Like most beauty bloggers, Huda Kattan, better known as Huda Beauty, shares flawless selfies that show off her perfectly contoured cheeks and full-on makeup. The 33-year-old's makeup is always on point, like so many other beauty influencers out there on Instagram.
Unlike many of those bloggers, however, Kattan isn't shy about admitting when the photos aren't as natural or "real" as they seem.
In a Q&A interview with Fashionista, Kattan got real about what kind of work goes into getting those Instagram-perfect shots:
Fashionista: Does it really take dozens of shots to get the perfect one?
In short, Kattan uses a Photoshop-like tool to edit her photos, and she's unapologetic about it. She also told Fashionista that she's had work done on her face.
"I'm going to be perfectly honest," she said. "I have gone under the knife. I've never said I haven't had plastic surgery. I've talked about fillers."
Instagram gets honest: Kattan's honest answer is a refreshing take on the rigorously constructed, artificial nature of social media. Instagram in particular has recently come under scrutiny for the unrealistic images promoted by many on the platform.
Now, Instagram stars are speaking out against the artifice. In early November, for instance, Essena O'Neill, an 18-year-old Australian with a massive social following, decided she'd had enough of the fake lifestyle she was living out online. So she deleted more than 2,000 of her photos on Instagram and started re-captioning old images to call out how she'd been paid to promote certain brands in photos and how posed many of the "candid" photos were.
"It was never my conscious intention, but I deluded a lot of people," she wrote in one Instagram post. "Call it deception, manipulation, lying, not saying the whole truth ... I was both addicted to social approval and terrified no one would value me for myself."
Walking a fine line: Like O'Neill, Kattan also struggles with how "real" and honest to be on social media, but has come to a different conclusion.
"I'm a beauty blogger and you're supposed to be as honest as possible," she told Fashionista. "I would love to come out and say, 'Hey, I had a rhinoplasty.' I do feel a little nervous about it. I don't mind you posting that, but I feel different about saying it on my Instagram."
That balance between looking beautiful and aspirational, while also being real and accessible, is a line nearly all bloggers and lifestyle influencers walk. Kattan is spot-on in noting that the role of a beauty blogger is to be honest: If your followers look up to you for practical, step-by-step makeup advice, it makes sense to be forthcoming about your own beauty standards and what makeup can and can't do.
That "relatability factor" is crucial for successful social media figures, as the popularity of #nomakeup selfies and the move of bloggers to Snapchat makes clear. But being an online influencer also means showcasing a lifestyle that's beautiful and desirable — and these days, that's hard to do without a certain degree of artifice.
"You get negative comments all the time. ... Sometimes you can laugh and other times it can be really hurtful," Kattan told Fashionista. "But I think you do have to start having thick skin as you do this. ... You want the recognition, but you're also going to get a lot of people who don't like you."