We all remember the popular girls of high school. Unsure if we wanted to be them or destroy them, we all secretly loved to hate them. The only reassuring fact about them was that we thought we’d be leaving them behind in high school. Unfortunately, it seems that they’ve re-appeared all over our social feeds, only now they’re getting paid for who they are.
I still remember the day I stumbled open Juicystar07’s room tour video on YouTube. As she led the camera around her perfectly Pbteen-esque room, I felt as if she was my imaginary, cool older sister giving me a tour of her room. After finishing the 20 minute video, I continued to watch a stream of her other videos, gazing in awe as the picture-perfect girl on my screen seamlessly blended her eyeshadows and precisely applied her eyeliner to create the perfect smokey eye. From that day forward, I was hooked on YouTube videos. Anytime I was searching for a new beauty product, wardrobe update, or just some girl advice, I would turn to one of their videos. As a pre-pubescent 13 year old girl with a minimalist mom and only one older brother, these YouTubers taught me most of what I know about beauty and fashion.
But as time went on and YouTube grew into the monstrosity it is today, things began to change. As the popularity of Instagram and sponsored content rose, the sense of authenticity that once drew me to these influencers was starting to fade. By the time I turned 15, the cheesy filters and novice editing had made way for facetuned selfies and professionally finished videos. Eventually, I stopped looking at these influencers as relatable friends and instead as competition. It’s something most of us “normal people” (and even some influencers themselves) have admitted: after scrolling through a never-ending feed of seemingly flawless, barbie-esque girls, it’s almost expected that one’s confidence wanes. And while the level of authenticity among influencers has increased in recent years, along with the actual diversity in their body types and backgrounds, there’s still a layer of perfection that sugar-coats their lives.
So while I still hold a little jealousy over the super symmetrical faces, perfectly pouty lips, and naturally bodacious figures of these girls, I do know, or hope, that their reign can’t last forever.. By plastering these girls in ads, brands are merely feeding into that same need for acceptance that plagued us in high school. My question is, when will consumers wake up and realize that many of these influencers are not actually our friends – just like those popular girls you knew in high school weren’t, even if they once made you believe so for a second?