Curious Q&A with Lemohang Lesenyeho on the Impact of Social Media on Beauty Standards

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For the longest time, beauty has been associated with solely the outward appearance of a woman. While we cannot entirely remove the concept of outward appearance from what we call beauty, we can broaden the spectrum of how we perceive beauty.

Every girl can agree that to be beautiful, you need to look a certain way and carry yourself in a certain manner. Social media has narrowed the manner in which we perceive beauty and that is affecting self-esteem of many girls.

Today we explore how the narrow perception of beauty has affected women in Lesotho, particularly in the modeling industry.

Kindly Introduce Yourself and State a Few of the Pageant Titles that You Hold.

My name is Lemohang Lesenyeho. I am a 19-year-old Mosotho model with the number of pageant titles. I have won Miss Lesotho High School, Miss World Diversity Lesotho, 2nd Princess for Miss Spring Lesotho and many others. This beautiful journey started in 2017 and has been the reason for my high level of confidence ever since.

What in your opinion has been the greatest obstacle in your modeling career?

I actually gave up on modeling in 2019 because of the high pressure of ‘the way a model should look like,’ that drives that industry.

I also have fears about how my smile looks like. Regardless of how much people cheer me up, when I am on stage, I get the fear that my smile is not as good as it should be.

This pressure to have a perfect smile, articulacy when answering questions as well as the perfect body are some of the things that have made me rethink my path as I take the break in pageantry.

What beauty standards do you think deter other females from joining pageantry?

Beauty in my opinion is very subjective. However, we live in a time where we are not sure whether the pictures we use to represent beauty are real or filtered. In short, the perfect skin, the small waist, the extra white teeth, the perfect eyebrow shape and many factors we see on social media are programming us to think that beauty needs to be perfect.

This idealization of social media dolls is hindering many girls from exploring their modeling talent because it sponsors insecurities in girls. As much as we would like to emphasize that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ I believe that we still have a lot of work to do to practically implement that statement.

What impact does social media have on the perception of beauty?

We could spend all day discussing this topic. What I would like to point out is that social media is ruining the confidence levels of many girls. Back in the day, beauty used to be about how well you carry yourself as a model.

Today, it’s about how many likes you have on your Instagram posts, how expensive your lifestyle is and how much your post is reposted. The worst part is that girls are becoming chained to the pattern of thought that their value or degree of beauty is supposed to be measured by how many likes they have on a picture.

That is where filters come in. It is utterly worrying that what we think is beautiful on social media was made ‘beautiful’ by auto-tune and a mountain of filters. We have lost the essence of what true beauty is because it is now determined by an unrealistic measurement.

How do you think girls can come back from the immense pressure of social media and perceive beauty the right way?

The first step is to broaden the spectrum in defining what beauty is. Beauty should not solely consist of physical aspects but should now comprise of intellectual, emotional, psychological and physical virtues.

In my opinion, the physical should take the smallest percentage in the whole package. Thereafter, I would advise girls to always remember that social media is an unrealistic display of what people look like. No matter how pressured they feel to look like a social media doll, they should never forget that real life beats social media by a long shot.

What practical steps can girls take to lessen the social media pressure they feel to look like the social media dolls?

Firstly, switch off the ‘like button’ on all Instagram posts. This will help them to stop placing their value on how many likes their posts have.

Secondly, think about what theme you would like to have on your social media. This could range from color patterns to food and many more.

Finally, be intentional about your posts. Let your posts be a representation of the real you and avoid trying to look like the next person in your posts. I say this because I believe that it is impossible to expect girls to stay away from social media, but we can change how we view it.

Let social media be a mural of your life journey and you will never want to be fake on it!

Any last words?

Well, I mentioned earlier that I gave up on pageantry, right? My love for it won the battle in my brain and I recently made a comeback by joining Miss Cultural Lesotho.

The reason I am mentioning this is that I want to advice girls to never let the pressure to look a certain way poison their love for pageants. As we move towards a better perception of beauty, I pray that many girls will learn that there is power in staying authentic. That is my message to them – stay authentic.

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Grace is an uprising youth activist who uses her voice to inspire and inform. She has worked internationally as the Deputy Secretary General with Model UN Impact. This is where she advocated for youth inclusivity in the implementation of the SDGs and further launched projects such as PHAHAMA MOSALI. She is currently the youngest SDGs Ambassador for the internationally renowned Global Citizens Innovative Solutions SDGs Challenge.