Fit into the template – Beauty standards and Selfie Dysmorphia

TW: Mental health (depression), beauty standards, selfie dysmorphia, body image, self-criticism

To anyone that needs to hear this today: You are beautiful. You are beautiful the way you are, but many struggle to accept that. Why? Well, the idealised and unrealistic beauty image of today’s society might be a reason.
Beauty standards have shaped our perspective of each other as individuals. What is too thin? Too curvy? How much is too much? There is no accurate definition of what is considered beautiful; however, we are pressured to fit into a “template”. This is not a modern issue since these standards have evolved over centuries.

Every culture established their definition of a perfect beauty image over centuries. The short amount of time in which these beauty standards have changed only shows that there is no set definition of what is considered as beautiful.

The ideal women in the Roaring Twenties would need to be very thin with slight curves. The “boyish” body shape was favoured. Moving forward to the thirties up to the fifties, better known as the Golden Age of Hollywood, the focus shifted more to “feminine” appearance. Media Stars was admired for her famous beauty spot, perfect, blonde hair and flawless makeup – she was a product designed by the industry. Nevertheless, Marylin Monroe stood out from the crowd and worked against the beauty beliefs of society. She wore tight clothes to underline her curves and continues to set an example to all women. Perhaps, this was the first step towards a healthier world.

But this was seventy years ago. The critical question is: how does society treat this issue today?

All of a sudden, globalisation opened the gates of broader communication. But most importantly, we are now able to see each other through social media. Beauty standards do not only apply to the individual country anymore. The whole world is the judge. The platforms make it easier to influence young women and men. Various trends, pictures that have been edited to hide any flaw and filters that change your entire appearance lead to a new fakery place. Everyone can pretend to be their imaginary self.

By all means, the usage of filters and face-and body enhancing apps should not be abolished. Still, it is essential to understand that looks can be changed, and reality may look very different. You only see how you look through reflections and cameras. Being called “beautiful” is one thing – feeling beautiful, however, is a different story.

Listen how some Citros answered the questions 

What do you consider as beautiful and how has social media changed that definition?

What is your favourite thing about yourself? 
Mara, 18, Romania
Sam, 21, United Kingdom
Gleb, 19, Russia

Like Marilyn Monroe in the Golden Age of Hollywood, celebrities like Kylie Jenner significantly impact modern times’ understanding of beauty. Kylie openly exclaims that she did not get any cosmetic enhancements but, later on, admits that the opposite is the case. You may remember the #KylieJennerLipChallenge that used to be quite known in 2015. One might argue that many young people started this to aim for plump lips like those of Kylie Jenner. The peer pressure online and the publicity gained by following this process lead to widespread on social platforms. Suctioning their lips in various objects like bottle openings or shot glasses result in swelling and bruising.
In some cases, the final look was somewhat presentable, but the dangers of this new social media trend were underestimated. The object could break because of the pressure created by the vacuum, and the lips could end up seriously injured. This is just another example of how easy it is to be persuaded to take part in these beauty trends. Public figures do not only present themselves and their talents but also have the task of acting as a role model. The younger generations are much more active on social media and use them as an educational resource.

Très Chic! Celebrities being their glamorous self – but what’s in front of the camera does not mean it is the same behind the scenes.

Around 995 pictures are posted on Instagram every second (, 2021). The continuous intake of new visual content could affect mental wellbeing dramatically. The study “Social Media Use and Adolescent Mental Health: Findings From the UK Millennium Cohort Study” analyses the correlation between social media and the development of depressive symptoms of young people. The daily usage of social media of more than ten thousand 14-year-olds was examined. “Almost 40% of girls who spend more than five hours a day on social media show symptoms of depression” (Guardian, 2019)

“For example: more social media use linked to poor sleep which in turn was related to depressive symptoms; experiencing
online harassment was linked to poor sleep, poor body image and low self-esteem; and that girls and boys with poor body image
were more likely to have low self-esteem.”

(Kelly, Yvonne & Zilanawala, Afshin & Booker, Cara & Sacker, Amanda. (2019))

Many people start to use filters to change or hide their physical features on selfies. The term Selfie Dysmorphia (also Snapchat Dysmorphia) is not very known, although it is pretty relatable. It is believed that the famous Dog Filter on Snapchat highlighted this issue. Once you see your enhanced appearance, you start to pay a greater focus on your natural self. Comparing yourself with others, heavily editing pictures and constantly questioning your looks can all be part of Selfie Dysmorphia. Dr Joshua, an aesthetics doctor in London, joined the discussion about the concept behind Selfie Dysmorphia and the impact of social media on future generations.

On the brighter side, artists like Lizzo act against the fixed imagination of body standards.

“I don’t like it when people think it’s hard for me to see myself as beautiful. I don’t like it when people are shocked that I’m doing it.”

Lizzo on

The audience had the opportunity to participate in a survey. Six people contributed to the survey that was posted on Citronnade’s Instagram page (@/

One question lead to a very diverse discussion:

Social media has changed our perspective on body images. Would you say that it is a positive or a negative change?

Disclaimer: The people that contributed to this project had the option to stay anonymous. If any participant changed their mind regarding their chosen option, don’t hesitate to message me so I can change it.

“I think it’s a positive change because so many content creators motivate people to change their lives.”

Thor, Male, 19

“It’s mixed for me. I have seen more diverse bodies in social media, which is great. However, some of the comments on these images are disgusting. If a model is “too thin”, there are comments telling that person to eat something. If a model is “too big”, the comments tell that person to go exercise. It’s horrible.”

Anonymous, female, 28

“Rather negative.  Body positivity is growing, but still, most influencers you see make themselves look like the conventional beauty standard.”

Mary, Female, 30

The remaining participants answered with “Positive” without further reasoning and chose to stay anonymous.

Gen Z, the generation of change, uses the power of social media to shift the image of beauty more than ever. In terms of beauty, personality is much more valued than appearance. Being kind to yourself and the people that surround you is key. And even the trends on different platforms have changed.
“Instagram vs. Reality” is one of the trends that is currently flooding social media. It shows the difference between the pictures posted by that person on the Gram and the accurate picture before editing.

Together we can establish a new trend that everyone should be comfortable with. Let’s call it:

“Stand out by being yourself.”

A special thank you to Dr Joshua Van der Aa and Sharon! Make sure to check out Dr Joshua’s website .


Women's Ideal Body Types Throughout History

Instagram by the Numbers: Stats, Demographics & Fun Facts

Depression in girls linked to higher use of social media

Social Media Use and Adolescent Mental Health: Findings From the UK Millennium Cohort Study
Kelly, Yvonne & Zilanawala, Afshin & Booker, Cara & Sacker, Amanda. (2019). Social Media Use and Adolescent Mental Health: Findings From the UK Millennium Cohort Study. EClinicalMedicine. 6. 10.1016/j.eclinm.2018.12.005 , Available (online) at: 

Don’t Call Lizzo ‘Brave’ for Being Confident 

it starts with a brushstroke • Digital Illustrations

Communication has always been key to express thoughts and emotions. Around 6,500 languages are spoken around the world and each is unique to the other. Although English is considered a “universal language”, many struggle to learn the language and are left behind. However, there is one form of expression that unites everyone no matter the background, gender, religion and culture – it’s art.

Art is a wordless language that can be understood thoroughly, but differently at the same time.

Wiktoria puts her thoughts on paper or more specific, on screen – not only as Journalism student at the University of the Arts, London but also as digital illustrator.

“Be careful, she is a cosmic lover” by Wiktoria on her Instagram account @_lady_fatale

“In a way, my art works the same as my Journalism, to tell stories. I’m obsessed with that, and art is a sweet and intimate way of doing that. Especially things hard to explain in just words.”

When did you start to create illustrations?

“I have been drawing since I can remember. My mother went to an art college and university in Poland. Creativity has always been part of the family, my brother does a lot of art related stuff too. But specifically illustration, digitally, started a few years ago on my tiny ass phone screen using my finger. I realised I was pretty alright at it, given the very limiting tech and enjoyed it a lot, so last year for Christmas my boyfriend bought me a Wacom art tablet so I can pursue that. “

Creativity and mindfulness are essential to every artist. Drawing on screen offers another challenge. Technology has the advantage to use different techniques at the same time, as well as offers a great spectrum of colour palettes that reduces cost and mess caused by traditional paint.

What programmes do you use for your illustrations?

“I’ve used a series of different apps and programmes like Adobe draw, where I drew on my phone, a little on Adobe illustrator. But mostly I use clip studio paint, I love it so much and find it the most easy to use.”

On Instagram @saturated_auburn_artjuice

The internet creates a new world that connects people and Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are more frequently used among every age group. Social media is more frequently used by artist to share their work, nonetheless, every piece of art is meaningful in its own way.

Wiktoria has two Instagram accounts @_lady_fatale and @saturated_auburn_artjuice.

What is the difference between the two social media accounts?

@saturated-auburn-artjuice is just a huge mess of everything and anything. I never took it half as seriously as I should’ve, you can see me experimenting with a lot of different styles and approaches to figure out my style. Its great in a way but I felt it lacked impact and consistency and a real PURPOSE. I just posted my art like, yes…here you go, art. Without any real drive.

I knew I wanted to focus on social political issues, especially women empowerment but didn’t know how. That’s where @lady-fatale came in.”

The artist is the only one knowing the full meaning behind the work, the viewer might grasp the concept but could also build a new notion.

What is the meaning behind your illustrations?

“The messages in my art are mainly surrounded by relatable thoughts and feelings and presenting them in witty and easy on the eye illustrations. I guess it’s about putting thoughts to paper. Conversations with friends, my current moods and news and current events inspire the next illustration. In a way, my art works the same as my Journalism, to tell stories. I’m obsessed with that, and art is a sweet and intimate way of doing that. Especially things hard to explain In just words.”

Powerful ideas are hidden behind colours and brushstrokes. Even colours have an affect – red associates with love and anger, blue for sadness and confidence and white for purity. Art can be seen by anyone, nevertheless, one person might have a deeper and more emotional connection to an illustration than the other. Who is your main audience?

My audience is anyone who cares for art really, but with a huge focus on women,

I’d love to empower, normalise and make my art relatable to women. Some are more blatantly feminist work than others but I’d love to think that all my work channels, excuse the expression ‘bad bitch vibes’

I guess that’s the goal – to make women feel good and heard and knowing their worth. I have other focuses too, but definitely women are my focus almost all the time. “

Do you have an artist/s that inspire you?

” I am inspired by too many amazing and incredible female artists! Pollynor, I have loved and followed her work before I even took up digital illustration, I’ve seen her exhibitions and fell in love with her strong messages through visual art. Florence Given is another one, honestly her work has really been the source of my own growth as a woman and I saw myself alot in her and what she does. Venus Libido and her ‘daring’ and raw illustrations of women just being women, REAL women has been a huge inspiration too. It took a while to figure out my own style, I tried to do everything, but I didn’t finally find my ‘thing’ until I came across artist MeanMachine and it clicked, and I guess all those inspirations just combined. It is still a work in progress and i’m still experimenting but that’s the way to be!”

The pandemic has a significant influence on creativity flow and mental health. Being stuck at home can both be positive as you have time to think more about your creations but also negatively as the pressure increases and emotions seem overwhelming. How did coronavirus influence your work and everyday life?

“Oh god, at the start of coronavirus I didn’t touch my tablet or a pencil for that matter for a long time. But once I got comfortable being home I learnt to take the time to do it for myself and not feel guilty for not posting much art. So I took up clay modelling, pottery, painting. Literally everything. And Lady-Fatale may have never happened without Coronavirus where I had so much time to figure out what I want to do with my creativity. I’ve usually found I draw when I’m not feeling 100% so its almost an escape…coronavirus truly did its thing in that department and I have found a lot of motivation to post my illustrations.”

What are your goals and wishes for the future and your digital illustrations?

“My goals would be to master the skill of treating my hobby as something serious. Like I always used to brush it under and undermine it but I realise it makes me happy and it is what I enjoy, so why not take it further?”

There is no doubt that incredible talent, passion and effort are reflected in Wiktoria’s artwork. Every illustrations speaks for itself and presents a meaningful story. Make sure to check out both Instagram accounts for more illustrations- @_lady_fatale and @saturated_auburn_artjuice.

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