Instagram influencer and AI model Lil Miquela foreshadows the shaky future of female autonomy
Take away the slime videos, the Shade Room comments, and the astrology memes, and Instagram is but a sea of young people attempting to find themselves through the lens of their smartphones.
For many, Instagram is a creative outlet, a way to curate visual memories and document self-evolution. A lack of in-your-face sponsorships and/or news, as well as its emphasis on interpersonal relationships, certainly make Instagram feel friendlier than many other social media outlets (despite the fact that its parent company, Facebook, is never lingering too far away).
Despite this veneer of what Instagram should be/wants to be, it has repeatedly been found guilty of promoting negative thinking patterns and self-image issues, particularly in teenagers. For some, Instagram may be a garden of personal visual pleasure, but for others it is yet another of the never-ending chokeholds placed on our self-perception. I can’t help but think that for most, it’s both. Both beautiful and masochistic, we can’t let ourselves scroll away.
For women, this feeling is nothing new. “Beauty is pain,” is a lesson we learn, if not from our mothers or sisters, from our first shave, our first pluck, our first attempt to distort our flesh until it fits into something that we know is just a size too small.
Given that, we move through life with a barrier around us at all times. We are constantly searching for errors, or ways we can subtly remind ourselves that anything more beautiful than us cannot be a product of truth. It is why pages like Celebface and Pretty Ugly Little Liars are so popular, and even exist to begin with. People relish few things more than glitches in the Matrix — an exposure of an ideal as something computer generated — if only to serve as fodder for our own self-worth. How else would we convince ourselves we are actually beautiful were it not for knowledge that X’s butt is pure silicone, or Y’s breathtaking magazine spread a product of Photoshop?