Social media makes photo editing pictures of yourself easier than ever. With a swipe of your Instagram or Snapchat filter, you can look like yourself — but with dog ears, or a flower crown, or with no wrinkles or acne scars. Your eyes can look bigger, your nose can look smaller, anything that you do not like about yourself can disappear with a tap of a filter, and this ease of transformation has gone to our heads, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology cautioned.
They dubbed the new phenomenon “Snapchat dysmorphia” in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, noting that “filtered selfies often present an unattainable look and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients.”
Social media fosters ‘Snaptchat dysmorphia’
The JAMA article said that people used to want to look like celebrities; now they want to look like their filtered selfies. “Now, it is not just celebrities propagating beauty standards: it is a classmate, a coworker, or a friend,” the doctors wrote. “It can be argued that these apps are making us lose touch with reality because we expect to look perfectly primped and filtered in real life as well.”
Neelam Vashi, a dermatologist and one of the authors of the JAMA article, said that her patients want to achieve that transformation with the instant convenience that social media gives them. “Sometimes I have patients who say, ‘I want every single spot gone, and I want it gone by this week or I want it gone tomorrow,’ because that’s what this filtered photograph gave them,” she said.
More people want to look better, not for the people they meet on the street, but the ones who can see them online. More than half of facial plastic surgeons — 55% — said they see patients who want surgeries to help them look better in selfies, a number that is up by 13% from 2016, according to a poll from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons.
Through social media, we are all connected to one another, but with that instant connection comes comparisons about how we measure up to our smooth, filtered selves. Social media makes it easier to share our self on a screen, but it may be bringing more insecurities to the surface about the difference between our self on Instagram and the self we see in the mirror.