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Selfies and filters affect body image
August 15, 2018, 3:28 pm

Use of instant photo-editing technology found in mobile apps such as Snapchat or Facetune, is allowing users to rapidly attain the level of physical ‘perfection’ usually seen in images of celebrities or in fashion magazines. As this new ‘norm’ of photo enhancements gather pace on social-media, perceptions of beauty worldwide are changing, says a new study by researchers at the Boston Medical Center in the US.

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is diagnosed in someone who has an excessive preoccupation with a perceived flaw in their appearance, and who goes to extreme and sometimes unhealthy lengths to hide their ‘imperfection’.

The study showed that teen girls who manipulated their photos were more concerned with their body appearance, and those with dysmorphic body image frequently sought out social media as a means of validation.

Researchers say that 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. Additional research has shown that 55 percent of plastic surgeons now report seeing patients who want to improve their appearance in selfies.

According to the researchers, surgery is not the best course of action in these cases, because it will not improve, and may worsen underlying BDD. They recommend psychological interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy and management of the disorder in an empathetic and non-judgmental way.

Filtered selfies can make people lose touch with reality, creating the expectation that we are supposed to look perfectly primped all the time. This can be especially harmful for teens and those with BDD, and it is important for providers to understand the implications of social media on body image to better treat and counsel patients.




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