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Social scientists are finding users are not just editing settings on social media. Users, especially women, are editing their bodies and faces. And this practice has led to a new standard of beauty.
Problematically, social scientists say this standard of beauty is nearly impossible to obtain. Some people have turned to cosmetic surgery to get the results they want. Others are grappling with anxiety or eating disorders. Researchers say it’s a growing issue impacting young people worldwide.
"Slim thick" is the new body ideal.
Celebrities Kim Kardashian and Nikki Minaj represent this standard — slender face and arms, large breasts, flat stomach, ample hips and a "beach-ball" butt.
Only a small percentage of women’s bodies are going to be able to achieve this with the targeted workouts. In the absence of being able to achieve this, women all over the world are getting plastic surgery.
Social media now provides users with a steady stream of images that are edited to fit with the new slim thick ideal. We’re constantly staring at our phones and looking at these images and it creates a normalizing effect. It’s constant comparison, mostly of the bad kind.
There are multiple types of comparison. Upward comparison occurs when a person looks at images of a person they perceive as being better than themselves. Not surprisingly, studies have found that engaging in upward comparison has a negative impact on a person’s well-being.
Another type of comparison occurs when the social media user compares their online, edited self to their real-life body. Online editing software has evolved beyond removing red-eye or whitening teeth. Users can now make their bodies look thinner, plump lips, or remove acne.
The editing tools are limitless and allow you to morph your features in any way you want.
Social media has changed both expectations for the ideal body type and which facial features are now considered ideal. This new ideal includes slanted, cat-like eyes, slender noses, high cheekbones and full lips.
The face we show online is the pulling of features for the exoticization of beauty.
Social media users can use editing tools to achieve the look in pictures. The person might be satisfied with the photo, but that sense of self-contentedness doesn’t continue when they look in the mirror.
Studies are seeing a connection between the editing tools and plastic surgery, a trend practitioners call “Snapchat dysmorphia.”
One study of plastic surgery patients found social media users who edit their photos were more likely to seek cosmetic enhancement.
Similarly, in a 2020 study in Aesthetic Surgery Journal, one-third of surveyed cosmetic enhancement patients said they used editing tools. Half of the respondents said social media influenced their decision to seek cosmetic surgery or fillers.
Beauty standards have always been set out of reach of the average person.
The problem is that editing software now gives people a new vision of themselves at a time when beauty standards have morphed into an impossible idea.
Tourist information centre manager
An Image Is Never Real.
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