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The social media beauty cult | DW Documentary

May 2023 18

Social media are influencing the way women feel about their own bodies. Young women in particular are constantly being confronted with pictures of beautiful female bodies online – images which have almost always been digitally enhanced.

This take a long and alarming look at young women whose everyday lives are dictated by the search for bodily perfection. The more users click their way through Instagram, Facebook and so on, the greater their dissatisfaction with their own appearance becomes. Hardly anyone can escape the pull of this illusory world, where beauty, fitness and lifestyle count for everything. The consequences an even be fatal: slimming and fitness crazes, of all kinds, and . During her research, filmmaker Jennifer Rezny came across a Canadian study that found that young women’s insecurity has been increased by social media. It feels like almost everyone is trying to present themselves on Instagram in slick filter-processed selfies these days. Despite increasing calls for diversity, the “ideal” female body still dominates the media’s perception of female beauty. Numerous movements and initiatives – even on the part of the fashion and advertising industries themselves – have had little effect. “The female body has always been a carrier of female identity. It’s nothing new for us women to be objectified and sexualised,” says Rezny. “There has also been a great deal of social development, but we are still not where we should be and where we women want to be, in an equal society. And in any case, we live in a meritocratic society, one defined and colored by capitalism, which always has to be optimized and improved. It can never be enough.”


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  1. #1

    I didn't understand half of the theories but that's probably me . Very good though to talk about " in how far beauty may play a role in my life "

  2. #2

    Body positivity is important if the body is healthy and the mindset isn't obsession with how the body looks or is a certain physique. Obesity is the flip side of anorexia. Neither are healthy and both are life threatening.

  3. #3

    Thinspo is horrifying. For some reason i thought most anorexic people didn't realize they look like skeletons. Clearly that is the look they're going for. Imagine looking up pro depression/anxiety/bipolar etc. Eating disorders are one of the few mental illnesses that the majority of sufferers thinks they want to keep around and search for ways to get worse.

  4. #4

    They won't be "beautiful" for long. Then what? I don't care.

  5. #5

    Idealistic = idealistisch; You meant idealised = idealisiert.

  6. #6

    People are just dumb naked monkeys remember that. All those pretty words won't change the facts.

  7. #7

    I can't believe that lady calls herself plus size , maybe we Africans have different standards l find her so normal if anything counted amongst thin girls , needless to say she z beautiful.

  8. #8

    All these women need is to leave the phone and find a guy.

  9. #9

    Social Media Became A Platform Where People Can Boast About What They Have…

    Social Media Has Also Become A Platform That Makes Several People Feel Insecure About Themselves…

  10. #10

    I'm skinny to hell and eat a lot . I never do sports. But I got satisfaction when I see people struggle to maintain their bodyshape. I'm 25 women and people think I'm 16 😂

  11. #11

    Only made it to 17:04. So very sad for this Most superficial generation & so proud to have been mine. Before this week insanity. We Had Fun!

  12. #12

    Dudes are better.

  13. #13

    I'm tired of women

  14. #14

    If a women who looks healthy and are healthy without any past are straight on green flag
    Rest is just subjective and debating about this or that is beautiful is straight nonsense

  15. #15

    Was on a flight back from Barca last week and saw a girl (mid 20s?) looking through the photos on her phone. She spent the entire 90min flight either deleting photos she didn’t like at all, or heavily editing the ones she saw as acceptable, getting rid of blemishes, shadows, touching up here and there etc. She was not a supermodel, but nor was she by any means ‘ugly’ (not that that should matter), just a perfectly normal, young girl. Yet still felt the need to edit, edit, edit. Very very sad to watch.

  16. #16

    Demographics of media are to target disparate racial groups w the same dollar spent. That's why black men are portrayed as equal time to white men to target advertising productivity. The fulcrum of all ads are the beautiful white woman who is often portrayed as coupled w the black man to improve cross cultural response of the initial ad. In order to normalize this dynamic into society bussing was implemented in the 1960s in public schools to set the black boy next to the pretty white girl in class. This is also profitable to media. No wonder women are so victimized from being used for bad & wrong reasons.

  17. #17

    Most German women are unattractive/fat anyways. The majority are Mud Sharks like Heidi Klum.

  18. #18

    This craziness is in the first word. Visit Uganda and see juicy ladies

  19. #19

    being a woman isnt easy
    ah yes be born and have men throw themselves and money at you, hmm.

  20. #20

    Shame that "body positivity" isn't covered, the "health at every size" crowd that perpetuate the lie that you can be healthy when you are obese.

  21. #21

    Traditionally, men are functional (for labour, war), women are decorative. That's why you don't see these extreme aesthetic trends for men: anorexic men don't appeal, "curvy" (overweight/obese) men don't appeal, because those are both a handicap for labour/fighting in a war. Women naturally have more variations in build because we naturally have more fat so that's where genetics does it's thing so we have women at a healthy weight who may have a big bottom or a big chest, a more athletic build Vs very hourglass. And if you don't have to worry about functionality as much then you can alter your shape to fit an aesthetic. It's funny that there's no "health at every size" (even when you're obese) for men, isn't it, or that you don't see them in media where they do pick some obese women for "representation" (Next in Fashion didn't have any obese, not even overweight male models yet there were several obese female models).

  22. #22
  23. #23

    This was very good, but men also are stigmatized, but similar but in different, ways, women are expected to be everything presented in this well made documentary, while men are often expected to be handsome, successful, athletic, strong and or wealthy, while dressing for success, thus society put a-lot of pressure on both men and women, beautiful women look for sugar daddies, while powerful successful men look for trophies, it’s a cut throat society where people compete for power and wealth, like competitive athletes…and everyone instinctively know the game….

  24. #24

    It's all about being healthy. Not be in the extremes. Not too big or too small but in a healthy range. Ultimately, health is not the anorexic looking starved model or the 300lb body positive pusher. Sad that perfectly healthy looking individuals do damage to themselves by trying to be something that's very unhealthy.

  25. #25


    Everyone on social media have "perfect" lives.

    Im glad i quit that shit show.

    You should too.

  26. #26

    Social media totally destroyed everything beautiful in this world like no perfect time with friends or family anymore all busy with take pictures or videos it's so sad fr 😒 I started feeling like a robot and I learn now how to be human again

  27. #27

    So the girls enjoy photography in the 90s my friends and I used to get disposable cameras and take photos teens like to do that and lots of young people are just attractive I'm actually sad that when I moved across the country four of my photo albums were lost because people are only young once I liked to take pictures of lots of things other than people too though like buildings or nature but sure people like to crop photos or alter tints for different effects photography is a hobby an art project some just learn about lighting and symmetry too. I used to work in fashion merchandising the store was also part of the job making window displays etc. It's just fun I would have liked social media as a teen too I think but in the 90s most of us did not even have home computers or internet yet. I wouldn't always assume Photoshop is used either some girls are naturally thin they don't need to slim their thighs virtually etc.

  28. #28

    There are apps now that give a filter. So you definitely cannot compete with that. Persona and FaceApp

  29. #29

    Not one mention of the word "narcissism"? Maybe that will help people think about what they are doing.

  30. #30

    Natural beauty is and always will be the most attractive. I always notice women who embrace their natural beauty more than those who wear makeup or get surgery. Lots of women have told me they like to wear makeup because they enjoy it. Maybe so. But it’s always the woman who loves herself as she is that stands out. After all, when you love yourself, you take care of yourself. Which makes you more attractive.

  31. #31

    Human beaings are designed to choose easy and shortcuts. Given options almost all would choose mobile phone entertainment rather than physical participation.

  32. #32

    imma be honest and victim blame. the people falling for the beauty cult, even grown people are dumb. they don't question their vulnerability, they don't question their influences, they don't try to educate themselves from the sane ones. they wait for someone else to bring the change.

  33. #33

    I am a man. I like skinny women. I also like plump women, blondes, redheads, brunettes, short women, tall women, long hair, short hair, and so forth. Most of the men I know feel the same way. I believe the majority of this competition among women is driven by women. It's their version of football. They want to be richer, more famous, and prettier than one another. Stop making men the villains. You're doing it to yourselves.

  34. #34

    The way to make money for "creators". It is all about money and nothing else. Smart people understand and stay away from it. It is sad.

  35. #35

    I am a model. Why is everybody looking at my photo? derp!

  36. #36

    Fake boobs and globs of makeup, see through the lies

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