In social media era, students navigate filtered appearances in relationships


This story was originally published in the fourth edition of The Lion’s Tale (February 7, 2020).

With the media just seconds away from our view, it largely influences our taste in partners. Many people fantasize about having their “dream girl” or “dream boy”.

At Oviedo High School, students said they have felt these influences from the media in their own lives and relationships.

“I’ll see all these really pretty girls on instagram or tiktok and sometimes I think like, oh this is what all the guys want, a skinny girl with blonde hair and pretty eyes,” said sophomore Ellie Williams.

Students have said that social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok are being called out by their users for promoting typically “pretty and attractive” people on their featured pages. Some said these featured users have influenced their perception of beauty standards. This can affect students in their personal relationships.

“Sometimes in relationships, girls or guys, might feel pressured to look a certain way to keep their significant other, but if the guy or girl is in it for the right reasons it won’t matter to look a certain way… they will love/like you for who you already are.”

But what exactly makes someone attracted to you? For most it is usually first glance, a look at one’s appearance.

“At first, of course, you’re most likely drawn in by their looks, but if you come to find out that the person doesn’t have a great personality then it doesn’t really matter what the person looks like,” said sophomore Kiana Scott.

To many people looks don’t mean everything to them, but it definitely plays a role in the amount of attraction you have or a person.

“I don’t think it is a large role, it definitely plays a role, just not a very large one,” said Scott.

Personality, on the other hand, is truly what makes someone who they are, and that ultimately plays the largest role when trying to find someone you can be compatible with.

“I’m more of a personality person of course, but most times it is someone who you find pretty or cute that you try to talk to, because they’re your type or something,” said sophomore Selim Kapucu.

In a relationship, some students said that young people could feel pressured to look a certain way to fit in with social media trends. They fear that if they don’t, they won’t be as attractive to a romantic partner. For Scott, however, she doesn’t let the societal pressure affect her self-esteem.

“I’ve never really felt insecure in a relationship because of how I looked, because I know I’m unique when it comes to looks,” Scott said.

Even though the media mostly focuses on girls’ troubles with changing appearances to fit relationships, it’s something that boys also deal with.

“A lot of people think that guys don’t really get insecure in relationships, but there have been times where I get on myself because of how I look, just like anyone else,” Kapucu said. “ I know that if my girl wants me to look different, then she isn’t really in it 100 percent.”

Ultimately, students agreed that despite the pressure, it’s more important to consider your own happiness with your appearance than to consider what others think of you.

“I don’t really want to look how society views ‘beautiful,’” Scott said. “That would take away from my individuality.”