The internet’s accessibility and the influence of social media give big companies easy ways to target society’s most vulnerable and exposes young girls to objectification and sexualization.
The beauty industry is one of the most notorious for perpetuating a specific ideal for young girls to model themselves around. Some of these girls, without knowing any better, conform to these ideals, and use social media as a way to express themselves to the world.
The job of a beauty influencer is incredibly appealing: They get paid partnerships, free makeup and opportunities to travel the world. Young girls who want these opportunities know that social media is the biggest platform for becoming known.
Unfortunately, it is easy for anyone to access social media, and these girls unknowingly fall into gazes of creeps. These creeps are primarily older men.
Big industries, such as Hollywood, normalize pedophilia. The documentary An Open Secret told the story of former child stars who faced sexual abuse while working in Hollywood. It recieved little to no media coverage as Hollywood officials refused to distribute or promote the film.
The film also highlighted the fact that many big name actors, producers and directors knew about the actions of the abusers, but continued to work with them. The same was true with the Harvey Weinstein scandals. Everyone knew about it, but nobody said anything until recently. By the time this issue was brought to the public, it had gone too far.
The beauty industry contributes to the issue of grooming because it tells young girls they are expected to look a certain way in order to be deemed professional or mature.
Beauty influencers such as Huda Beauty encourage girls as young as 9 years old to immerse themselves in the world of makeup. They do this under the guise of empowerment, but in reality, they are convincing impressionable girls to conform to a capitalistic lifestyle.
Makeup is commonly used because there is something people want to hide or improve about their faces. It can be used to hide acne, cover undereye circles, extend eyelashes and define cheekbones. These are false imperfections that were created by companies who strive to profit off of women’s insecurities. Now they have a younger, more vulnerable target.
Many beauty brands also give their products very sexual names. Nars just came out with a mascara called “Climax,” and they have a blush called “Orgasm.” Too Faced has a mascara called “Better Than Sex.” Anastasia Beverly Hills has an eyeshadow palette called “Sultry.” They advertise with the promise that these products will make women sexier.
It is easy to find data about the consumers of a company’s products, so these brands should know that much of their audience is under the age of 18. As such, they should either refrain from giving their products sexual names, or stop encouraging young girls to immerse themselves in makeup.
When an industry knows that it has a large influence over certain groups of people, it should be held accountable for any harm its products or messages cause. They have a responsibility to their consumers, but unfortunately, big companies only see their audience as dollar signs.
Makeup and social media are not inherently bad; however, younger girls should not be encouraged to participate. If they do, then these industries need to change in order to accomodate a younger audience and set forth safety measures for that audience.