Beauty and the Catfish

Beauty and the Catfish

As Instagram continues to grow in popularity, so does the occurrence of catfishing. What is catfishing? According to the Urban dictionary, catfishing is the phenomenon of Internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time). However, recently the slang has been used even more loosely as a term for those male or females who look attractive on their social media pages but who are far less appealing when you meet them in person.

In the past, catfishing would have been the equivalent of sucking in your stomach and taking a picture with your good side. Some individuals would beam, while others would assume a face of seriousness. And this was the sum of the ways you would attempt to look more attractive.

Today, however, there are far more elaborate means of increasing one’s appeal.

  • Make-Up – Women have been using make up for centuries. There is nothing new there. However, thanks to YouTube, every woman is a make-up artist. The foundation is caked on, the eyeliner is straight and steady, the eyeshadow is a work of art, in and of itself, and the eyelashes are long and full. Every woman is a Barbie doll.
  • Lighting – Angling the phone or camera where there is good lighting, increases the quality of the photo but can also contribute to adjusting the skin tone of the individual in the final product. The camera must be backing the light and the individual facing it, to achieve this. In other words, in these times, most of us have a basic knowledge of photography. I believe that this is the reason why so many girls were taking bathroom pictures at some point – the fluorescent lights make it easier to accomplish this.
  • Filters – There are those who no longer put a picture up on their social media without first using a filter. Filters are simple ways of adjusting the colour, intensity, and tone of the picture. A filter can not only hide the flaws in a person’s image, but also create an artistic feel. Every catfish knows the power of a filter. This is a tool used by both men and women.
  • The Pout – This tool is also known as ‘duck face’. It is when the individual presses their upper and lower lip together and pushes it slightly forward. It may remind one of the expression one makes just before a kiss; and perhaps that is why it is considered to be sexy by so many. It also gives the impression that the one pouting has bigger lips.

The truth is, there is nothing wrong in wanting to enhance one’s beauty, but when doing so, remember to be comfortable with who you are even when there is no make-up on and no filter to save the day. After all, you can’t walk around with a filter covering your face, or the right lighting following you.

We need to stop expecting perfection from our face and bodies and to begin to see the beauty in our flaws. Besides, those of you who firmly subscribe to catfishing will someday have to look in the mirror and face the fact that the guy or girl on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, smiling all the time, always looking good, always having something deep to say, is not you. And that who you are is even greater, than a two-dimensional, caked up, representation of today’s idea of what is beautiful.


Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at Kachifo and has been freelancing as a writer and editor since. She has had short stories published in anthologies and has also self published work. In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top ten spoken word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam.

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