There’s no denying social media has changed the way that we see ourselves- but does it have such a high influence that it’s causing people to go under the knife in order to achieve their dream appearance?
Not too long ago if photos were taken of us they had to be developed and printed- we didn’t have access to the content immediately. Photos of ourselves would be shared around the coffee table, not the Internet. If we looked goofy in a few, we could brush it off as being something as simple as a bad hair day and not think about it too much. However, as cameras became more accessible, and camera phones raged in popularity, it seemed as if everyone had the ability to record themselves at any moment. As social media platforms began connecting people from all over the world, suddenly everyone had a stage to showcase themselves on, with one of the main focuses being on physical appearance. This constant awareness has caused a shift in how we have come to view ourselves- and plastic surgeons have noticed this trend.
The “Selfie” has taken the world by storm. When I checked how many posts are currently using the hashtag #Selfie on Instagram, the number was over 428 million- and that’s just people that are actually using that hashtag for their photo. It should also be acknowledged that that number is increasing by the second. As a selfie is simply the act of taking a photo of yourself, it makes sense that it has dramatically increased self-awareness. The problem with this method of taking photos however is that what we’re seeing isn’t entirely accurate. No matter what, camera angles are constantly manipulating the way we look. When taking a selfie, the shot is typically only being taken from a few feet away from your face. This can dramatically alter your entire appearance, and even has the ability to make your nose look up to 33% larger.
Many people choosing to undergo surgeries or alter their appearance have decided to do so in order to look better in photos. A survey conducted by facial plastic surgeons in 2017 found an increase of 55% of people wanting to get work done in order to look better in selfies. This rise can be widely credited to the fact that we now have the ability to easily change our appearance with different platforms. By using filters on Snapchat, Instagram or Facebook, users can now instantaneously alter their looks, softening any imperfections and creating a more “desirable” image. With easy to use apps such as Facetune, users can quickly change their physical appearance drastically, once again creating a more “desirable” image of themselves.
A new term called “Snapchat Dysmorphia” has been coined by a British cosmetic doctor named Tijion Esho. This new phenomenon came about when the doctor noticed an increase of patients bringing in selfies of themselves that had been altered by filters. They would show a photo of themselves with airbrushed skin, big, bright eyes and big lips. This was unrealistic as the photos they were hoping to look like had been digitally manipulated, causing simply unattainable results. This can be seen as dangerous as it has led many users to believing their self-worth is based on their appearance. For years, marketing companies have been using similar techniques to edit their models, which is believed to have significantly increased the rate of eating disorders in people, especially young women.
Another big factor that has caused a rise in plastic surgery is the societal acceptance of having these procedures done. Many celebrities and influencers will use their platforms to embrace their own personal surgeries and share their positive experiences with their audience. This brings more awareness to specific treatments, and could help persuade a user to receive a similar treatment. Kylie Jenner is a great example of this, as when she admitted in an interview that she gets lip fillers, a clinic in the UK saw the procedure increase by 70%.
This brings the ultimate question: are people choosing plastic surgery because they genuinely want to, or because they’re comparing themselves to what they’re seeing online? A recent study found that 42% of people reported feeling less confident about their body image because of social media- while being constantly surrounded by “picture perfect people,” it has led many users to believing their self-worth is based on their appearance.
As we continue to use social media as such a big part of our lives, it is without a doubt many people will continue to base their worth on their appearance. In order to combat this ideology, we must constantly be reminding ourselves that often what we are seeing on social media is not entirely real.
How do you think social media has impacted the plastic surgery industry? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
Twitter: “When I Grow up, I Want to Look Like a Snapchat Filter!” #PhotoshopMyLife – https://bit.ly/2XUbABA
Akbareian, Emma. (2015, May 7). Kylie Jenner Lip Filler Confession Leads to a 70% Increase in Enquiries for the Procedure. Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/news/kylie-jenner-lip-filler-confession-leads-to-70-rise-in-enquiries-for-the-procedure-10232716.html
Chiu, Allison. (2018, August 6). Patients are Desperate to Resemble Their Doctored Selfies. Plastic Surgeons Alarmed by ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia.’ The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/08/06/patients-are-desperate-to-resemble-their-doctored-selfies-plastic-surgeons-alarmed-by-snapchat-dysmorphia/?noredirect=on
Nuñez, Alanna. (n.d). Could Social Media Drive you to have Plastic Surgery? Shape. https://www.shape.com/lifestyle/could-social-media-drive-you-have-plastic-surgery
Parsa, Keon and Reilly, Michael. (2019, September 17). Social Media and the Rising Trend of Cosmetic Surgery. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/dissecting-plastic-surgery/201909/social-media-and-the-rising-trend-cosmetic-surgery