Social Media and the Banality of Perfection

The illusion of perfection is something we are all subjected to in one way or another.

It is all about the airbrushed celebrities and sudo-social media celebrities. Marketed fads and glossy sameness manipulated for a mass audience. The image of the perfect body, cake, courgetti, or designer kitchen are promoted on a daily basis in magazines, advertising campaigns and now across many forms of social media. It is prescriptive, idealistic and totally not healthy.

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The disheartening thing is we have all become used to this idea of perfection, as a benchmark of self improvement and something that is healthy to strive towards. Something that is achievable. Its not just magazines, but now also websites and blogs that push people to ‘fit in’ to a certain ideal, or way of living. There should act like this, dress like this, eat like this. The thing is that the fads are movable. So are the photos, the faces, the stories and the promises.

The awful thing is that magazines, advertisers and bloggers seem to believe they have to produce this cultural lighthouse in order to be heard, respected and acknowledged, by their readers. They create new cultural norms, exacerbating the odd sub-universe of perfection in order to sell things.

A few months ago Rebel Wilson was put on the cover of a women’s magazine. The article focus was about what it took for her to break into male dominated comedy as a women. In what I thought was a poor representation, it was just her face on the cover, half covered with hair, obviously photoshopped. They might as well have made it the back of her head. For a magazine to take the plunge and take a different stance to the waifish models that usually grace the covers, is a positive step, but here, it looked like they panicked. Perhaps they under estimated that having her in full shot, body included would sell covers too. Certainly I am more interested in hearing what Rebel has to say that anything, but I don’t doubt it is this underestimation of the public’s interest that keeps magazines churning out the same covers each month.

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Of course we all know that the pursuit of the ‘perfect’ anything is nothing more than aspirational, but its so easy to forget when scrolling through the Stepford land of heart emojis and perfect smiles on Instagram. At best these are nothing more then a snapshot of a moment in time. They reveal less about a person then the shoes they are wearing, but despite this, it is hard not to get drawn in.

As a prolific instagrammer, blog user, writer and food sharer, I criticise myself most harshly before anyone else because whether I intend it or not, the presentation of my food, life and brand is embedded in an image. Hopefully one that is far from perfection, but instead works more as a source of realistic inspiration. More than ever I feel responsible for those with outreach to keep their voices honest and clear. We are shaping the way for the next generation, lets not make them one that values themselves against ‘likes’ and the number of followers they have.

4 Comments
  1. Great stuff Tess. It’s so hard to keep in mind that social media, and those thoughts or images which people choose to show of their lives, are nearly always just a highlight reel. We live our lives at that wonderful yet tough ‘average’, and become disheartened that they aren’t more full of perfection and ease when we see other peoples highlight reels and compare. Thanks for pointing towards this. You seem like a lovely lady 🙂

    1. so glad you enjoyed. i think its important to target the issues that come with technology and be able to look at it in a way that make people feel part of something rather than excluded from it. Especially when it relates to food, which is one of the most social things

  2. This is really refreshing to see Tess! I really enjoyed. Would love to see you write more like this.
    The media really can create what we see as ‘perfect’ in a dangerous way.
    Hopefully things will start to change and in a few years time women and men won’t feel an inferiority for looking different to a certain kind of ‘perfect’.
    Good luck!

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