Beauty, fashion and looking ‘hot’: YouTube’s powerful messages for girls

YouTube beauty blogger Zoella has had more than 950 million views of videos on her channel.
Zoella/YouTube

Bernice Loh, Monash University

Last September, comedian Amy Schumer posted pictures of the covers of two US magazines – Girls’ Life and Boys’ Life – on Instagram with the caption “No.”

The girls’ magazine featured stories about fashion and hair. The boys’, headlined Explore Your Future, was full of interesting things to do. The post went viral. “Wow. @amyschumer I second that emotion,” responded actress Blake Lively. “Ladies, let’s not let this happen anymore …”

The pressure for girls to focus on how they look or fashion themselves after adults has been much discussed. Most of this, however, has focused on “traditional” forms of media – books, magazines, TV shows – but this does not accurately depict the changing mediascapes of girls’ lives, in particular, the growing significance of YouTube.

YouTube has attained a global watch time of over 500 million hours daily. Growing by 60% each year, it is prevalent in many young people’s everyday lives. But how do YouTubers typically construct and celebrate what it means to be a girl? In 2014, there were at least 45,000 YouTube channels that featured beauty-related content. In June 2016, there were more than 5.3 million videos that capitalise on the female appearance on YouTube.

Fashion

Haul videos are one of the most popular genres uploaded by young female YouTubers. In haul videos, YouTubers typically introduce and describe the products that they have purchased, after each shopping trip.

Popular American YouTuber Bethany Mota (MacBarbie07) first uploaded videos about the fashion purchases from her shopping trips back in 2009, which saw her subscribers on YouTube grow exponentially. She reportedly earns around half a million dollars a year from YouTube, just by shopping and filming what she buys.

British YouTuber Zoe Sugg (Zoella) – who has over 11 million subscribers – also regularly updates her female fans on where she shops. The labels mentioned include ASOS, Topshop and H&M. According to Vogue, Sugg has become one of the biggest fashion influencers, with more than 950 million casual views today on her channel.

Beauty

Besides videos on fashion, there is a growing community of YouTubers dedicated to generating beauty and makeup content. These videos range from step-by-step tutorials teaching girls how to apply makeup to sharing their everyday beauty routines.

Christine’s (TessChristine) morning routine video, for instance, features herself getting out of bed, shaving her legs and applying makeup, checking social media and wearing high heels before she steps out of the house on a “casual day out”.

YouTuber AlishaMarie also has a following on her “How to Look HOT” series. “How to look HOT for Back to School” is one of her most viewed videos, with over 4 million views.

It is worth noting that videos of fashion and beauty on YouTube are not specifically produced for girls. In fact, videos on makeup and dress constitute a significantly different “genre” from what girls have traditionally been allowed to watch (for example teen/tween sitcoms on the Disney Channel).

However, with their DIY approach and instructions on how girls should be acting or dressing, such videos have become legitimate and ready sources of information.

It is also common for beauty YouTubers to provide lists of products in the information section of their videos. But how independent are these recommendations? Are some YouTubers actually sponsored, but presenting products as something they have bought because it is “quintessential” or “useful” to have them “as a girl”?

Alternative viewing

There are, of course, YouTubers who create alternative content. Top Asian Australian YouTuber Wengie, for example, strikes more of a middle ground, with videos that address goals, health and personal growth for girls.

There are also other Western young female YouTubers who use humour and satire to challenge ideas of popular femininity. Top Canadian YouTuber Lilly Singh’s viral video “How To Make a Sandwich” is a retaliation against the sexist comments that she receives on her channel, telling her that “women aren’t funny” and that they should be in the kitchen “making sandwiches”.

Miranda Sings – who has 7 million subscribers – similarly puts on monstrous makeup to perform parody music videos, which have little or no relation to being conventionally pretty.

A growing community of male YouTubers like Pewdiepie, NigaHiga and Casey Neistat have also achieved high levels of popularity with the support of fan girls.

Nonetheless, those concerned about our culture’s obsession with girls’ appearances should be paying more attention to this community of YouTubers. Girls’ consumption of videos on YouTube should not be considered as a teenage fad, especially with YouTubers’ influence on young people surpassing celebrities on traditional mainstream media.

In fact, celebrities today are also increasingly shifting their focus to YouTube, in order to compete with YouTubers for a share of this market.The Conversation

Bernice Loh, Doctoral Candidate, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Beauty is skin-deep: why our complexion is so important to us

Skin is seen as a marker of health, and thus beauty.
Noah Buscher/Unsplash

Rodney Sinclair, The University of Melbourne

This article is part of our series about skin: why we have it, what it does, and what can go wrong. Read other articles in the series here.


We’re all attracted to a beautiful face. We like to look at them, we feel drawn to them and we aspire to have one. Many researchers and others have investigated what we humans identify as “beautiful”: symmetry, large evenly spaced eyes, white teeth, a well-proportioned nose and of course, a flawless complexion. The skin is of utmost importance when people judge someone as beautiful.

When choosing a mate, men rank female beauty more highly than women rate male appearance. Female beauty is thought to signal youth, fertility and health.

Beauty can also signal
high status. People with “plain looks” earn about 10% less than people who are average-looking, who in turn earn around 5% less than people who are good-looking.




Read more:
The skin is a very important (and our largest) organ: what does it do?


Skin as a marker of health and beauty

Even the best facial structure can be unbalanced by skin that is flawed.

There are many skin conditions that are perfectly natural, yet because of our beliefs around skin and health, these can cause the sufferers extreme self-consciousness.

Examples include: chloasma, the facial pigmentation that often occurs during pregnancy; starburst telangiectasias, the broken capillaries that appear on the lower thighs and calves of many women as they age; and dermatosis papulosa nigra, the brown marks that accumulate on the upper cheeks and temples, especially in people of Asian or African descent.

Chloasma (pigmentation) often affects pregnant women.
from www.shutterstock.com

Teenagers with acne are more likely to withdraw socially. It may impair school performance and result in severe depression and even suicide.

There are hundreds of skin diseases that can change facial appearance, including rashes such as rosacea and skin cancers. Surgery for skin cancer can leave noticeable marks and scars that make the survivor self-conscious.




Read more:
Why does Australia have so much skin cancer? (Hint: it’s not because of an ozone hole)


Industries built on our self-consciousness

Perhaps alongside the greying of the hair, skin is the most visible sign of ageing. As we age the skin changes. These changes are most pronounced in the areas exposed daily to the sun, such as the face, neck and the backs of our hands.

There the skin thins, loses volume and elasticity and becomes dull. Dark rings develop under the eyes. Wrinkles appear. The skin sags and blemishes and scars accumulate.

Despite having no negative physical health effects, acne can cause major self-esteem problems in youth.
from www.shutterstock.com

People spend a lot of money in attempts to regain their youthful appearance. The global cosmetics industry is worth about US$500 billion. Sales of skin and sun care products, make-up and colour cosmetics generate over 36% of the worldwide cosmetic market.

We use foundation makeup to conceal freckles and blemishes, moisturisers and fillers to hide dryness, concealers to disguise broken capillaries and pimples. And increasingly people are using botox to remove wrinkles, fillers to replace volume, and laser to remove flaws from the top layer of skin.




Read more:
Common skin rashes and what to do about them


We should all use sunscreen to protect the skin from sun damage and prescription medications to cure the skin of diseases when necessary.

In 2018, we find ourselves living longer, working later and remarrying more. We’re having to trade on our beauty much later in life.

In a better world, beauty would be irrelevant. Unfortunately in our world it’s one of our most valuable assets. The best we can do is to protect our skin from sunburn, seek advice from a dermatologist when we notice any skin problems, and accept we weren’t born with the skin of Beyonce.




Read more:
Four of the most life-threatening skin conditions and what you should know about them


The Conversation


Rodney Sinclair, Professor of Dermatology, The University of Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Want to avoid a botched beauty procedure? This is what you need to be wary of

Regulation doesn’t cover procedures performed in a beauty salon in the same way it does those performed on the operating table.
From shutterstock.com

Michelle Rodrigues, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne

Recent news that more than a dozen cosmetic beauty operators have been shut down across Victoria in the last year will give many people cause for concern.

One beauty therapist was allegedly found to be operating at the back of a jewellery store, offering risky procedures including mole removal, facial fillers and skin tightening. In many cases, plastic surgeons and dermatologists have been required to treat the damage caused at these rogue salons, including swelling, scarring, and infection.

While low-cost procedures can be alluring, there are several things to keep in mind to ensure the treatments you’re getting are safe and reputable.




Read more:
Injecting regulations into cosmetic medicine


Regulation

The skin is the largest and most accessible organ of the body, making skin procedures like laser, dermabrasion, microneedling, skin peels, toxin injections and fillers very common among unqualified or minimally qualified people and clinics.

The Medical Board of Australia, supported by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), are the governing bodies for medical professionals. They register practitioners, and enforce guidelines for cosmetic medical and surgical procedures, which serve to protect the community.

There have been cases where registered medical practitioners, including general practitioners, have performed procedures outside their area of expertise or have not conformed with codes of conduct, sometimes with tragic consequences. But in many of these cases, the regulations in place have helped to identify offending practitioners and ensure disciplinary action is taken.

Yet for non-medical operators, for the most part, no training or educational requirements need to be met, no uniform national professional standards or codes of conduct exist, and there is no governing body to whom people can direct concerns.

Essentially, these beauty salons and non-medical clinics are simply not regulated by an external body or organisation.

The importance of medical training

The skin is an organ, just like the heart or lungs. Its structure and function is complex. In order to practise as a dermatologist, a person needs to first complete their medical degree, and then complete a further six years of specialist training in all matters related to the skin, hair and nails.

Laser treatment is commonly offered to treat things like redness on the skin, brown spots, and to improve skin texture and tone.

In order to deliver safe laser treatments, an accurate diagnosis is important. Is the brown spot on your cheek you want to remove a freckle, melasma (a discolouring of the skin) or a melanoma? A person without a medical background could easily mistake a melanoma for a freckle, which could be deadly.

Even if you do have just a freckle, what laser settings will be safe and effective? An intimate understanding of the structure and function of the skin and the physics of the laser is necessary to make these important decisions.




Read more:
Friday essay: toxic beauty, then and now


The regulations surrounding who can operate a laser differ from state to state. In Western Australia, unless you’re a medical doctor, nurse, or hold a diploma or certificate IV in beauty therapy (or equivalent) with a licence, you cannot operate a laser for the purpose of hair removal. Further restrictions apply to the use of lasers for cosmetic procedures and tattoo removal. In Queensland and Tasmania, only those with relevant licences can operate laser devices.

For the rest of the country, no regulation exists. This means anyone can offer skin treatments – a person who has done some online training or a weekend course could hang a “laser certificate” on the wall and start using lasers and other devices to treat skin.

In some Australian states, a person performing laser treatment doesn’t need to have had any training.
From shutterstock.com

The same can be said for microneedling, the insertion of very fine, short needles into the skin for the purposes of rejuvenation or to reduce acne scarring. While some states regulate procedures involving skin penetration, particularly around infection control, no uniform minimum training requirements exist for providers.

The depth of penetration of the microneedling device, the type of needle chosen, and pre- and post-treatment care are critical to maximising the benefits and minimising the risks of the procedure.

Similarly, for anti-wrinkle injections and fillers, an intimate understanding of facial anatomy is required to ensure safe and successful treatment. Complications can range from local injection site infection through to blindness. To have people performing these procedures who are not medically trained is very risky.

Medical professionals take precautions to minimise the risk of complications and are trained to recognise and deal with complications that will inevitably occur from time to time. They can also prescribe relevant medications to help with things like infection or pain, if necessary. Non-medical providers cannot.




Read more:
Will microdermabrasion or skin needling give me better skin?


Equipment and sanitation

There are hundreds of different lasers, microneedling and skin care devices around. There are different brands, different models, and different safety features. So, varying outcomes can be seen with different devices.

Any piece of equipment that penetrates the skin needs to be sterilised in a medical-grade steriliser. Sterilising the equipment prevents the transmission of blood-borne infections like hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV. Failing to sterilise properly or not doing so at all places patients and the community at risk.

It must be said that there are many trained non-medical practitioners who adhere to infection control measures, understand what is safe and what is not, and who administer treatments in sanitary conditions.

What needs to change?

Regulatory bodies and the government need to work together to safeguard the community. We need to better regulate who can operate lasers and other skin devices, who can inject, cut and treat skin and in what type of environment this can take place. And we even need to regulate advertising – who can use the words “skin specialist”, “medical grade skin peels”, and so on. Because right now, anyone can.




Read more:
Safety before profits: why cosmetic surgery is ripe for regulation


So how can a consumer know how to access treatment from a qualified practitioner? Given there are little or no regulations in some parts of the country, it’s very hard to be sure, but these tips can help:The Conversation

  • if you want to be treated by a medical practitioner, look up the APHRA website to see if the practitioner you are going to consult with is registered
  • you only get what you pay for. If consultations and treatments are very cheap, you may want to look into the quality of the equipment and the experience of the provider
  • don’t believe everything you read online. Medical professionals are not allowed to have testimonials on their websites, so don’t decide on a provider on this basis
  • trust your gut – if something doesn’t feel right about the place or person, walk away.

Michelle Rodrigues, Consultant Dermatologist, St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.