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“Snapchat Dysmorphia” Fuels Unrealistic Beauty Standards

Ava Lawson | March 26, 2018 | Posted in News

teen girl depressed with cell phoneMost of us are unhappy with at least one aspect of our appearance, whether it’s thinning hair, a slightly crooked nose, or small lips. But the majority of us aren’t so bothered by these perceived “imperfections” as to let them affect our happiness or undermine the quality of our lives.

It’s a different story, however, with people who suffer from body dysmorphia. Also known as dysmorphic syndrome, this disorder causes obsessive thoughts about one’s appearance. People with body dysmorphia can spend hours every day fixating on some negative feature they don’t like. In many cases, this perceived defect isn’t even real. In others, the flaw is just horribly exaggerated in the person’s mind, causing severe emotional distress as they go to extreme measures to hide or correct it. Body dysmorphic syndrome is on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum. People may be so preoccupied with their cosmetic flaws that they isolate themselves socially, miss work or school, and in some cases, seek out plastic surgery.

Losing perspective of what we look like

Social media has played a large role in fueling this unhealthy obsession with attaining a “perfect” appearance. It isn’t enough to idolize Kyle Jenner’s plump lips or Meghan Markle’s perky nose. We are beginning to lose perspective and forget what the real normal is. With a few quick clicks, we can apply filters on Snapchat and Instagram to smooth out our complexion, super-size our eyes, and erase wrinkles and freckles.  Increasing numbers of women are using these highly-filtered selfies as their new beauty standard. In a recent Huffington Post article on the subject, one expert dubbed this disturbing trend “Snapchat Dysmorphia.”

“It’s not enough [to] have to compare yourself to these perfected images of models, but now you’ve got this daily comparison of your real self to this intentional or unintentional fake self that you present on social media. It’s just one more way to feel like you’re falling short every day,” Renee Engeln told the Huffington Post. A psychology professor at Northwestern University, Engeln penned a book on the topic called Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women.

Wanting to have tiny pores and flawless skin is nothing new, says Engeln. But this unrelenting pressure to conform to unrealistic beauty standards is treading dangerous ground.

Some patients are bringing in filtered selfies to their plastic surgeons as examples of what they want to look like.  But is using a filtered version of yourself for cosmetic inspiration healthy and realistic?

It raises the question: Are Snapchat filters encouraging body dysmorphia? Are we now too obsessed with achieving perfection, as if we were all competing in a cut-throat beauty pageant?

Cosmetic enhancements can have a life-changing effect, but ONLY if you have realistic expectations

Lip fillers, Botox and laser skin treatments can bring great aesthetic enhancements, but should only be undertaken by those with realistic expectations and healthy motivations. Cosmetic surgery will not change your life overnight. It isn’t a miracle.

For the right candidates, says New York cosmetic surgeon Dr. Thomas Loeb, plastic surgery is not about following a popular beauty trend, but improving one’s self confidence and body image. To arrange a personal consultation with Dr. Loeb in Manhattan, call 212-327-3700.

Read More about Snapchat Dysmorphia:

  1. Huffington Post, Snapchat Dysmorphia’ Points To A Troubling New Trend In Plastic Surgery
  2. ADAA, Body Dysmorphic Disorder
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