Plastic surgeons are becoming increasingly concerned by teenagers who are seeking to achieve a “perfect” face, much like the one they can attain through airbrushed Snapchat filters.
Surgeons have said that “Snapchat dysmorphia” is becoming a nationwide issue amongs teens, according to new research from the Boston University School of Medicine. Researchers found that an increasing number of young people are asking cosmetic surgeons to make them look more like the artificially manufactured images they can create through apps like Snapchat and Instagram.
In a 2017 survey, The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery found that 55 percent of surgeons reported consulting with patients who desired to undergo expensive surgeries in order to achieve better selfie results. This was a 13 percent increase from the previous year, according to the Indepedent.
One expert called the bizarre phenomenon “remarkable” and warned that the effect of such photo editing apps can blur the lines between image fantasy and the stark reality of one’s dermatological flaws.
“Sometimes I have patients who say, ‘I want every single spot gone, and I want it gone by this week or I want it gone tomorrow,’ because that’s what this filtered photograph gave them,” said Neelam Vashi, an assistant professor of dermatology at the Boston University School of Medicine. “They check off one thing, and it’s gone. That’s not realistic. I can’t do that. I can make people a lot better, but it will take me a lot more time than a week, and it won’t be 100 percent.”
But instead of young people comparing themselves to their pop star idol or Hollywood pinup, our culture has become so self-obsessed that teenagers are actually aspiring to be a fake version of themselves.
Northwestern University psychology professor Renee Engeln, speaking in a 2013 Ted Talk, said that such a mindset can cause young people to become “beauty sick.”
“When you are beauty sick, you cannot engage with the world,” she said, “because between you and the world is a mirror. It’s a mirror that travels with you everywhere. You can’t seem to put it down.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, Body Dysmorphia can be described as “a mental disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance.” While the flaw, to others, may be either “minor or not observable,” you may feel “so ashamed and anxious that you may avoid many social situations” as a result of the condition.
“When you have body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely obsess over your appearance and body image, repeatedly checking the mirror, grooming or seeking reassurance, sometimes for many hours each day. Your perceived flaw and the repetitive behaviors cause you significant distress, and impact your ability to function in your daily life.”
“With the introduction of social platforms and filters over the last five years, more and more patients come into clinics with filtered versions of themselves as the goal they want to achieve,” Dr. Esho, a cosmetic doctor at The Esho Clinic, told the Independent.
An anonymous patient of Dr. Escho’s told the British newspaper, “I never was happy with taking photos but using filters made me feel like I looked good.”
“The Snapchat camera shows you what you see in the mirror but adds a filter on your face and you can change everything,” the patient said. “Your face can become thinner, your lips get bigger and your eyes and lashes can get bigger. It’s great.”