Social media can be bad for a lot of people. I know myself when I read something online, I have to take a moment to really think about whether it applies to my life. Or if I see an image of someone, I have to consider the fact that it might be photoshopped in some way. I often take these things pretty seriously in understanding my self-value. As a grown woman, you would think that I could look a picture of someone and accept their beauty without getting wrapped up in how I look. Imagine if you’re younger though, and you’re trying to understand how you fit into the world. Which, of course, includes measuring your own looks against others.
This isn’t just a rant. Doctors have noticed a new trend – people want to change their body to look like their edited selfies. Specifically, they’re referring to photos of themselves when taken with apps like Snapchat that apply filters to instantly “touch up” their appearance. Wanting to look different than you do is known as body dysmorphia, but now this phenomenon has its own name: Snapchat dysmorphia.
This trend is being described by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology, which appears in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery. Essentially, what is happening is that people aren’t happy with their body when they compare it to how they look in a filtered photo. We’ve all seen those pictures where someone (ourselves included) look really good when a filter is applied. So why can’t we look like that in real life? The report indicates that this might not be attainable, as it blurs the line between reality and fantasy.
In the past, people brought photos of celebrities to use as templates for their cosmetic surgeries. But now they’re using apps to preview how they would look. This is really dangerous though, don’t you think? It’s all fine and well to apply a filter and then post a picture or a video of yourself on social media, but now you want to look like that permanently? What does this do to a 12-year-old girl who already thinks that there is something wrong with her face or body? Shouldn’t there be a “love yourself” campaign?
Am I being sexist if I suggest that this is being targeted at women? That’s not to say that males don’t use the filters, but I would hazard a guess that the patients who are bringing these images forward are women. The more that we use these filters, the more that we get a sense of how we should look. We get this idea that we aren’t good enough based on how we look. Shouldn’t we embrace our differences?
If I’m being honest, I don’t think we are doing a good job at loving ourselves. As I said earlier, why can’t I look at a picture of someone beautiful, and accept the fact that they are beautiful in a different way than I am? I’d like to think that I can, but I know that this isn’t always my strength. While I love social media for what it can do for us, I’m worried about what it’s doing to young people. Why do you feel like you need a filter to be applied to your face permanently? In 5 or 10 years, you’re going to regret making those changes because maybe you don’t know who you are yet. Regardless, this phenomenon is extremely scary and I would caution people against it.