” it. Put otherwise, my confidence and capability for management is virtually straight tied to my sense of feeling visually “good.” And this type of considering isn’t essentially baseless — I’ve observed real variations in the way in which individuals deal with me, and their stage of consideration or respect in the direction of my phrases relying on my look. Try as I’d to mitigate this sense, I discover it virtually inconceivable to rid myself of the sensation that my face, unaltered, tasks naivete and immaturity in a means that stands in direct opposition to the sort of particular person I want to be.
Sadly, this sort of considering doesn’t happen in isolation — fairly the alternative, it appears, given how large the sweetness and skincare business have grow to be. Without denying the non-public success facet of self-care practices like skincare or make-up, there is worth in recognizing the predatory nature of such industries, which revenue straight from producing new insecurities and treating look prefer it is rotatable and adjustable — a remedy not in contrast to that of trend developments. There are clearly problematic points to this; even with out delving into the assorted penalties of quick trend, there is nothing disposable about our bodily look like clothes may be, and thus such remedy can simply create a perpetual cycle of self-criticism and dissatisfaction. 
It is tough, and simpler mentioned than finished, nevertheless it is in our greatest curiosity to acknowledge the position that social strain performs in creating our need to be lovely. We can not change society and its generations of precedent in a single day, however we are able to work to higher our remedy of others, and, most significantly, ourselves.


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