We’re all guilty of using a Snapchat filter or two… or three, garnering us that infamous side-eye from our less-than-eager friends. (You know the ones.) Some of us may even be guilty of downloading Snapchat solely for the filter appeal. You know, just to “see what it looks like.” *Ahem*.
Aside from the more obvious puppy ears and flower-crown filters that ruthlessly invaded our Instagram feeds (a dark time indeed), Snapchat has consistently supplied us with a steady stream of “subtle” facial editing in the form of airbrushed skin, slimmer face, and elongated lashes. While this was once considered harmless selfie magic, according to doctors it is now cause for worry.
“A new phenomenon called ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’ has popped up, where patients are seeking out surgery to help them appear like the filtered versions of themselves,” said Dr Neelam Vashi, director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Centre.
According to plastic surgeons, patients (namely millennials) are no longer bringing in photos of celebs, but are instead bringing in photos to look like themselves… heavily edited and filtered versions of themselves, that is.
With filtered images becoming a widespread norm blurring the lines between reality and fantasy, conventional ideas of attractiveness have changed, thereby affecting self-esteem and triggering disorders such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (characterised by an unhealthy obsession with a perceived flaw), or ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’.
In 2017, surveys found that 55 per cent of surgeons reported encountering patients who requested surgery to look more like their selfies - a 13 per cent increase from the previous year. Not only that, but the last few years have seen a steady decrease in the average age of those seeking plastic surgery.
"Filtered selfies can make people lose touch with reality, creating the expectation we are supposed to look perfectly primped and filtered at all times,” says Dr Vashi. While a number of experts have cautioned against Snapchat Dysmorphia, Dr Vashi says it is unlikely that behaviours towards selfies and filters will change in the near future and reminds us of the growing importance of understanding the implications of social media on body image and being mindful as we continue to use it.
Photos: Jason Lloyd-Evans and Instagram