BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)

Faculty / School

School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS)


Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Date of Submission



Zainab Tariq, Lecturer, Department of Social Sciences

Project Type

SSLA Culminating Experience

Access Type

Restricted Access


This research consists of a qualitative and quantitative study of social media content on Facebook and Instagram, as well advertisements by global brands to observe and analyze the two conflicting social media productions surrounding beauty narratives, i.e. one that promotes a negative and limiting standard of beauty and one that advocates for diversity and inclusion. The research aims to uncover what the predominant and counter-narrative looks like, how beauty narratives have changed over time or are continuing to change as a result of the above, how social media is used by both these narratives and how effective and impactful the counter-narrative has been using social media as a platform to create discourse regarding colorism and body-shaming.

As part of triangulation, the study consists of visual analysis of advertisements by global brands and illustrations by South Asian artists and influencers, research on South Asian social movements, interviews with artists and the founder of ‘Dark is Divine’, research on the usage of filters and photo-editing apps, and a survey to determine the effectiveness of certain advocacy campaigns promoted by individuals such as celebrities, influencers, artists, activists and so on via using hashtags and blogs, etc.

Findings suggest that though there has been a shift in the predominant narrative, South Asian societies are far from truly accepting and implementing body positivity and inclusivity for diverse populations on a large-scale or systematic level. However, the counter-narrative has been particularly impactful on an individualized level i.e. has contributed heavily to self-acceptance, esteem, and empowerment of people who do not represent the predominant and westernized ideals of beauty.



Challenging colorism & body-shaming on social media (Responses).xlsx (55 kB)
survey data

Interview Profiles.docx (13 kB)
interview profiles

Interview with Fatima Lodhi.docx (16 kB)
interview with Fatima Lodhi, Dark is Divine

Interview with Shehzil Malik.docx (33 kB)
interview with Shehzil Malik, Illustrator and activist

Written interview with Fatima Baig.docx (14 kB)
interview with Fatima Baig, Illustrator

The full text of this document is only accessible to authorized users, but a short version can be found as an additional file below.