Snapchat and Instagram filters have become very realistic in recent years; lip injections no longer cost hundreds of pounds, you just need to put a filter on. But is this damaging young girl’s mental health and self-esteem in the long run?
Dove launched a campaign last month that adressed the impact of filters on the self-esteem of girls. They found that by the age of thirteen, 85% have used a retouching app or filter. Dove also found in their study that the longer people spent on editing these photos, the lower their self-confidence became. We have a pandemic of low self-esteem that just seem’s to be getting worse and worse (with no cure in sight).
Any insecurities you have with your face can be wiped away within seconds, that spot on your cheek? Gone. Didn’t get enough sleep last night? Goodbye eye bags! And this can become very addictive for young girls who are impressionable and may already be feeling self conscious about the way they look.
Do I need plastic surgery?, is a question that I never thought I would ask myself until I started using filters regularly on social media. I’ve always been quite confident in the way that I look and never had any issues in the past with my self esteem. However over the past year, I became curious and started trying out different filters on my face – and very quickly, I was hooked on them.
The filters became additive so fast that I didn’t even realise it was an issue until I found myself telling a friend that I didn’t think I looked attractive without one. I had gotten so used to the big lips and doe eyes the filters gave me, that when I looked at my natural face, all I saw were my imperfections. How ugly the bump on my nose is or how I wished my jawline was more defined, all things that didn’t bother me before I started using filters regularly.
Associate psychology professor at the Hope International University stated that, “There’s a well-established link between social media usage and psychological concerns. Instagram has been tied to anxiety and depressive symptoms, but also to concerns such as anxiety related to physical appearance, increased body dissatisfaction and lower self esteem.” With the increased amount of time we are all spending on social media during the pandemic, these issues will only be exacerbated.
This phenomenon has been coined “snapchat dysmorphia” by cosmetic surgeons. In this new social media age, with it becoming easier and easier to create a more “desirable” version of yourself with the use of filters or apps (like facetune), there are many opportunities for us all to scrutinise and compare our faces. Not just with other people now, but we can judge ourselves based upon our own more appealing edited selfies. Recently, cosmetic surgeons have noticed that people who bring in edited or filtered selfies are much more critical of themselves, and will point out what they want changed based on these photos. A lot of the time it isn’t even possible to complete what they ask for. The term selfie dysmorphia isn’t yet recognised as an official diagnosis but it is clear that it shares ties with some very serious mental health issues.
I think the best thing we can do for our own mental health is to unplug from the fake world of social media. People aren’t going to post the 50 bad selfies they took that day; they’ll choose the one that reflects them in the best possible lighting. They aren’t going to post about the horrible day they’ve just had, but you can bet they’ll be posting about their new job. It’s important to take everything you see online with a pinch of salt, don’t trust all the selfies you see and don’t compare your life to others, for it won’t make yours any better.
Focus on yourself and the rest will come naturally. I found that once I stopped using filters every day on my face, I started to notice my own natural beauty a lot more and my self-esteem skyrocketed. So, I set all you reading this a challenge: try not to use any filters or edit your selfies for a week, and see how your self-confidence grows.
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