In Brief

Plastic surgery patients seeking ‘filtered selfies’ look

So-called Snapchat dysmorphia on the rise, new research finds

Unrealistic expectations triggered by airbrushed selfies is being blamed for an alarming new trend of people seeking plastic surgery in ordered to resemble their filtered selves in real life.

According to a new study, images filtered on smartphone apps are having a “disastrous impact on people’s self-esteem” - an effect that has been dubbed “Snapchat dysmorphia”.

In a paper published in journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery, researchers from Boston Medical Center argue that photo-editing technology on apps and social media sites is “changing perceptions of beauty around the world”.

“This is an alarming trend because those filtered selfies often present an unattainable look and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients,” the report adds.

“The pervasiveness of these filtered images can take a toll on one’s self-esteem, make one feel inadequate for not looking a certain way in the real world.”

As The Guardian notes, “airbrushed, unrealistic representations of women in fashion magazines have been blamed for the increasing incidences of eating disorders” in women and teenage girls.

And while airbrushing technology was once only available to professional photographers or artists, apps such as Line Camera and Facetune now “give users easy tools to make their faces appear thinner, more symmetrical and blemish-free, before posting them to Facebook”, the newspaper adds.

In a 2015 survey, although more than two-thirds of females said it is immoral for magazines to airbrush photos, 57% admitted to regularly editing their own social media pictures to enhance their appearance.

“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. Filtered selfies especially can have harmful effects on adolescents or those with BDD [body dysmorphic disorder] because these groups may more severely internalise this beauty standard,” the report warns.

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