It is not news that body and appearance dissatisfaction among young women is problematic and common. Nor is it surprising that traditional media celebrating impossibly perfect celebrities and the “thin ideal” can have a negative influence on how girls view themselves.

A new approach 

According to Jonathon Burford, Beautycon Media cofounder and creative director, that old-school approach to reaching a new generation of young women is both passé and ineffective.

“I feel like, with Gen Z, they aren’t looking to traditional celebrity culture anymore,” Burford says. “Not everyone is white and cisgender, and there is a rise in social influencers, because everyone wants to see themselves in the people they look up to.”

Authenticity is key

As a result, Beautycon works with a wide range of social influencers who Burford says put authenticity above financial gain. “They are very assertive about who they are and feel a responsibility to tell their followers that it’s okay to be different and not the norm,” whether they are gay, trans, plus-sized or non-white.

“... there is a rise in social influencers, because everyone wants to see themselves in the people they look up to.”

It’s an approach Burford says is “exploding” across platforms, and traditional media and advertisers have taken notice. “We’re not in that time period anymore when everyone has to be thin and white and traditional. You have to be able to see yourself in someone else to identify with them.”

Time will tell

Because media that younger women tend to use, like Instagram and Snapchat, are still relatively new, there is no conclusive research on how a feed of imperfect, diverse, unconventional faces might affect a young person’s body satisfaction.

It will certainly be newsworthy if this new “anything goes ideal” has a positive influence on how young women perceive themselves.