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App Filters Can Affect Mental Health

The selfie culture puts too much pressure on young people to try to alter their appearance. As a result, cosmetic surgeries and procedures are becoming increasingly popular with teens who want to look exactly like themselves with filters.

The Woman Post | Carolina Rodríguez Monclou

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Instagram and Snapchat are working to make sure they are here to stay. Social media sites continually find new ways to evolve your selfie. The most notable feature of Snapchat is called lenses, and it's when the app uses augmented reality on your face. Instagram quickly added its own version.

These filters are a fun way to change your age, gender or make a complete change to your image. But when you look closer, you may notice that some of these filters change your features: bigger eyes, longer lashes, higher cheekbones, and smoother, pore-free skin. Then, photo editing apps like Facetune allow you to play around with your image in real-time, whiten your teeth, slim your nose, brighten your eyes, and plump your lips.

Digital touch-ups that are intended to hide some flaws conform to an unrealistic and often unattainable standard of beauty and give some the impression that they have the opportunity to look "perfect."

That can affect a person's self-esteem and, in some cases, cause dependency.

What is Selfie Dysmorphia?

Thorold News defines this phenomenon as "a body image disorder defined as a need to heavily edit one's digital image and an intense dissatisfaction with one's appearance after using digital filters."

In severe cases, it can lead to drastic actions. Dr. Tijion Esho, an award-winning UK cosmetic doctor at The Esho Clinic, told Global News about this problem: "One of the strangest I had was that a patient really wanted bigger eyes like the actual filter would give her. It was impossible to give her big eyes, and I tried many times to explain why this was not possible, even surgically. "

These are the cosmetic surgeon's words who coined the term selfie dysmorphia after noticing an alarming trend among his younger patients.

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According to Dr. Esho, patients used to bring photos of celebrities, for example, Angelina Jolie's jawline or someone else's nose, because it helped them describe what they needed for the procedure. However, he began to notice when people used altered and leaked versions of themselves. "They wanted to look exactly like that image," emphasizes Dr. Esho.

A phenomenon that was not exclusive to its practice in the United Kingdom. According to the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, "In 2017, 55% of surgeons reported seeing patients requesting surgery to improve their appearance in selfies, compared to 42% in 2015."

In 2018, another study from the Medical Society for Plastic Surgeons in the US revealed a 24% increase in cosmetic or injectable surgery in patients under 30 since 2013.

While selfie dysmorphia is not a medically recognized condition, experts say it could sign a larger mental health problem.

Kristin Greco, social worker, psychotherapist, clinical director, and founder of the Newmarket Psychotherapy Team, notes that the pressure that social media places on young people regarding their body and face are overwhelming, for many of them can create symptoms like depression, low self-esteem, and confidence problems.

While trends like the #NoFilter hashtag drive a more authentic online presence, it's hard to resist the temptation to get a seemingly perfect image.