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Unrealistic Standards of Beauty and Examples of Self-Obsession: The Kardashians

Sofia Simon, Contributer

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On a typical day, one can be scrolling through their social media feed only to be bombarded with advertisements and posts all revolving around the same thing: body image. Five minutes may pass by and the scroller would already be exposed to an advertisement from Kim introducing a new beauty product from her company or Kylie out on an expensive vacation. How could one not want to live this luxurious life looking the way they do?

The family found their start on their reality television show Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Throughout the years, they gained popularity by always keeping their private lives open to the public. After years in the spotlight, the Kardashian/Jenner clan are now by far some of the most influential celebrities across all social media platforms. The two most popular sisters, Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner, have gained more popularity in the past five years or so in comparison to their sisters. This is due to the creation and expansion of their own individual beauty empires as well as their continuous appearance on the tv show. Their strong social media presence has allowed them to express their beliefs about body positivity and self-love. In addition, they have established themselves as strong independent business woman. At the young age of 21, Kylie Jenner is recognized as one of America’s self-made billionaires and was featured on the front page of Forbes magazine and on its list of the 60 richest self-made women.  Kylie has become well- respected business woman due to her cosmetics line she launched in 2015. Because of both Kim and Kylie’s achievements in the business industry, they are both feminists figures that women can look up to. However, the family’s social media presence as a whole has caught the attention of young impressionable women and manipulates their perception of societal perfection. This audience is susceptible to the pressure of these near impossible societal beauty standards. They believe this is what they should be striving for in order to succeed and be happy in life.

The family serves as an unrealistic standard of beauty and an example of self-obsession. They create a social stigma prioritizing appearance over personality. Setting an unrealistic standard of beauty, women feel they have to replicate this look to be successful or liked. Because these women have become so successful partly due to their beauty and the way they market themselves to the public, women will associate the importance of beauty with success. Women who idolize the Kardashians desire the same luxurious lifestyle and image, which comes as a result of the family’s influence. This is detrimental to women’s body image and health and social media has helped to glamorize it. Girls wanting to change what they do not like about themselves is not anything new, but girls who feel that they need it to look more like praised celebrities is now an increasing epidemic.


The Kardashians are constantly praised for their physical perfection. It has led to the recent epidemic of young teenage girls seeking procedures to enhance or change their appearance. In fact, in 2015 alone there was a nine percent increase in the amount of lip enhancements given to 13-19 year olds. It is clear that if a person’s appearance does not fit in with modern standards, they are incredibly vulnerable to people who harshly judge others based only on the way a person presents themselves. On the other hand, the concept of altering your appearance to a more ideal look can be seen as a failure of self-acceptance which contradicts female empowerment altogether.


Not only is the Kardashians’ influence on a person’s body image negative, but it is also affecting their physical health in numerous ways. As mentioned before, plastic surgery is very accessible to the point where many places are not legally qualified to carry out these risky operations. A majority of women are uninformed of the dangers of being operated on by unqualified surgeons. In most cases, women do not take the time to research the doctor. Other times, women end up with a botched surgery as a consequence of their lack of knowledge on the matter. Damage to the body is not only caused by botched surgeries. People can suffer Body Dysmorphia Disorder. In fact, “10% of people who sought out these cosmetic procedures suffer from this disorder” according to BBC News. This a result of the extreme dissatisfaction with their appearance especially after they have undergone procedures.


On another note, there has been a recent uprise in the production of counterfeit makeup in which companies will illegally copy exactly another companies product and sell it for much cheaper. Not only is this damaging to the original companies business, but it is also incredibly dangerous for a person to use.Test results showed that the counterfeits contained a significant amount of bacteria as well as animal waste. Kylie’s cosmetic line was notably a popular victim to the piracy. People who fell victim to this deception took to social media to speak out about what the products had done to them. Customers also complained of rashes and bumps as well as swelling and blisters as a result of using the fake makeup. Clearly, the makeup is a major rising danger to people’s health.


Social media can be misleading and is a platform for false narratives of everyday lifestyles. Influencers with strong followings on apps like Instagram and Snapchat can manipulate their audience into believing they want something they may not have wanted in the first place. Young women are especially vulnerable to the effects of celebrity influence. Speaking from the perspective of a teenage girl who has grown up in the age of social media, it is nearly impossible to avoid exposure to such influence. Growing up in the age of social media, society has become more narcissistic, one selfie at a time. Yet, with so much self-reflection, young girls are obsessively critiquing their own image which can be detrimental to one’s mental health. While women do not outright state that they want to be a Kardashian, it is evident throughout social media that a curvy body, plump lips, and skinny waist is the standard Kardashian look. The Kardashians are just one example of influencers imposing relatively unattainable standards that young women desire to mimic. Self-obsession can be wrongly justified as self-love.

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