Snapchat and Instagram filters are changing the way young people look at themselves.
A new phenomenon of using filtered selfies as a guide for plastic surgeons is on the rise, and has been coined “Snapchat Dysmorphia” by Dr. Matthew Schulman, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City.
The filters – an effect that can transform the users facial features, typically by smoothing skin and enlarging eyes and lips – have been accused of making people forget what they truly look like.
“There’s an issue with losing perspective on what you actually look like, and it’s not something we talk about much,” Renee Engeln, professor of psychology at Northwestern University, and author of Beauty Sick: How the Cultural Obsession with Appearance Hurts Girls and Women, said to the Huffington Post.
“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 your falling short every day,” Engeln added.
“We’re at a new level when we actually lose touch with our own face or look surprised when we look in the mirror,” she said.
So more are turning to plastic surgery to make that Snapchat filter face a permanent look.
“Everybody basically is using a filter on their own and they’re either taking that next step to bring it to me saying, ‘Hey, this is what I want to look like,’ Schulman said to the Post.
Though Engeln points out, seeking smooth and blemish-free skin isn’t a new concept from the social media age.
“They’re not changing the content of our beauty standards,” she said to the Post. “They’re just making images of it more widely available.”
Dr. Michelle Yagoda, a facial plastic surgeon in New York City, told the Post that constantly seeing altered selfies could have serious negative effects on people’s self-esteem, but doesn’t think that many will be affected by the syndrome.
“I think any time you’re able to shade out imperfections and make a better picture of yourself, it affects the way we see each other and the way we see ourselves,” she said. “I think this is a real problem, but I doubt that it’s going to be significantly affecting more people than regular body dysmorphic disorder does.”
Currently body dysmorphia disorder affects 1.7 to 2.4 percent of the population.