Social media can be a terrible place. What was once considered our safe space is no longer sacred.
On our Instagram, there are unwarranted advertisements, spam bots and unsolicited comments that appear in our feed. Wherever we scroll, we’re bombarded with unrealistic beauty ideals and unscrupulous ads telling us how we should look like. Whether it’s to achieve that fair, flawless, porcelain skin akin to a K-drama actress, or reshaping oneself to be thinner like a Hollywood actress, it begs the question — why are we subjecting ourselves to this when we should just be content with how we actually look?
We spoke to industry insiders who launched an interesting campaign called #LawaGembira to counteract beauty marketers who prey on people’s weaknesses. Instead of trying to change who you are, they remind us to focus on embracing what you have. Radziq Jalaludin, Business Development Manager of Skin Valet shared, “We see a boom in the cosmetic industry as a whole but there are exploitative marketing styles.”
#TeamCLEO investigates where it all began, where to draw the line, and how to sniff out the predators before they pounce on your weaknesses.
JUST AT FACE VALUE?
When it comes to beauty ideals that’s more than skin deep, there are a ton of factors that come into play. In the Malaysian context, one of the main issues stem from the relative ease in registering beauty products. Narqes Mohd Raimi, another founder of Skin Valet, used to be a pharmacist and also worked in the government for seven years, at the product registration centre. She revealed that it was simple to get your product registered and on the market.
“You can get [your products registered] on the spot. In a day we can get thousands of registrations. But what we do is post-market surveillance, we get complaints and issue product recalls,” she explained. These products have a harmful effect on skin and people are then desperate to seek treatment.
“It happens all over South East Asia; people use things with illegitimate ingredients and they see side effects. Then they come to our Medispa, seeking assistance,” she continued. The remedy to this? Educating consumers on making the smarter choice. “Most times people accept what they see in these unscrupulous adverts at face value. We usually educate our clients about what they need and customise, and tailor their treatment to their needs and their budgets, but that’s about it. We never push them to change anything,” explained Narqes.
THAT FEAR FACTOR
Where did it all begin? To trace back a starting point would be near impossible, but it wouldn’t be too far off to blame the media — mass and social — for the ideals they plant in our psyche. From overly-Photoshopped celebrities on glossies to spotless Instagram feeds, we’ve always had some sort of unrealistic ideals to conform to.
“The way individuals define beauty all differ. Whatever it is, it seems that we perceive beauty based on popularity, idols, Hollywood — that’s how cosmetic surgery and procedures evolved,” explained Dr Shauqi, a co-founder of Skin Valet. “Even now the double-eyelid trend from Korea, it’s on a downward spiral. Soon it’ll be a trend to have single eyelids,” he continued, only highlighting how beauty ideals are defined in a populist context.
Unfortunately, because of the pervasiveness of the Internet and our smartphones, even younger children are exposed to beauty brainwashing — the ideals that if you’re not fair, you’re not attractive. Case in point, Dr Ismaliza Ismail, another co-founder of Skin Valet shared the ordeal her children had to go through, due to terrible marketing tactics. “My kids have tanned skin, and there was one day my eight-year-old refused to go to school. We found out it was because her friends said ‘We don’t want to be friends, you’re brown, you’re not fair’. This left us gobsmacked,” she said. Where is this coming from?
THE BEAUTY YOU’RE IN
When you dig deeper, it’s a chicken-egg situation, where marketers exploit people’s weaknesses, but at the same time, we tend to gravitate towards certain beauty ideals. And the unfortunate outcome? Terrible effects on your skin.
“Because of insecurities, Malaysians like to use whitening products. We noticed that there were so many complications that are rampant from the development of products. Skin changes from the use of these products include acne breakouts, pigmentation and so on. They become difficult to treat,” says Dr Shauqi.
“There are also a lot of irresponsIbilities when it comes to treatment, injections that are not approved by the government and that’s when we start to see all sorts of complications arise.”
How does accepting your skin fit within the context of a medi-spa — which is a business on skin and facial treatments you ask? “#LawaGembira means you are beautiful, and you also feel happy with yourself. We wanted everything to be positive, and to deliver something much-needed but very truthful. You need to accept the way you are and when it comes to aesthetics, it’s about getting healthier skin.
“Healthy skin means beautiful skin, and that’s that. It’s not about changing the way you look, because you accept the way you are,” emphasised Radziq.