Article Contents:

  1. Evolution of aesthetic ideals
  2. The rise of selfies and self-expression
  3. Influencer culture and its effect
  4. The filter effect
  5. The dark side of social media
  6. Empowering authenticity and diversity
  7. Conclusion

Social media platforms have become more than just a means of connecting with others in today's digital world. They have evolved into powerful influences, shaping many parts of our lives, including the way we see beauty and aesthetic standards. 

From perfectly choreographed posts to flawless selfies, social media has undoubtedly influenced how we define and pursue beauty. In this article, we will look at the impact of social media on aesthetic values, specifically how these platforms have shifted beauty standards and influenced our perception of what is considered beautiful. 

We will discover both the positive and negative consequences of this digital revolution and what it means for our self-perception and well-being as we go through the evolution of aesthetic preferences in the era of selfies and filters.

1. Evolution of Aesthetic Ideals

Social media has shifted our views of beauty and aesthetic norms. In the past, traditional media outlets controlled beauty standards; but, with the rise of platforms such as Instagram and TikTok, individuals have become the curators of their own unique styles.

Social media-enabled selfie culture has allowed people to express themselves and modify traditional beauty standards. Selfies, frequently enhanced with filters, have evolved into a form of self-expression and confidence-building, enabling people to embrace their individual characteristics.

influencer impacting social media aesthetic standards
A social media influencer engages with her audience.


Social media influencers have also played an essential role in determining aesthetic choices. They provide new beauty trends, products, and practices to the market, challenging established beauty ideals and providing alternative sources of inspiration. Social media has also encouraged diversity and body positivity, highlighting many body types, sizes, and skin tones. 

It has provided a voice to underrepresented communities, encouraging individuals to embrace their distinct identities. While social media has brought many beneficial changes, it has additionally created issues concerning self-esteem, comparison, and the temptation to conform to unattainable beauty standards.

2. The Rise of Selfies and Self-Expression

Selfies have become a dominating form of visual self-representation following the introduction of front-facing cameras on smartphones and the widespread use of platforms such as Instagram. 

Social media has helped popularise the selfie trend, promoting a culture of self-expression and aesthetic discovery. Individuals can use selfies to build their online image, displaying their personal style and beauty routines. 

That kind of self-expression boosts self-esteem and defies conventional beauty standards. It also gives marginalised communities a place to reclaim representation and celebrate their distinct identities. The pressure to achieve perfection, on the other hand, can have an impact on self-esteem and alter self-perception. In this age of social media-influenced aesthetics, it is critical to achieve a balance between self-expression and authenticity. 

3. Influencer Culture and Its Effect

Influencer culture has emerged as an essential component in defining aesthetic standards on social media. Influencers have become tastemakers, influencing trends and defining preferences thanks to their large online followings. Their curated content and recommendations hold a significant impact on their dedicated audience.

a social media influencer takes a photo
Becoming an 'influencer' is a relatively new phenomenon in the digital age, and therefore the impacts are only just coming to light.


Influencers share new beauty products, techniques, and styles through their posts, which frequently result in viral trends. As they bridge the gap between ordinary consumers and the world of beauty, their influence on aesthetic choices extends beyond traditional media.

However, it's crucial to approach influencer culture with scepticism and judgement. Influencers' content should be assessed objectively even though they can offer insightful inspiration. The distinction between genuine recommendations and promotional activity can occasionally be blurred by influencer endorsements and sponsored material. Therefore, it is vital for people to assess their options and make wise choices while implementing beauty routines inspired by these online personalities. 

4. The Filter Effect

The large number of filters on social media is one of its most notable aesthetic features, as they significantly affect how people perceive beauty. With the help of filters, individuals can digitally improve their images of themselves to present the world with an idealised version of who they are. These filters can improve features, cover up flaws, and change how something looks in general.

While filters can be entertaining and encourage creativity, they also play a role in the development of unattainable beauty standards. Constant exposure to filtered images might cause misperceptions about oneself and a drive for impossibly high levels of perfection. As people aspire to resemble the artificially perfected versions of themselves, this phenomenon may have a negative effect on one's self-esteem and perception of one's body.

Understanding the filter effect and the fact that the images we see on social media frequently don't represent reality is crucial. The demands put on us by filters can be offset by embracing honesty and encouraging body acceptance, which can lead to a healthy connection with our self-image.

5. The Dark Side of Social Media

Social media has unquestionably altered aesthetic standards, but it also has a darker side that needs to be addressed. On social media sites, continual exposure to carefully selected, filtered, and edited photographs can have a negative impact on one's self-worth and mental health.

One of the biggest hazards of social media is comparison, as people frequently compare their appearance to the beautiful photographs posted online. As people seek to meet unattainable beauty standards, this can generate emotions of inadequacy and self-doubt.

social media impacting standards on a walk
Whilst social media can be a place to be inspired and inspire others, it can quickly turn into an anxiety-inducing nightmare as unrealistic standards are aimed for.


In addition, the pressure to live up to these standards can lead to body dissatisfaction and the development of undesirable beauty-related habits, such as excessive grooming, extreme dieting, or even the desire for invasive cosmetic treatments.

There is an increased likelihood of considering undergoing cosmetic procedures in individuals that view cosmetic surgery-related material on social media, spend longer hours on social media platforms, and have negative self-views when they are on social media.

It is important to use caution when using social media, keeping in mind that the photos posted there are frequently meticulously edited and might not accurately represent reality. A more positive and empowered online experience can be achieved through encouraging self-acceptance, appreciating many portrayals of beauty, and developing a healthy connection with social media.

6. Empowering Authenticity & Diversity

There is an increasing movement towards embracing authenticity and promoting diversity despite the obstacles that social media aesthetics present. Social media platforms have developed into spaces where people may promote diversity and question conventional notions of beauty.

People are empowering authenticity and inspiring others to do the same by sharing uncensored photographs and expressing their natural selves. This trend towards showing real and genuine beauty as well as imperfections promotes self-acceptance and aids in the redefining of social norms.

Social media has also developed into an environment for underrepresented groups to reclaim their voices and alter perceptions of what is beautiful. Broad beauty standards can now be challenged by people with different backgrounds, body shapes, and gender expressions, promoting inclusivity and representation.

Online communities can become more inclusive and accepting by empowering authenticity and variety in social media aesthetics. We can combat the negative impacts of unattainable standards and advance a more uplifting and empowering digital culture by recognising the beauty of individuality.

7. To Conclude…

Unquestionably, social media has changed the landscape of aesthetic standards, offering possibilities as well as challenges. Social media has altered beauty standards and provided people a platform to express their own personal aesthetics, from the rise of selfies and self-expression to the influence of filter culture and influencer trends.

Social media aesthetics should be approached with mindfulness and critical judgement.

While social media can encourage people to celebrate diversity and their unique identities, it can also encourage comparison, self-doubt, and the maintenance of unattainable beauty standards. In order to navigate the digital aesthetics world, self-expression and authenticity must be balanced.

We can maximise the beneficial aspects of social media while minimising any possible drawbacks by encouraging body positivity, inclusivity, and authenticity. In order to promote good well-being in the digital age and build a healthier relationship with aesthetics, it is crucial to acknowledge that beauty can take many different forms and to encourage self-acceptance. In the end, it's up to us to make social media a tool that empowers and celebrates everyone, regardless of what society expects.

Written by Will Jackson for the You Can Clinic, one of the UK’s leading providers of aesthetic training and pharmaceutical supplies.
December 24, 2023 — Aled Nelmes