Looking Like a Million Bucks: The Problem with Instagram Models

When surfing the ‘gram’, one does not have to look far before coming across a very popular phenomenon: Instagram models. Whether it be the A-list celebrities like Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid, or lesser-known stars like Madison Beer and Alexis Ren, every teen has stalked or maybe even followed these types of pages. Though they can’t be confined to one definition, these are generally girls or women who use their appearance to gain a large following on Instagram. Their actual occupations vary; professional models, reality TV stars, YouTubers, and so on. Others are simply known for their social media presence, and make money from not-so-subtle product advertisements on the platform.


This marketable branch of accounts generally fits several criteria; if the woman or girl is not already conventionally attractive, she will either retouch her face and body in all photos (albeit you could argue that most Instagram users do this) or undergo cosmetic surgery. The content is always the same; any category of expensive product (think bags, shoes, cars), pictures of their desirable face or body, and beautiful photos of paradisiacal destinations. Basically, if they have something that the average person dreams of, you can bet they will post it. This proves to be quite an effective tactic as teens, especially girls, seem to worship women that are almost unreal.


Now, Instagram and other photo-sharing platforms are meant to be a good thing, right? Who would not want to share their achievements and happiest moments with others who care about them? The issue with Instagram models is that the line between sharing your life with the world and ‘flexing’ in order to sate your vanity with likes and followers,  becomes blurred. A large part of them (or at least their managers) seem to take advantage of young girls, profiting off of their adoration. Take Kylie Jenner, for example; the reality TV star and social media mogul is the 7th most followed account on Instagram, with more than five thousand posts. Currently, each post is reported to be worth $1 million. With a value like that, you can be sure that she is aware of what she is doing.


Here at Graded, the fondness for Instagram models is quite evident. I have had a few conversations with friends about these social media stars, and I could not help but roll my eyes when they said a certain girl was “sooo pretty” or that they “wish (they) had her body”. Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and whatnot, but I often wonder if my peers recognize the underlying issue. Praising a girl whose posts reflect no part of her real life and only fuel beauty standards is not a healthy practice. From what I have seen, girls around me feel insecure or ugly because they do not look like the flawless women on their phone screen, which is toxic. As a large part of the entertainment/social media industry, Instagram models should feel a greater responsibility to be role models for girls who already struggle with self-image issues. In turn, girls must be careful with the type of media they consume; like with all addicting things, social media should be ‘consumed in moderation’.