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Filters and The Art of Illusion

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While it is not new to look into the mirror and observe our flaws, it is relatively new to see ourselves without them through the power of social media and filters. Here is a page out of the book to master the art of illusion –

Lower the angle, taller you look.
Higher the angle, slimmer you appear.
Brighter the light, lesser the marks,
Smarter the editor, better the Gram.

We have had public awareness over societal beauty norms for quite some time now. While we succeeded in converting ‘Fair and Lovely’ to ‘Glow and Lovely’, it hasn’t changed the product itself nor the desire to buy it. The illusion of social media is not unspoken of. The intensity, however, lies unexplored for most.

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People seemed to have accepted themselves for who they are, and they do not want to look like celebrities anymore. They love to be their own unique self, albeit better. Where it is healthy to want to be better versions of our own self, wanting to groom and prep oneself up, it is totally unacceptable to be ashamed of being your regular self. When we first started with filters, they were unnatural and obvious. However, social media’s evolution brought more natural and subtle effects. At times, we don’t even notice our dependence on filters unless shot otherwise.

Everyone wants to look good; not at the cost of insecurities and self-doubt. More often than not these “subtle” filters accentuate our facial features, according to the long-lasting beauty “taboos”. They would lighten our skin, minimize our noses and plump up our lips. What is wrong with these filters is that without even realizing we are promoting unhealthy beauty images for everyone out there. A common feature throughout these trends is promoting colorism, with skin lightening effects.

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And as we have always heard, thoughts turn into action. Plastic and cosmetic surgeries are not that common in India. But in countries such as the U.S.A. and South Korea where these surgeries are accepted and even encouraged, teenagers are surgically changing their features to follow Snapchat filters. Disappointed but not surprised, eh?  Dare I put across some statistics?

Some Statistics

According to 2017 data from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS), 55 per cent of fascial plastic surgeons say patients have requested cosmetic procedures to look better on social media — an increase of 13 per cent from the year before.

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paper published in August 2018 in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery noted that airbrushing used to be just for red carpet looks. People saw how perfect they looked on the covers of magazines but knew it took a village to get them there. That certainly made its own impact on society’s standards of beauty, but things have taken a different turn today. Filters, lighting, and other social media tricks have introduced this drive for perfection to the masses. “A quick share on Instagram, and the likes and comments start rolling in. These filters and edits have become the norm, altering people’s perception of beauty worldwide,” the authors write.

Unspoken consequences : BDD 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental health disorder. Patients of BDD tend to be obsessive over minor or non-existent flaws in their appearance, picking their skin, or grooming themselves. Some people living with BDD have a history of unnecessary or repeated cosmetic surgeries; the disorder has been associated with Trusted Source obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depression, and suicidal tendencies.

The pervasiveness of filters on social media is a catalyst for BDD patients. It can take a toll on their self-esteem and soon enough might make them feel inadequate for the actual world. Snapchat Dysmorphic patients want to look like their own filtered versions, this triggers BDD as well.

Why? You’ve never looked better – Your skin is like marble, your nose looks small, your lips look plump, and you’re doe-eyed. You’re ready to hit “post” for the world to see. Cue the likes.

The problem is: Is this really you?

While some may still be unfazed by them, many face grave consequences. The impact is definitely not known of and here we are in the oblivion of self-esteem issues.

Read more

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