Hello, I'm Frederika Alexis Cull, Miss Universe Indonesia 2019.
Redefining Beauty Standards
Body Image and Social Media
In 2019, Indonesia was ranked the 4th largest user of social media in the world with a total of 150 million users or 56% of the total population of Indonesia. In 2021, Indonesia is in the top 10 countries that are addicted to social media, with the average usage of 3 hours and 14 minutes, according to a research conducted by Hootsuite.
As a young woman and a public figure, have you ever experienced any body image and mental health issues?
Yes, of course. Before entering Puteri Indonesia, I already had body image issues and when I won, those issues increased, especially with social media. It's so easy for people to comment and critique your body, your appearance, and things you're already really insecure about.
They comment on it, and those comments increase our insecurity and hurt our self esteem.
Based on a survey conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), young people are susceptible to mental disorders. Have you suffered from mental issues especially about your body image?
I was very insecure about the way I looked. Just like many young Indonesian people, especially young girls out there. Each of them has insecurities about their face, their body, about small body image details, because we're so influenced by what we see on social media.
When I decided to enter a beauty pageant, all of my body parts that I felt insecure about were being commented on. For example, my cheeks. They used to be chubby. It was actually just because I was still young. But, you can't be chubby on social media. You have to be thin, you have to be slim. You have to look the best. I didn't feel like I was the best.
And how did it affect your daily life?
Initially it affected me badly. I felt less confident. I remembered times when I had to go to events, as Puteri Indonesia, whenever I had to give a speech or an interview about self love, or about how you're so confident, because when you're up at the stage, other people see that we are very confident women, who love our own bodies. But truthfully, I was fighting my own battle inside.
And I wasn't actually that confident about myself. Because I listen to other people too much.
They said I was lacking this and that. I was fighting to reach for perfection, but perfection doesn't exist. I felt like I was lying to myself and to other people, because I have to give out advice to young Indonesian woman, when their own role model doesn't feel comfortable in their own body.
What do you think about Beauty Standards, Body Image and Social Media today?
It's overly edited, especially in this era, where there are many filters, and applications which makes it easier to erase something from our body which, according to social media, is not ideal. It's so easy to erase that.
And we have to always remember that it's not real, it's not real. What we see on social media is just a facade. Just like filters. Everything is filtered. All the posts. Especially as a public figure, we always want to post good pictures, so netizens won't criticise us, so we don't receive bad comments, so our image will stay perfect.
Have you ever shown your face without any makeup on social media?
Maybe on my good days, yes. When my skin is in a good condition, nobody leaves a bad comment.
But when I look worn out and tired without any makeup on, and my skin doesn't look really good, they said that I look like a sick person "You look sick!" But, no. It's just my face with no makeup. It's normal.
It's normal to have pores and acne, especially at this young age. Of course I'll look different with and without makeup. There's gonna be a difference.
How does makeup affect your life?
As a beauty queen, makeup is very important. We use makeup almost everyday whether we like it or not. But before I ever entered a beauty pageant, I was actually very insecure without makeup. When I wasn't using makeup, I felt like I wasn't beautiful enough.
Maybe it was because I was influenced by social media. I looked at these beautiful girls. I wanted to be like them. So I didn't feel confident without wearing makeup. I began to wear makeup to school even though you're not meant to wear makeup to school. I did it because I felt insecure without makeup.
As a woman with dual citizenship, how does that affect your views on beauty?
If I'm too white, dad would criticise me, "you look like a sick person, get some sun, you look like a vampire."
If I'm too dark and tanned, mom would criticise me, “Don't be too dark, foreigners won't look at you”. Comments like that. So I was confused. But the thing to remember is, even though they're your parents, they are still other people. What's important is how you feel and the things that make you feel comfortable and more confident.
What do you think made you win Puteri Indonesia 2019?
The first thing that people notice is “looks”. They compared our faces; who's the prettiest. I also felt insecure because I was in a beauty contest with some of the most beautiful women in the country and the most beautiful women in the world and that made me think twice; am I actually good enough?
But the key to my success is actually when I stop focusing on my looks and comparing myself with other women, and focus on myself and realizing that I achieved everything I achieved not because of my looks, but because of my inner talent, the inner qualities that I got. Because that's irreplaceable.
This is what makes me special and this is what makes me Frederika.
Do you have any routines to increase your self love?
Learn from other people, especially from podcasts, books, and just learning from YouTube about other young girls who faced the same journey as us, and the same insecurities as us, and how they come out of it.
I love to learn. So learning about self love, mindfulness, gratefulness, and what's actually important in this life.
Because caring about your looks is actually superficial. If you care about other things, if you love other things, we will not care so much about our looks. For example, if we have a hobby or other passion, we won't be focusing so much on our looks.
Especially as a public figure, it's very important to find something else you love. Your work and your talent does not determine how beautiful you are. You are chosen not because of your looks, but because of your talent and that's what we always have to remind ourselves of.
Especially for me. As a beauty queen, maybe people thought that I was chosen because of my beauty or appearance, but hell no. There are a lot of other beautiful girls. There are so many beautiful girls, especially in Indonesia.
But what differentiates me from other women is what I have inside. It is my brain, it is the way I think, my experience, and talent. And that's what we need to focus on, because that will last forever.
What can we do to use social media in a more positive way?
You can start by following accounts that are relatable to you. Not only accounts that are run by beautiful women but follow accounts that you can actually learn something from.
Social Media Platform.
Social media is actually such a powerful platform that we can use not only to reconnect with one another, but we can learn and we can voice our opinions. So use it for that purpose.
Don't use it as a form of wasting time by scrolling through photos. But use your power and your voice to share opinions with your friends. You can do so many things, so… don't waste that.
So with all those ways, we have to learn from it and we have to build a better platform, not only for ourselves, but for our next generation as well so we can help each other and break down the beauty stigma on social media.
Let's work together, for a better future for all of us.
5 Body Image and Social Media Takeaways
1. Limit the usage of social media to 30 minutes everyday. Turn it into doing something positive.
2. Don't be ashamed to seek help regarding mental turbulence.
3. Use social media as a platform to get inspired, productive, or even business.
4. Enrich our soul with new knowledge, writing a journal, exercising, and finding new things.
5. Growing a sense of comfort towards our body is the key to acquiring true self love.