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Selfies undisguised – living for the likes

The German Cosmetic, Toiletry, Perfumery and Detergent Association (IKW) publishes the results of the new youth study “Selfies undisguised”, conducted by Lönneker & Imdahl rheingold salon.

Selfies go naturally with the life of young people. 85% of them take selfies, 39% click on the release once a week and 26% state that they even take pictures of themselves every day. But only a very few consider that they are selfie makers. Merely 27% of the young people admit that selfies have a central significance for them. The in‐depth psychological‐representative study “Selfies undisguised” decodes why boys and girls deal with the topic of selfies in such an ambivalent manner and the relevance selfies actually have for them.

In qualitative individual interviews the young people disclosed that it is on the one Hand embarrassing for them to take selfies. This is why selfies were simply reinterpreted as portraits, vacation pictures or pictures with friends. However, on the other hand, it is very important fort hem to show through an individual style, posing as well as the selection of the right background and makeup that they know the kind of selfies that are currently hip. 50% of the respondents state that they can identify whether a selfie is up to date. Ines Imdahl, Director of Studies and Managing Director of Lönnecker & Imdahl rheingold salon: “Selfies are today part and parcel of the self‐discovery of young people. By setting themselves apart from others, stating that they have nothing to do with the selfie hype and following at the same time all the secret codes of selfie making, they find their own style and their own personality between these two extremes. Consequently, selfies are extremely important for boys and girls.”

The significance of selfies for young people is also documented by their longing for recognition by others. The more likes and positive comments, the higher their own recognition – and this is also an indicator for their own self‐love. 47% admit that they feel better if they get more likes. In order for the number of likes to remain high, young people try to stage themselves in the best possible way in the selfies. They control every single detail. 57% of the girls and 51% of the boys pay very close attention to the way they put themselves in the limelight on selfies. Cosmetic products support them in looking on selfies the way they want. 63% of the girls apply decorative cosmetics beforehand, 69% use makeup beforehand and more than half pay attention to their hair styling. Nothing is left to chance. Friends, partners and family members are likewise precisely positioned for a perfect Selfies.

Behind this selfie hype there is an extreme desire for control. The IKW youth study “Youth undisguised” of 2016 showed already that many young people are feeling uncertain at the present time and are searching for security and control in their life. The current study deepend this finding: the need of young people for control is so high that they make a major effort for their appearance and a perfect selfie. 67% of the respondents state that they control their appearance and their effect on selfies. A well shot selfie gives young people the feeling to have their own life under control and strengthens their self‐confidence.

In order to represent their life in the best possible way, boys and girls take a lot of Pictures until they have the right one. 45% of the girls state that they take more than 50 selfies before they post one. This is for them the only way to be sure that they display only what they really want to show – a nice and controlled life in flashback, that the young people can design themselves. 66% believe that with selfies they can relive their life once more. 44% of the Young people even say that what they experienced is only great after it has been liked by others.

Birgit Huber, Head of the Beauty Care Department at IKW: “We wanted to know what’s behind all of this selfie hype. We knew already from earlier studies that young people have a strong need for control. This has been confirmed by the new study. It is interesting to learn that the emphasis on the appearance is not an end in itself for the adolescents, but cosmetics help them to express and represent themselves as they would like to be.”

Within the framework of the qualitative survey, individual in‐depth interviews were conducted with a total of 20 young women and men aged between 14 and 21 years. For therepresentative quantitative survey more than 1,000 young women and men aged between 14 and 21 years were interviewed.

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