By Onadavwaro (Daro) Mrakpor, October 24 2023—
She tries to hide that which is not conventional.
“Without The Face, my own face looks less like one that’d catch your eye in the street… No one comments on my make-up and I feel a little deflated, in a week I’d become used to that little frisson of attention. Still, in the bathroom I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I turn this way and that: I am plain and human. I am not symmetrical. Then I go out and drink and laugh and dance until I’m sweaty without worrying, even for a minute, about my face.”– Alexandra Jones
There are so many ways in which I could go with this story whether it is economical, political, theoretical, sociological or even philosophical. I would spare all my readers the bore and address this topic biographically as that is the best way to share my story.
The Instagram face is something that we see gaining popularity as far back as 2015 with the infamous Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge — something I hadn’t heard about until I had to write this story. We see young girls wanting to look like their influencer role models and being hard on themselves for not being born like a cyborg anime character. Plastic surgery brought this dream to a reality with improved access to lip fillers, facelifts, bone restructuring and the rest I’d rather not search up.
The term Instagram face started gaining popularity in 2018. We see freelance writers and established journalists shedding light on the nearly disturbing sameness of most pop culture influencers and the very disturbing zeal of Millennials and Gen Z alike to want to mirror this sameness. That ambiguously ethnic face with big eyes, full lips, a small nose and perfectly contoured curves that miraculously feature flawless skin.
At this point, if you are confused about what I am talking about — you are just like me and live under a rock.
I have my parents to thank for this delusional world I have engulfed myself in and I will forever be grateful. In 2015, I was in boarding school running around and touching the grass. I did not get my first phone until 2018 and I was too obsessed with cooking fever to care about what the internet had to say. I have lived my life that way for as long as I can remember so hearing about the Instagram face was a big shocker — but it made sense.
Reading about this face connected so many dots in my head. It explained why some of the people around me constantly asked that I get out of the stone age. It explained why a lot of my more social acquaintances were occasionally sad about their appearances. It explained why they spent so much money and time on make-up. However, it did not explain why I should care.
I still find it funny how society has made many of us believe that there is a certain type of beauty and that if you do not fit in that very niche and ambiguous category then you are not. What’s funnier is the amount of people talking about how stupid those standards are but somehow it is still the norm. I call bull but since I promised not to go theoretical on this, I will leave that discussion as is.
It’s just one of my many joys of living in a delusional bubble away from all the hustle and bustle of being a young adult in 2023. On many accounts, I’ve been called vain for knowing I wake up effortlessly beautiful even though it may not be conventionally beautiful (I definitely did not do a dramatic hair flip).
I don’t have a contoured jawline or cheekbones, my skin is far from spotless, and I definitely don’t have a small nose – my high school nickname was Nosemary (which I loved by the way). My makeup routine is less than two minutes long. I don’t worry about breaking out. I have unruly brows and couldn’t care less. With all these unconventionalness of my being, I am alive and thriving. I may not be the best me but I’m me enough and I don’t need anyone to tell me that.
Yes, there are people who do not subscribe to my lifestyle and that is totally fine. Yes, there are people who genuinely enjoy the make-up process (and have the skills for it). There are people who enjoy all these things which I find to be too much effort. And yes they are also happy and thriving and that is okay. There is no one formula for happiness.
There is a saying in my tribe — òviguèn royèn — that roughly translates to everyone has their own destiny. I am in no position to judge someone for liking things I do not.
Even though you have never heard about it or do not understand it, Instagram’s face is real and is giving a lot of women (and men) issues with their bodies, making them feel like they are not beautiful or likeable when beauty is a topic that is extremely subjective.
There will be no call to discard your conventional beliefs in this piece. That is for you to decide on your own. It is going to end with an unconventional effortlessly beautiful person telling you she is effortlessly beautiful even if it’s in an unconventional way.
I refuse to hide that which is unconventional.
This article is a part of our Voices section and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.