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Perfect: Feeling Judged on Social Media // Rosalind Gill

Perfect: Feeling Judged on Social Media // Rosalind Gill

Polity,  2023, 256 pages

#socialmedia #beautyindustry #digitilization

Compared with previous generations, young people today live in a world where images of women’s bodies are ubiquitous. Social media are replete with images of ‘perfection’. But many of these images are unrealistic and unattainable and contribute to a pervasive sense of never being good enough: not thin enough; not pretty enough; not cool enough…

In Perfect, Rosalind Gill offers a rich and compelling analysis of young people’s lives on social media. Challenging polarised perspectives that see young people as either passive victims of social media or as savvy digital natives, Gill highlights young people’s paradoxical and ambivalent relationships with social media. The book reveals the pleasures that come from getting likes and followers and from feeling connected to friends, but it also reveals the anxiety that comes from posting material, and from the wider culture of ‘haters’. Importantly, the book exposes the significant pressure young people feel to post the ‘perfect’ image and their sophistication in being able to deconstruct such images. As Gill shows, they strive to present their own version of perfection, which extends beyond appearance to images that display the ‘right’ kinds of feelings and attitudes. Grounded in young women’s own words and stories, the book, above all, reveals three overriding and powerful experiences that young women feel on social media: the feeling of being watched all the time; the fear of getting things wrong; and the pressure to live up to an ideal of being ‘perfect’.

Written with passion and empathy, Perfect is a wake-up call for everyone concerned by the impact of social media on young people. It is also essential reading for students and scholars in media and communications, psychology, cultural studies, sociology, and gender.


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