Doing Life Together

friends-409403_1280You take a selfie. Then you look at it and begin to edit– a new filter, better angle, crop here and there. Make your teeth look whiter, your lips bigger…OK now it is ready to publish.  No big deal except plastic surgeons are noting a new trend. Rather than bringing in Kendall Jenner’s picture and saying, “I want those lips,” people are bringing in their altered selfies and saying, “Make me look like that.” Social media has altered our looks thanks to the filters and edits.

When a person becomes obsessed with looking perfect on Snapchat, it could trigger body dysmorphic disorder.Body dysmorphic disorder is part of a spectrum of obsessive compulsive disorders in which a person believes that a part of their body is flawed. This creates an excessive preoccupation and distress and negativity in terms of self.

In some cases, selfie obsession could be a factor in developing body dysmorphic disorder. And the ability to edit and Photoshop yourself leaves an unattainable image of beauty. Imperfections can be erased. If you are dissatisfied with your body and want a smaller waist or a different size nose, enter the world of magical editing. Voila! You appear as an image of yourself.  And it is immediate.

Boston University’s Department of Dermatology recently published an article in  JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery on the topic of Snapchat dysmorphia-a condition they believe is triggering the psychiatric disorder body dysmorphic disorder  A wish for plastic surgery to correct this internal struggle is being made more and more. But of course, an external correction doesn’t correct an internal struggle. Approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy are needed, not plastic surgery.

At the 2017 annual American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstruction Surgery, plastic surgeons began to identify this trend of surgery requests to look more like selfies. Body dysmorphia or not, concepts of beauty are being heavily influenced by Snapchat and Facebook. The impact of repeated images of editing perfecting is taking a toll on body acceptance.  We want to look like our pictures and plastic surgery can help achieve that end.

Next time you Snap away, think of how you edit your photos. Are you preoccupied with how you appear and is this creating a dissatisfaction with who you are? There is a fine line between acceptance and obsession. For many people, it is going to take a lot of reassurance to help them be happy with who they are and accept their imperfections.

What are your thoughts about this?


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