File this one away under “unintended consequences.” There’s a newly emerging trend in the medical community called “Snapchat Dysmorphia” that’s leaving plastic surgeons around the country to sound the alarm, and in some cases, scratch their heads in disbelief.
Recent research conducted at Boston University has discovered that the digital filters featured prominently in social media services like Snapchat are influencing how Millennials think about beauty. It’s causing significant numbers of them to investigate the possibility of getting plastic surgery in order to look more like the filtered pictures of themselves.
The newly minted term, ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’ is a variant of body dysmorphia, which is a mental health condition that causes people to be stressed and obsessed with the way they look. Previously, one of the leading causes of body dysmorphia has been the unrealistic standards of beauty portrayed in magazines and on televisions. These media portrayals include supermodels with perfect bodies setting a standard of perfection that few can ever hope to achieve.
The more recent trend, however, is an increasing percentage of young people wishing to look more like their filtered-image selves, with, as the report highlights, “fuller lips, bigger eyes, or a thinner nose.”
The researchers went onto say, “This is an alarming trend because those filtered selfies often present an unattainable look and are blurring the line of reality and fantasy for these patients…overall, social media apps, such as Snapchat and Facetune, are providing a new reality of beauty for today’s society. These apps allow one to alter his or her appearance in an instant and conform to an unrealistic and often unattainable standard of beauty.”
If you have a child who spends a significant amount of time on social media, then it’s something to keep a close eye on. Based on the data, this trend is only going to get stronger over time.