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Unrealistic Standards are Unsustainable

Updated: Jun 14, 2023

Is your climate action aesthetic enough?

Ditch the aesthetic by Rabiah Kahol

The crux of social media, whether you realize it or not, is built on aesthetics, faux reality and lack of conversations and availability of authenticity. While wanting to adhere to a certain theme or discovering new aesthetics is a great way to enhance creativity, it indirectly creates a parameter for content creators to achieve. At times, the urgency and the substance of the content are what genuinely matters and cannot always be made cute, quirky and aesthetic to appeal to the majority of the audience. Let’s look at some of the unrealistic beauty standards we’ve set for content, that’s in some way harming our planet.

The Aesthetic Effect

We’ve all prioritized the filter, colour scheme, lighting, etc. for pictures or content we post You’ve done that, and I’ve done that. Product aesthetics, or in this case content aesthetics, is a powerful means for achieving competitive advantage. Yet most studies to date have focused on the role of aesthetics in shaping pre-purchase preferences and have failed to consider how product aesthetics affects post-purchase processes and consumers' usage behaviour.

The presentation that brands and content creators offer plays a huge part in the consumer mindset, which in the long run can affect sustainability. For example,

1. Big Brands

A striking advertisement of a pair of jeans, by a fast fashion brand, that plays to the current trends or uses a reference to pop culture in its marketing, is more likely to be purchased by people. The understanding of how the consumption of products from big corporations, that are environmentally and ethically unsustainable, reaches people way after the advertisements do.

2. Cosmetics and Beauty Products

Unrealistic body standards and a lack of conversations about the autonomy people should have around their body leads to the majority of us striving to achieve unrealistic bodies, through heavily marketed, toxic and high-scale cosmetic brands. The use of beauty products is not the issue here, as people should have the liberty to look and feel the way they want, but it is the information around how problematic unrealistic standards are, that gets lost in the hypnosis that their aesthetics bring us.

Beauty Standards vs Quality

Likes, views and shares are front runners for unrealistic standards so most of the content consumed and how good it is, gets judged by these factors. An effort to promote sustainability, social and political issues, highlighting negative practices, gets lost in the dilemma of how to make it look “aesthetic” enough so people will actually watch it. Oftentimes, conventional media gets away with poor quality, lack of matter and surface-level research only because it literally paints a pretty picture on people’s screens.

There is an evident relation between content consumption and the aesthetic effect and how it foreshadows quality and informative content that might not always be presented to you with a million filters or a catchy song. The content of many activists, creators and researchers does not always get the recognition it deserves and needs in light of several pertinent issues, like climate change, social disparities and sustainability initiatives, because it doesn’t meet your unrealistic beauty standards. Being more mindful of how we treat consumable content and the bars we set can provide a bigger, more diverse, bold and high-quality platform to share, consume and swipe through, especially when we’re bored!

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