Are Instagram Filters Causing Body Dysmorphia?

Social media and body image are a complicated marriage.


You can’t deny it. We’ve all come to a point where we’ve opened up our phones, landed straight onto Instagram and used one of those crazy filters. From fun sorting hat wizardry, quiz games, and silly faces, to the extremes of eye stretching, lip enhancing, teeth whitening, face shaping filters. It’s all a bit of harmless fun, right? The question is are these filters, depicting cosmetic surgery, fuelling detrimental issues of body dysmorphia?

Social media and body image are a complicated marriage. Unattainable beauty standards are on a high due to the use of facetune, and face augmented reality where waists are ‘snatched’, jawlines sharper, and lips bigger. The question is, have you ever wanted a complete surgical makeover? Well, Instagram has done a solid job at achieving that look for you. With so many varieties to choose from whether it’s a harmless skin smoothing enhancement or the full package, these innocent yet ‘dangerous’ filters are advocating the need for improvement to the impressionable users of Instagram. 



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In a world where the use of augmented reality (AR) filters is so normal, it never felt rawer to feel imperfect, and if our wildest desires can be achieved through just the touch of a button it’s no wonder why we turn to it. However, links between these filters and health issues have emerged. In a published paper called "Real Me versus Social Media Me: Filters, Snapchat Dysmorphia and Beauty Perceptions Among Young Women". Janella Eshiet, a professor of communication studies, states; "Filters on Instagram are fuelling body dysmorphia among young women because many of these filters are now changing how women view themselves." No longer do we merely compare ourselves to others but to altered, perfected images of ourselves with women thinking they must be perfect just like the filters they use.

Although efforts have been made by Instagram to ban filters depicting cosmetic surgery, you can still access them amid the concerns that they harm people’s mental health. In August 2019, an update to the app allowed users to create their own virtual effects and custom face filters which openly allows the freedom to create any filter you fancy. 

Filtering our face can have its ups and downs. Like a ‘pick me up’, you can rely on a filter to improve the way you look. For instance, you may have an annoying zit you want to cover up so decide to opt for a smoothing effect. But, some might notice that their appearance has drastically changed and begin to think about the ‘what if’s’ - dreaming for a change in eye colour or facial structure. So are these filters creating a fresh problem that might not have been there in the first place?


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