The definition of beauty has been skewed by modern habits. Whether through TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, or Twitter, those with large audiences and resources not available to the common citizen represent the “ideal” to their supporters. Skinniness is a prerequisite for women to be considered worthy in the public eye, while fitness beyond the simple standard of skinniness is expected of men. There are countless requirements for beauty even beyond public appearance; voices, sexual characteristics, and even hobbies are subject to scrutiny. Beauty, once in the eye of the beholder, now sits in the eyes of society — eyes that are directed and manipulated by a privileged few.
True beauty is confidence and personal effort. Look at someone like Lizzo — she is a successful music artist, an intelligent and outspoken woman, and a confidently beautiful plus sized person. Representing a minority in beauty not only for women but for black women, she is an important figure in the public eye. She works her hardest to eat healthy, to relate to her fans, and to show others that you do not have to fit a societal standard to be beautiful in your own way. If more celebrities and influencers had this same outlook and had these same habits, stigmatized expectations could be minimized in the United States’ eyes.
As much as I have spoken about women’s representation of authentic beauty through confidence, I am more personally involved and concerned for this representation for men — more specifically, gay men. There are countless societal standards for straight men to be skinny, to be wealthy, to be fit, to be tall. While there is certainly a need to address these issues, these same standards are enforced tenfold by the gay community. Any mainstream gay man fits a certain definition of “ideal appearance.” YouTube’s Connor Franta, TikTok’s Connor Robinson, and television’s Rylan Clark-Nea all represent a standard for a man to be white, pretty faced, and fit. Connor Robinson represents an even larger issue — despite not being homosexual, he depicts homosexual acts online to garner views and attention from a gay audience that might otherwise ignore his content. He is only seventeen and is contributing to expectations of young people that simply are not sustainable. Most teenagers are reliant on their parents for money that can be used for healthy diets and healthy homes, not to mention the assumptions that these people have the time and energy to devote to the amount of exercise necessary to get perfect bodies. When these influencers are put in the spotlight, gay men are more and more likely to expect nothing less than perfection from potential love interests or even friends. This creates an environment for self confidence issues and overwhelming criticisms within their own communities, potentially causing feelings of alienation, abandonment, or even worthlessness.
While I think beauty comes from confidence and effort with the resources available to someone, its definition is ultimately manipulated by those in the eyes of society. Remembering that most of these influencers are not representative of communities at large and make choices only for themselves can prevent authentic beauty’s destruction.