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Music That Matters

Perceptions of Beauty: Kay Soul “As I Am”


‘With Instagram stars and twitter scars promoting
Multi images of beauty,
Comparing ourselves to the incomparable,
Living inside of society’s mold,
These are the words of a contrite heart’

Where’s the meaning?

Kay Soul’s timely lyrics provoke thought and reflection on the subtle, yet prominent, effects that social media, and media more generally, are having on social interactions and behavior, particularly amongst today’s youth. With the constant, incessant notifications of social media and the seemingly dopamine-esque rush that they create, The Keiser Family Foundation has found that the average youth (i.e. 13-18 years of age) spends approximately 9 hours a day consuming media.

Kay Soul’s lyrics touch upon the deeper context behind these startling statistics, that perception is, to a large degree, reality. With the concept of beauty, and the idea of what ‘type’ of beauty society values, largely dictated by a machine learning algorithm that ensures you see the pictures and videos that are most appealing to your past behavior, coupled with spending copious amount of time with media, the youth, and to an extent all of us, become ingrained with the social construct of beauty. And when we look in the mirror and do not see that which we see on social media, we try to conform ourselves to live in society’s mold of what we should be, as Kay so beautifully puts it. Whether this be through plastic surgery or clothes, new shoes to hair styles, we yearn to be accepted. Which is no flaw in itself, as human beings we have an inherent desire that burns at our core to be accepted, but is it the ethereal ‘society’ that we are trying to be accepted by and is that where we should be placing our efforts for acceptance?

In trying to be a vision of something that we are not, perhaps we lose ourselves in the process. And it is precisely this sentiment that Kay highlights when she says, ‘these are the words of a contrite heart’. With her soulful vocals and melodic sound, Kay has used this song to express that in a world where we consume concepts of beauty by the minute, we should stop and have a moment of introspection, to reflect on for whom are we trying to be accepted. And perhaps the answer is no one at all. True beauty is simply being you, or as Kay puts it “as I am.”

Muse Points

  • Think of the way you present yourself to the world. Who are you trying to impress? Who is it that you are trying to be accepted by?
  • Why is it the case that you want to be accepted by that particular group, institution, or person?
  • How has this desire to be accepted been influenced by social media?
  • Think upon your own social media behavior, can you point to times where you’ve been influenced by that platform’s ‘concept of beauty’?
  • To you, what does beauty mean and is your interpretation of beauty different than that which you see on social media?

Cause Warriors

The Keiser Family Foundation is a non-profit organization focusing on national health issues, as well as the U.S. role in global health policy. Unlike grant-making foundations, Kaiser develops and runs its own policy analysis, journalism and communications programs, sometimes in partnership with major news organizations.