The maze of beauty, social media and femininity can be tough to navigate as a young woman today. Thankfully, there are people with platforms using their reach as a voice of honesty and change. Lauren Borgers, the London-based model represented by Models 1, is an example of a positive presence changing how we view beauty and happiness. We sat down with Borgers to hear about what she has learnt so far, the pressures of beauty standards and how she handles superficial happiness shown on social media.
What have you learnt – about your body or the surrounding world – as a result of your career?
At the end of the day our bodies and our health are the only things we can truly own in the world. This job has taught me that I should respect it and be so grateful for all it can do for me. It sounds cliche but I definitely look best when I’m healthiest. Thats when I’m sleeping enough, eating well and exercising. I rarely manage to do any of that but I’m working on it. This job can also be super hard on your mental health. Sometimes I don’t feel I belong in this industry and I’m not really sure why. I love the job and being a model but I often don’t feel like I’m living in the real world. It definitely takes a toll on me and I find myself trying to escape and disappear into the wilderness for a few days to recharge and ground myself.
Do you feel a pressure to attain to certain beauty standards?
Yes, for sure! Because of the industry that I’m in, my looks are constantly being scrutinised, but on the other hand no. How can I say I really feel that much pressure when the only reason I do the job I do is because I was be born into a body that generally fits within societies tight beauty standards. It feels so horrible to say that but I think its important that people recognise their privileges. I don’t agree with the standards we’ve set at all. They’re unobtainable and available to a select few. We as a society have decided what is beautiful and what is not and I’m glad that it slowly (very slowly) changing. I do feel pressure to conform to euroscentric beauty standards though. I’m constantly straightening my naturally curly hair and in some ways feel like I’m erasing part of my identity to please a certain audience. I’m often a token POC on shoots and feel like I’m doing an injustice to the enormous group I have to represent. But then ultimately if it means I’ll book more jobs then I don’t want to jeopardise my career.
“I do feel pressure to conform to euroscentric beauty standards though. I’m constantly straightening my naturally curly hair and in some ways feel like I’m erasing part of my identity to please a certain audience. I’m often a token POC on shoots and feel like I’m doing an injustice to the enormous group I have to represent.”
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📍Brecon Beacons, Wales I’ve been finding social media very stressful and felt under a lot of self-inflicted pressure to constantly post. I don’t want to project images of a perfect life or superficial happiness and would rather share my adventures and things or places I find beautiful in this world. The happiness shown here is genuine and the result of a wonderful weekend with the most amazing people. The UK has so much to offer and the Brecon Beacons in Wales is so easy to get to, with spectacular mountain views and incredible hiking routes. It’s magical and I’ll be back!!
We noticed that you’re vegan, do you have any tips for those wanting to adapt their lifestyle?
Going vegan was something that I knew I wanted to do for a while and as soon as I left home and moved to Paris I made the change. I went from full time meat lover to vegan overnight and to be honest I wouldn’t recommend doing that. It seems to be much easier to transition slowly until you get to a point where you realise you don’t want animal products any more. Education was the most effective tool for me. Learning about what truly happens to the animals during their life and at the end really opened my eyes. There are so many great documentaries on Netflix that helped me and as soon as you start to learn the facts its hard to ignore. Even if you don’t want to see it, it’s important to know the truth about whats going on in the world and then once you know whats happening to the animals, the environment and your body as a result of eating animals you can make your own decision. I think that most people do agree with the ethics behind it but it’s just that next stage of aligning your morals with your actions that can be hard. Take it one step at a time and don’t be hard on yourself if you’re not perfect because you’ll be making a difference in the world no matter what.
You mention a rejection of superficial happiness on social media. Could you talk a bit more about this? Do you think social media is a good architect for change?
Social media is a very curated version of our lives. We see what people want us to see and often after scrolling too much I’m just left feeling dissatisfied with my life. So many people make it their mission to convince others that they’re constantly having fun and I know girls who will head to the beach for the sole purpose of taking a shot for Instagram, and then leave. It’s also part of our job as a model so I don’t really blame them, but, it’s impacting peoples mental health.
We also need to remember that social media is a choice. That’s one of the great things about it. You have freedom over who you follow and what type of information you’re receiving. I’ve learned so much by following people like Shaun King, Munroe Bergdorf and James Aspey. For activists it is the best way to get their voice heard. Many movements are growing stronger as a result of social media and I think its great for allowing marginalised groups to have their voice heard as part of a community. Nowadays most protests are organised online and Facebook groups are a great way to connect with like-minded people. So, although it can be detrimental in many ways, it can also be used to bring about change and hopefully a better future.
“We also need to remember that social media is a choice.”
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What does the term femininity mean to you?
To me femininity is a very defined term. It’s delicate and pretty and completely a social construct. In my eyes, it has nothing to do with actually being a female and is more just a noun that can be applied to anyone. I think we can all chose to what degree we want to be ‘feminine’ and when. Some days I will wake up and decide I’m gonna go all out ‘girly’ and other times I’ve had people mistake me for a boy. I can’t see the definition changing but many of us have more freedom to chose how much we want to conform to it. Overall, I wouldn’t consider myself a very feminine person but I definitely adapt to give myself a more feminine persona when working as a model because I book more jobs that way. We all have the choice to be however we want to be. If you identify as a woman you don’t need to act or look feminine because, ultimately, it doesn’t affect how much of a woman you are.