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Elayane Merriwether



J. Thomas Wright

ENC 3502


In this proposal, I will be examining millennials social practices and medias societal

influences focusing primarily on the emphasis of beauty. I will be writing a reformist claim

addressing not only millennials desire for social acceptance due to the medias stock in beauty,

as well as the negative consequences that can occur by focusing too much attention on

societys definition of beauty. Merriam Webster as the quality of being physically attractive

defines Beauty and the qualities in a person or thing that give pleasure to the senses or the

mind. Raising the question, why as millennials do we let society s definition of us define our

beauty? Being a millennial in the target audience that I am addressing will aid me in my

research. However, being a millennial I plan to be mindful of biases, which is why I will conduct

research through a set of surveys and comparing/ contrasting different pictures of beauty. It is

important to define my target age of millennials. The age range of millennials I will base my

research on is millennials between the ages of 18-26.

Review of Literature

By focusing on millennials I think it is important to identify the way they were brought up

and how that would later affect their social practices. Sean Lyons, co-editor of managing the

New Workforce: International Perspective on the Millennial Generation analyzes millennials self-

esteem from an early age. When theyre little it seems cute to tell them theyre special or a

princess or a rock star or whatever their T-shirt says. When theyre 14 its no longer cute. All

that self-esteem leads them to be disappointed when the world refuses to affirm how great they

know they are. Lyons states, It is sort of a crisis of unmet expectations. The early upbringing

of millennials self-esteem/self worth complied with the medias emphasis of beauty has

drastically affected millennials social practices on various social platforms. From an early age

society has been putting an emphasis on intangible expectations of self worth. This unstated

and unmet expectation leads to a void in self-actualization, which I believe is a direct correlation

to millennials using social platforms for validation and reaffirmation of their beauty.

The medias emphasis on beauty has been infected millennials from a very early age.

Millennials grew up watching reality-TV shows, most of which are basically documentaries

about narcissists. Now they have trained themselves to be reality-TV-ready. Most people never

define who they are as a personality type until their 30s. So for people to be defining who they

are at the age of 14 is almost a huge evolutionary jump, says casting director Doron Ofir who

auditioned participants for a several reality TV shows such as Jersey Shore, Millionaire

Matchmaker and A Shot at Love. According to the most recent scientific studies the human

brain does not fully mature to the mid-20s. This information can be found and supported in an

MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Young Adult Development Project. This later

development of the brain supports Ofirs statement of the evolutionary jump of 14-year olds

trying to define themselves at such a young age. The media is saturated with reality-TV shows

that emulate a beauty that the media wants you to see. These reality TV-shows influence
millennials social media practices on Instagram because these prevalent reality stars are all

active on Facebook and Instagram.

In 2014, Kim Kardashian (74.7 million Instagram followers) posed her naked, bare butt

on the cover of paper magazine. The picture was also posted to her Instagram showing her

bare butt and the media pushed it and discussed it on both Instagram and Facebook. Pictures

like these show millennials that this type of picture is socially acceptable and millennials are

following suit. It sets a new standard for what society deems is acceptable and what the media

thinks is beautiful. Joel Stein from Times wrote an article Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation

that delves into the millennials psyche and sheds light on millennials fascination with celebrity

beauties. He states Kim Kardashian, who represents to nonmillennials all that is wrong with

her generation, readily admits that she has no particular talent. But she also knows why she

appeals to her peers. They like that I share a lot of myself and that Ive always been honest

about the way I live my life, Kim Kardashian says.

When did beauty become your naked body on a magazine? When did the words beauty

and modesty become a rarity to find in the same sentence? When I conduct my research I will

poll the target audience on reality- TV shows that were popular when they were young. In hopes

to make a contrast between the millennials who did watch reality-TV shows and their current

opinion on beauty versus millennials who didnt and their definition of beauty.

However, it is important to mention it is not only reality TV-show stars media is pushing

through social platforms. Rhianna (40.2 million followers), Dan Bilzerizan (17.8million followers)

and the Slut Whisperer (949K) all have racy Instagram and Facebook accounts that millennials

have taken a liking too that are popular in the media.

Millennials have put a heavy emphasis on social media due to todays culture and thus

have learned how to turn themselves into brands. With friend and follower tallies that serve

as sales figures. As with most sales, positivity and confidence work best. People are inflating

themselves like balloons on Facebook, says W. Keith Campbell, a psychology professor at the

University of Georgia, who has written three books about generational increases in narcissism.

When everyone is telling you about their vacations, parties and promotions, you start to

embellish your own life to keep up. If you do this well enough on Instagram, YouTube and

Twitter, you can become a micro celebrity. Millennials have seen these micro celebrities being

shown throughout the media and realizing it is attainable, have started to out do each other in

their pictures and their posts. This can be found through searching through the trending page of

Instagram and finding millennials mimicking and recreating pictures they have seen. In order to

support my claim I first wanted to draw the conclusion that millennials take great stock in their

social media presence and practices. Several of the bathing suit companies on Instagram such

as Boutine LA have pictures of woman in suggestive positions with trending hashtags. Hashtags

is pound sign followed by a tagline to unite people who post similar content with that hashtag

together. If you click on that hashtag you can find hundreds of girls recreating the same

suggestive positions as the models on the official Boutine LA page. Millennials are taking what

the media is showing them as beauty and letting it impact their social practices. This is another

prime example of how societys new social standard for beauty and the medias emphasis on

beauty is affecting the social lifestyles of millennials.


I will be using content analysis and conversation analysis to support my reformist claim. I

plan to use content analysis for the articles I use to support my claim and the surveys I create
with my research. For the social media aspect I will be using conversation analysis to support

my claim. My research goal is to bring awareness to millennials on how societys standard of

beauty has changed as well as how their social practices are being influenced. In hopes of

creating a social change which means I will be working within the critical paradigm. Although

action research is typically used in the short term I think it will be beneficial in helping to

continue to develop my proposal's theory. In order to bring about this change I plan to first show

millennia's that there definition of beauty is skewed and grow from there.

Discussion/ Importance

The importance of this claim is to create a call to action within millennials. This research

study will show millennials that the media has tainted their definition of beauty. It is important to

not let the medias definition of beauty define the way you look at yourself, the way you portray

yourself on social media and the way you feel about yourself. Millennials use to post pictures for

the mere fact that someone else could see what interesting thing they had just done. A cool trip

to Thailand, an adventure with your college friends or a deliciously beautiful meal you just ate.

However, with the media idolization of beauty and associating beauty with happiness millennials

have changed direction in the types of pictures they are posting. Instagram is flooded with

pictures of super buff men, perfectly tone women and the perfect candid photo with your hair

flipping in the wind. Now millennials are posting pictures that are more vain and for the soul

purpose of getting Likes on Instagram.

On Instagram someone can post a picture and people can like it. As Instagram has

grown increasingly more popular these Likes have become associated with reconfirmation

that indeed the picture you posted is worthy. Millennials want to obtain these Likes so badly
that you can now buy Likes and followers (the people who follow your Instagram). Millennials

are paying for fake accounts to follow them and like their content just so it can appear to the

outside world that people like what they are posting. That indeed they are pretty and that their

pictures are good enough. The follower economy is in fact a big business where companies

are charging as little as $5 per 1000 followers. It Huffington Post article Big Business: Buying

Fake Instagram Followers they interviewed the owner of about this obsession. The

owner stated that some clients and agencies spend over $10,00 per month on buying followers.

This new societal norm trickles all the way down to millennials. We emulate what we see and

we see a society that tells us what is beauty and a large following makes you well liked whether

they are real or just computer bots.


I will first create a type of casting call for millennials between the ages of 18-26 who

have both a Facebook and Instagram. I will then have them define their own definition of beauty.

They will be broken up into two groups Group A and Group B. Group A will be millennials who

grew up watching reality TV shows or have a knowledge of currency reality TV shows versus

Group who will be the opposite. If there are other variables that arise when creating the two

groups I will address those variables then. I will have the two groups fill out a series of multiple

choice and paragraph answer surveys. I will only use trending material on Facebook and

Instagram that pertains to beauty at the time to visually compare and contrast pictures. There is

a possibility of having them define their definition of beauty and contrast that to the way they are

presenting themselves on social media platforms.


I for see my target audience causing limitations when I conduct my research when

dealing with the research pools. I have considered several factors cultural background, whether
or not these millennials are students and the stock they place on being present on social media

platforms. However, my claim is to all millennials so although these factors may skew my

research slightly I think it is important to include any type of millennial that falls in that age


Ethical Considerations

I am aware that some ethical concerns might arise. Being that my claim is that the

medias emphasis on beauty is having negative consequences on millennials my objective is to

have the people I research change their definition on beauty. As well as their social practices on

social media platforms. Although, I want the millennials I research to see my point of view I will

remain on bias when conducting my research. I will present the information and it will be up to

them whether or not they want to change. I do think my opinion is founded because it is

important for millennials to not change their social practices to fit what the media deems is

beauty. This reformist claim is directed towards my angst towards todays beauty standards and

the ethical problems with them. My reasons outweigh any ethical concerns because to often we

have seen what the pressures of society and the medias emphasis on beauty have negative

consequences. Leading to mental disorders/ psychological disorders such as bulimia and

anorexia nervosa. Although there will be ethical questions raised I will be able to answer them

and support that even though they are prevalent they are not detrimental to my proposal.


Ng, Eddy S. W., Sean T. Lyons, and Linda Schweitzer. Managing the New Workforce: International
Perspectives on the Millennial Generation. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2012. N. pag. Web. 6 June 2016.
Stein, Joel. "Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation." Time. Time, 20 May 2013. Web. 23 June 2016.

Stein, Joel. "Millennials: The Me Me Me Generation." Time. Time, 20 May 2013. Web. 23 June 2016.

Lee, Esther. "Kim Kardashian Bares Butt on Naked Paper Cover: The Internet's Best Reactions and
Memes." Us Weekly. Us Magazine, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 23 June 2016.

888Price, Shayla R. "Big Business: Buying Fake Instagram Followers." The Huffington Post., 13 Feb. 2015. Web. 23 June 2016.