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  • I think it was watching makeup videos

  • maybe five or six years ago

  • when I started to feel like my eyebrows were insufficient.

  • So I went out and I bought an eyebrow pencil,

  • and then this happened.

  • All agreeing to scan millions of pages from books...

  • Oh, my God.

  • ...related to biodiversity.

  • I guess I did it wrong.

  • So I watch these beauty vlogs, and almost without fail,

  • all of these beautiful women with gorgeous,

  • flawless skin would mention the same thing.

  • And finally I just cracked.

  • I was like, what is a retinoid and where can I buy one?

  • So I have very minimal beauty routine, I think.

  • I mean, okay, I do go get my eyelashes done

  • and I get the Botox and I get waxed.

  • You're right, there are maintenance--

  • there are maintenance things.

  • How many times have I gone into work

  • and people are like, "Emma, you look really tired today."

  • I'm just like, well, I guess I didn't put on enough concealer,

  • and that's frustrating.

  • I feel like the only reason I care about the way I look

  • is 'cause I want to impress.

  • Honestly-- like, being honest about it,

  • it's 'cause I want to impress on social media.

  • Cleo: Over the past few years, research shows

  • that more and more women are saying that they feel beautiful.

  • But at the same time, the vast majority of women

  • say they feel pressure to be beautiful.

  • So what effect is this online beauty culture having on us?

  • If we have more choices and more information than ever before,

  • why do I feel so trapped?

  • ( music playing )

  • ( music playing )

  • Baby Katie Holmes.

  • Joss: November 1997.

  • So here's how makeup was marketed in the '90s.

  • "So breakthrough. So new. So sheer."

  • So, it's, like, you had to read copy,

  • - but no one read that. - Yeah.

  • Today, if there's a YouTube video and someone's like,

  • "I've used this product, I know it works, here's how you do it."

  • - Way more compelling. - Way more compelling.

  • The data shows that people interact with,

  • meaning like and comment on influencers' videos and posts

  • 32 times more often than they do on brands.

  • I talked to Tiffany Gill about this.

  • She's a professor and an author

  • - who writes about the history of beauty culture. - Huh.

  • I think the digital aspect is what really has changed.

  • What it has done is really democratized

  • what beauty and beauty culture is,

  • so that the people who are consumers

  • now have a lot more control

  • over what constitutes beauty and beauty culture.

  • I mean, first of all, anybody can make content.

  • And when they do, they end up talking about

  • - a lot more than just makeup. - Hmm.

  • - Hey, guys. - Hi.

  • - Hi, guys. - Assalamu alaikum.

  • Hi, everyone. Welcome back to my channel.

  • The shade match is pretty good.

  • I clearly have imperfect skin,

  • but it doesn't mean that I don't love my face.

  • I did not have a good high school experience at all.

  • Most of it kind of stemmed around my skin tone.

  • Actually, all of it stemmed around my skin tone.

  • I wanna talk to you guys about my body,

  • about the fact that I'm fat.

  • If you need someone to talk to,

  • I'm always here. You can always DM me.

  • I love you guys a lot.

  • I'll see you soon. Bye.

  • Aww.

  • I wanna be friends with all of them.

  • - Right? - They're so great.

  • The reason why I think we're beginning

  • to see more women

  • sort of defining themselves as beautiful,

  • is because they're able to find

  • these kind of micro communities

  • that affirm their brand of beauty.

  • And as much as selfies get a bad rap,

  • there's something very libratory

  • about being able to show yourself to the world

  • and say, "Look, I'm beautiful."

  • Cleo: At every level in these magazines,

  • somebody was making a specific decision

  • about who gets to be there.

  • Not just the editors

  • and the gatekeepers at these institutions,

  • but, like, the agents of the models.

  • Whereas now, it's not as though somebody's making a decision

  • about who gets to make a video.

  • You know, I think Instagram's actually been really, really important

  • for the ability to kind of follow people who look like you.

  • Because the reality is that not everyone is, like,

  • a skinny blonde with big boobs.

  • Woman: I follow a lot of women on Instagram

  • that are in my age bracket.

  • And that makes me feel good

  • because before, we were invisible.

  • In my friend group, I was always the fat one.

  • Every other thought was like, "How am I gonna lose weight?"

  • It came to the point

  • where I wasn't even enjoying food.

  • For me it was seeing all these stunning curved models.

  • That made me realize, oh, I'm beautiful, too.

  • We're going to IPSY which is this beauty convention

  • where people can interact with their favorite beauty vloggers

  • - and makeup brands. - Let's do it.

  • ( music playing )

  • Joss: If you look around this event,

  • it's a really sort of exciting environment.

  • And we get to talk to Gigi Gorgeous,

  • who is one of the biggest YouTube beauty gurus out there.

  • - Hi. Nice to meet you. Gigi. - I'm Joss.

  • If the internet hadn't come around,

  • what do you think beauty culture would be like?

  • It really was very rare

  • to see a boy in makeup or, you know,

  • a brand stepping behind a transgender woman.

  • I feel like the times kind of pushed that along,

  • but I also feel like the internet did.

  • Because along with these beautiful, stunning looks

  • that are being created are also these stories

  • that are being told by the people doing them.

  • I have felt for a very long time now

  • that I was a girl trapped inside of a boy's body.

  • I'm really excited just today to talk about my mom.

  • Ah! This literally smells like her.

  • I think that that instantly kind of connects you in a way

  • where it's no longer fan and talent.

  • It's literally family and, like, friend.

  • Cleo: And that's what the online community feels like sometimes,

  • a group of friends all getting ready together

  • and swapping tips.

  • Consumers are more informed than they've ever been.

  • They can take these tools and change the way

  • they present themselves to the world.

  • But if you look at it another way,

  • then it's this constant cycle

  • that ultimately is costing women

  • big chunks of their paycheck,

  • but also something that's more valuable,

  • which is the space in their mind.

  • Cleo: If you're like me,

  • you're spending hours on your phone every day.

  • Last week I spent six and a half hours on Instagram.

  • Which means we're constantly faced

  • with images of other people

  • to compare ourselves to.

  • And a lot of the time, with the advent of filters,

  • those images are full of subtle, little changes,

  • like this skin smoother I've been using.

  • And if everyone around you

  • is making subtle tweaks to their face,

  • it can warp your understanding of yourself

  • and how you fit in.

  • If you're thinking, sure,

  • but we've always compared ourselves to pretty people.

  • That's true, but there's evidence to suggest

  • it's even more concerning online.

  • One study found it made women feel worse

  • when they compared themselves

  • to beautiful peers on social media

  • as opposed to beautiful celebrities in traditional media

  • like magazines and in movies.

  • Researchers think that's because our peers on social media

  • feel like more relevant comparisons.

  • They feel more like us.

  • And then there's all the likes and comments.

  • Another study found that seeing someone leave a compliment

  • like, "You look amazing!"

  • on a pretty woman's photo on Instagram,

  • made the viewer less happy with their own body.

  • I leave comments like that on my friends' posts all the time,

  • and I really didn't realize it was having this effect.

  • It makes sense that the more we compare ourselves to good-looking people,

  • the more dissatisfied we are, and the more beauty work

  • it feels like we have to do to keep up.

  • And I should also say,

  • I'm wearing makeup on a professionally lit set.

  • So, I have no high horse here.

  • This says, "Youth activating concentrate."

  • Because there's a 23-year-old inside me.

  • You just have to activate it with something like this.

  • I do use this often.

  • 'Cause it feels really good. It's super cold.

  • Cleo: What is its objective?

  • I'm sure it does nothing.

  • Emma: Skincare is really expensive.

  • My facial oils are an investment,

  • and it's just never-ending in the name of self-care.

  • I see these lines, and they're just gonna get worse and worse and worse.

  • And I should actuall y love them and accept them

  • because they're lines that are actually the result of my life.

  • But they really, really bother me,

  • and now it's the first thing that I see.

  • I see my boyfriend just roll out of bed

  • and take a shower and go to work.

  • And when I watch him do that

  • I wonder, you know, not why can't I do that,

  • but why does it feel so bad when I do?

  • - Hello. - Hey.

  • So we're gonna talk about the bigger context here.

  • - Okay. - Recently, a group of computer scientists

  • figured out a way to analyze the language

  • that writers use when they describe men and women

  • in three and a half million books in English.

  • We're talking about both nonfiction and fiction books.

  • So what they did is they pulled out the 200 adjectives

  • that were most uniquely used to describe men and women.

  • And what they found was that of those words,

  • the ones used to describe women were twice as likely

  • - to be about their physical appearance or their bodies. - Mm.

  • Christophe: Pretty, fair, beautiful,

  • lovely, charming--

  • those are all kind of words describing appearance.

  • Whereas like faithful, responsible, grand, worthy, adventurous,

  • these are all, like, character judgments

  • - of who someone actually is. - Mm-hmm.

  • And these are books that were published between the years

  • 1500 and 2008.

  • So what about today?

  • Well, in 2017, the Pew Research Center

  • did a survey of American adults,

  • and they asked this really interesting question, which was,

  • "What traits do people in our society

  • value most in men and in women?"

  • - Okay. - Now, this was an open-ended question,

  • meaning people could write anything.

  • But you guys are gonna do

  • the multiple choice version.

  • What do you guys think the top six responses were?

  • Strength and toughness I feel like is not gonna be

  • on the female list for what people value.

  • - Yeah, that's gotta be off the list. - And ambition.

  • People hate those things in women.

  • Wow, it's just so hard to listen to this.

  • Just think of really ( bleep ) up--

  • You both have six down. You good with them?

  • All right, should Joss and I rearrange?

  • So the top answers for women were

  • physical attractiveness, and then empathy,

  • nurturing, and kindness.

  • The top answers for men were

  • honesty, and morality, actually,

  • and then second was professional and financial success.

  • So those are adults.

  • But maybe it's getting better with the next generation.