By Polina Pallieraki,
In this day and age, due to self-isolation, people tend to find a refuge on online platforms and spend much of their free time there. This inevitably leads people to comparing themselves to others more than ever before. In fact, in social media, with more than 95 million photos and videos a day and counting, a great development has been observed, according to Instagram’s and Facebook’s last records. At face value, these platforms offer us many opportunities; they allow us to come across places, people and things with incredible ease. However, they also feed us an immense reel of highly-improved and cautiously-assembled faces and bodies. Which does not do our emotional well-being much good.
Nowadays, in the stage of social distancing, effortless pleasures, like travel, going to a bar, attending concerts, and more, came to rest. Our personal spaces, have become centers for work, which means that our life has changed into a virtual reality: We go on FaceTime dates, we have tele-medicine checkups with doctors, we celebrate house party birthdays, we attend Zoom weddings, we livestream workout classes from our favorite fitness directions etc.
Deliberately, involvement in most social platforms forces us to consume and contribute to a cycle of continual comparison; obtain the “perfect” shot, edit and upload it, then go scroll everyone else’s attempts as we wait for them to bear out ours. A cycle, which a number of studies have shown that leads to depression, body representation anxieties and long-standing mental health problems. And if it was not bad enough, as unprincipled few decided to add ”beauty filters” to it. In a few words, this means that photo editing apps went from sprucing up low-quality photos (cropping, saturating, light-balancing, etc.) to completely modifying the way people really look like by smoothing out skin, bloating eyes, raising cheekbones, resizing faces, reshaping body etc.)
Modern technology has given people the photo-manipulating ability of an experienced graphic designer. According to researches, in 2018, 55% of surgeons had discovered that in order for people to improve their appearance for selfies and this prevalent nature of filtered images, regularly activate body dysmorphia.
Paul Nassif, the plastic surgeon well known for sessions of the reality shows, said: ”Public thinking has changed. More people are embracing fillers and botox to recreate the effect of filters and other photo editing apps. It is becoming very normal”. Normal yet, with the enormous adoption of photo-editing apps like Facetune and B612, increasingly extensive. These apps, commercialize insecurities. They offer essential tools for blurring, stretching, reducing, reshaping and whitening any personally-appraised ”blemish” and they are downloaded by millions. 1 to 1.5 million doctored images are exported from Facetune on a daily basis. Personally, the discovery of reigning ”Beauty and Filter Camera” B126 has fundamentally become the world’s virtual plastic surgeon. And its capacities are among some of the most extreme we have ever come across.
People who have social media as their main piece of work, can easily acknowledge the people’s tense to have ”flawless” skin, body and makeup in any picture. For instance, the personal trainer and Instagram influencer Carly Rowena sees its effect first-hand. ”Frequently my clients show me a photo of how they would like to look and, similarly, this will be an image of themselves that they altered using apps”, she says. ”I have made a conscious effort not to follow or interrelate with accounts that use filters or photoshop in order to change their appearance entirely- it is not veritable; it does not inspire joy and it is triggering to me and others’‘. Unfortunately, it is not always easy for the untutored eye to mark an edited photo. Particularly when they have grown up adjoining by them. YMCA’s Be Real Campaign found that 52% of teenagers from 11 to 16 years old, felt social media place expectations and pressures over how they are ”supposed” to look and that 30% were evacuating and isolating themselves from activities because of body image anxiety.
Denise Hatton, Chief Executive, YMCA England and Wales said: ”Over the past few years, the challenge has been to address the overuse of filters to modify images. It is known that young people, specifically, are feeling the effects of a society which continuously places such a high merit on how people look.”
Unfortunately, there are many examples of youngsters who use these filters. For instance, we have Alec Bayot, a 21-year-old girl in Los Angeles area who has downloaded and deleted Facetune several times. ”I am on social media basically 24/7. I make most of my hair, fashion and beauty decisions based on what I see there, so I does play a big part in what I look like”, Bayot says.
Another example is Amanda Wilson, a 32-year-old in New York, who also uses filters quite often. She has been using them to keep up appearances, especially in isolation, since her real-life lip filler started disbanding as doctors’ offices remained closed. In the app, ”I fade my skin, thin my face, and add a little plumpness in my lips”, she says. ”It has for sure affected how I look at myself”.
These women are not alone in their usage- Facetune’s parent company, Lightricks, announced that as social distancing began, use of its apps enlarged by 20%. Plus, people spent more than a quarter of their time during a day editing their videos. That is on top of Facetune’s already giant influence. Even if people are not willing to pay to use Facetune, they probably belong to the part of people who use this kind of tools in Facebook, Instagram or Messenger. A doctor stated that the continuous use of these applications may lead to an obsessive-compulsive tendency around body images. No one is “perfect” all day, each day. Nowadays, society has put crucially high standards regarding beauty levels. And as these digital lenses become our permanent reality, the way we see ourselves is enormously deviating.
Social media recompenses those who edit their way to the ”likes” and ”followers” we are trained to look for. However, we do not have to play along. Instead, we ought to limit our scroll time and question the images we run across (and inevitably compare ourselves to) like the images we would see in a magazine. This is not the time for us to be compared and desperate, but the answer is up to us
- Women’s Health, It’s easier than ever to make a new face on social media. But is it killing your confidence? Available here
- Artificial Intelligence, Beauty filters are changing the way young girls see themselves. Available here