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Selfies, Filters, and Snapchat Dysmorphia by Abigail Fagan

The article Selfies, Filters, and Snapchat Dysmorphia: How Photo-Editing Harms Body Image, written by Abigail Fagan, raises a crucial question for the contemporary society of how social media influences our perception of the ideal body image that every person should have, according to the online influencers and opinion leaders (Fagan, 2020). More often than ever before, young people begin feeling anxious, insecure, and unconfident about their appearance when comparing themselves to others on Instagram or Snapchat. Influencers simultaneously post one excellent photo after another, triggering people to believe that they look perfect all the time and flaming others’ desire to look the same.

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Fagan (2020) points out those popular apps, such as FaceTune, help victims of social media influence achieve the body image of their dreams with photo-editing options, allowing them to plump their lips, sharpen their jawline, and post the edited picture on Instagram. Simultaneously, people still feel unconfident because they do not look like in their online images, which makes them refer to cosmetic surgeries that help achieve the same look like the one posted on Instagram. Fagan highlights that now people come to surgeons with curated selfies of themselves to enhance their real-life appearance. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the number of minimally invasive procedures increased three times from 2000 to 2018, and the alarming upward trend is not changing (Fagan, 2020).

Although people now can easily make themselves look better, the necessity to compare themselves to others does not fade away, Renee Engeln, a psychology professor at Northwestern University, claims (Fagan, 2020). The concept “Snapchat Dysmorphia,” suggested by researchers, provokes losing a sense of reality because of the new standards established by filtered influencers’ photos. Anyone around a person can apply new conventional yet unrealistic beauty ideals, invoking the need to contrast the self-reflected body image with the one self-posted continuously. Engeln says that such endless comparisons erode an individual’s self-esteem while being also time- and energy-consuming (Fagan, 2020). The International Journal of Eating Disorders article also states that the more girls are involved in comparing their body images, the more they become worried about their bodies and dieting.

Fagan (2020) emphasizes that 2-D photos contradict the 3D world because cosmetic surgery clients are tricked by the distortions of proportions related to taking selfies. Representatives of Stanford computer science and plastic surgeons at Rutgers revealed in a study that “selfies taken a foot away increase the perceived size of the nose by about 30 percent,” that results in person’s concerns over the body image and nose in that case (Fagan, 2020, para. 21). Nonetheless, the research by plastic surgeon Michael Reilly states that cosmetic procedures can enhance the perception of others’ personalities not only on social media but in real life, which implies the possible positive outcomes from the collaboration with those who improved their look.

Data suggests that cosmetic surgery can encourage people to become more confident and expand their social life. Nevertheless, for people with body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), the same procedure may contribute to the exacerbation of the disease, making people more sensitive and vulnerable (Fagan, 2020). People with BDD might be dissatisfied with the surgery result and feel distressed due to the high expectations. Therefore, experts urge surgeons to verify if a person has a BDD before starting the enhancement process.

From my perspective, the issue of social media impact is far from being comprehensively explored. In the future, many people might encounter worse consequences, such as depression and BDD, when comparing their outlooks with those from Instagram. Therefore, it is crucial to have a normal self-awareness and avoid judging one’s appearance by unrealistic and disruptive beauty standards. Moreover, social media should consider changing public opinion regarding ideal looks and encourage people to be themselves by establishing relevant social campaigns and promoting healthy beauty.

To conclude, Fagan (2020) summarizes the main ways how to strengthen one’s body image and perception. First, it is essential to educate yourself about unrealistic beauty standards imposed by influencers and social media. Second, looking at the mirror’s reflection objectively and avoiding negative words might help perceive the appearance positively. Finally, people should challenge the extremes that state that they should look either perfect or disgusting and take time off social media to work on something meaningful and valuable.

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Fagan, Abigail. Selfies, Filters, And Snapchat Dysmorphia: How Photo-Editing Harms Body Image. Psychology Today, 2020. Web.

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