Pretty Hurts: The Insidious Side of Insta-Beauty

It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Self-proclaimed “makeup enthusiast” and Instagram beauty Victoria Katei (@vicxkat) learned this the hard way when she was brave enough to get real with her over-50,000 followers, showing herself with and without makeup.

@vicxkat (screenshot from Instagram)
@vicxkat (screenshot from Instagram)

The comments weren’t universally kind—not by a long shot. Commenters accused Victoria of “catfishing” and self-hating. Her accompanying caption read:

Me being cute vs. me being cute. Recently it seems like so many people have something to say about the way I look with or without (makeup) or about the fact that I don’t post pictures without makeup. Accounts have been posting pictures of me with makeup versus no makeup telling me I’m a catfish and that I’m hideous. People in the comments telling me to kill my self because I’m lying about my looks. Telling me that no one will love me (because) I’m so ugly and have to wear makeup to cover my “real face.” And as this has happened I learned what people say about you has so much more to do with them as a person than it does you as an individual. First I want to clarify: I love the way I look in makeup and out of makeup. I don’t wear makeup to hide or to “catfish” people because I don’t give a shit what any guy or girl has to say about how I look. And I’m not going to lie it gets to me, some comments are so vile they make me cry but I always remind myself that I’m more than my looks...I’m a normal human being. There so many girls who say they look up to me, who say they wish they were as pretty as me but looks aren’t what make you pretty. Your hobbies, your passions, and your mind are what make you who you are and being uniquely you makes you beautiful. makeup is a passion of mine and this is the platform I choose to express that and if you don’t like that feel free to unfollow because I’m never going to apologize for being me.


Here at The Glow Up, we’re firm believers that makeup is magic; it can enhance, correct, build confidence and creativity and even transform. We love to play in it, promote it and push its potential to the limit.

That said, we often find ourselves teetering on the blade of a double-edged sword. With the rise of Instagram and YouTube has come a spate of beauty aficionados and vloggers—but also a type of homogenized, contoured, Disney-princess beauty standard that threatens to undermine the very beauty of being “uniquely you” that Victoria so eloquently references above. Admittedly, it’s not our favorite look, but it’s the look of the moment, so ... so be it.

We agree with Victoria/@vicxkat: She’s “cute” with or without makeup, and clearly talented at her chosen passion. It’s fun to see someone play at this level of skill, so we’ll try not to read too much into the colored contacts and brightened “after” photo. It’s makeup, and makeup can be magic.

Besides, in a world where white women are lauded for “daring” to have cornrows—I mean, “boxer braids”—let alone having an abundance of ass, hips and thighs, we’re going to refrain from maligning a black woman for exploring the limits of her own beauty, wherever that takes her.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, an avid eyeshadow enthusiast and always her own muse. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.

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I know you wrote you didn’t want to get too much into the lighting/colorism issue, but my only comment about this story has always been how much lighter her skin (and eyes) are in the after photo.

While Victoria has been bullied with vile comments about being ugly (which is ridiculous), there were a lot of comments questioning why her before photo had beautiful brown skin and her after photo is much lighter. In another article I read on this, Victoria stated the after photo just had different lighting and she does not wear foundation that is too light for her skin color. She also stated she knows she is brown and she is proud to be brown.

I know that’s not the focus here, but the difference between the before/after is so stark it’s hard not to notice. I certainly hope it’s true that this was just a lighting issue and she doesn’t regularly lighten her skin to fit a certain standard of beauty.

Other than that one comment, I wish her the best. Social media is not a friendly space, unfortunately.