With more than 300 million-plus active monthly users, according to Omicore, it is clear that Snapchat is hugely popular social media platform. Of the people using the platform, some 65% regularly upload photos. It is this feature that is being blamed for a recent surge in plastic surgery requests, according to research from Boston University School of Medicine.
Per the study findings, there has been an increase in young people seeking the expertise of plastic surgeons. These teens, and young adults, are seeking the unnatural look achieved through photo apps utilized on Instagram and Snapchat that create a flawless appearance through manipulation. Surgeons call this nationwide trend among teens “Snapchat dysmorphia.”
A 2017 American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery study found around 55% of surgeons have consulted with patients who wanted to undergo expensive plastic surgeries for the purpose of making their selfies better. This result was up some 13% from the previous year, proving this is a growing problem.
One expert called this trend “remarkable” and troubling, warning that editing apps can blur the lines between the reality of how a person looks and a fantasy. An assistant professor of dermatology at the Boston University School of Medicine sounded off about the growing problem.
“Sometimes I have patients who say, ‘I want every single spot gone, and I want it gone by this week or I want it gone tomorrow,’ because that’s what this filtered photograph gave them. They check off one thing, and it’s gone,” the researcher said. “That’s not realistic. I can make people a lot better, but it will take me a lot more than a week, and it won’t be 100 percent.”
In past years, teens might have admired celebrities and desired their looks. For today’s teens, though, it’s more about wanting to be a flawless or fake version of themselves. This desire for unattainable perfection can lead to a dangerous mindset called being “beauty sick” according to Renee Engeln, who is a psychology professor at Northwestern University.
“When you are beauty sick, you cannot engage with the world, because between you and the world is a mirror,” Engeln explained. “It’s a mirror that travels with you everywhere. You can’t seem to put it down.”
The beauty sickness, or Snapchat Dysmorphia, is a type of body dysmorphic disorder. According to Mayo Clinic, body dysmorphia is defined as “a mental disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance. When you have body dysmorphic disorder, you intensely obsess over your appearance and body image, repeatedly checking the mirror or seeking reassurance. Your perceived flaw and the repetitive behaviors cause you significant distress and impact your ability to function in your daily life.”
“With the introduction of social platforms and filters over the last five years, more and more patients come into clinics with filtered versions of themselves as the goal they want to achieve,” cosmetic expert Dr. Esho added.
There are have been numerous studies proving the fact that social media can cause more problems than benefits when it comes to young, developing minds. This latest discovery is just another reason to keep kids off such platforms, or at the very least monitor their interactions while they use them.
The take away from this current problem is for parents of teens to be aware that the problem exists. Help teens to see the beauty in their imperfect appearance. Be aware of signs that show they are struggling with dysmorphia. Be aware that it can easily happen to them as they don’t have the maturity to understand the dangers of their way of thinking. Therefore, it’s up to parents, grandparents and other adults to ensure their self perception remains healthy.
~ 1776 Christian