The Impact That Social Media Can Have on Body Image

By Michael Saul, Partner at Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors

The impact of social media on body image has become increasingly significant, as users are exposed to various ways to present the “perfect” version of themselves through filters and editing tools on platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Snapchat. The constant exposure to altered appearances can lead to dissatisfaction with one’s own looks and may even encourage young people to pursue cosmetic surgery at an early age.

Here, Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors examines how young people are being persuaded to pursue cosmetic surgery at an early age by the proliferation of social media editing and offers suggestions for preventing this.

Image editing

Image editing features on social media platforms, such as filters that can modify physical traits like freckles, eyelashes, cheekbones, and nose size, contribute to the phenomenon of “Snapchat dysmorphia.” This growing trend has raised concerns among body image campaigners and cosmetic surgeons about the potential effects of easy access to photo and video editing on younger generations.

Social media’s influence on younger generations is evident in the rising demand for injectable face fillers, Botox, and other cosmetic procedures among younger patients. Celebrities openly disclosing their cosmetic surgeries can have negative consequences, as it may inspire young people to undergo similar procedures.

Studies have shown that the use of social media, the popularity of celebrity culture, and airbrushed images significantly contribute to the increasing number of people opting for cosmetic procedures. To counteract this trend, adopting a body-neutral approach can be a healthier alternative to constant body positivity.

How to adopt a more body neutral image

Ways to practice body neutrality include focusing on your body’s abilities and functions, spending less time getting ready, wearing comfortable clothes, avoiding negative conversations about body image, and being patient with yourself. To reduce the impact of social media on self-esteem, consider using your phone less or unfollowing influencers who make you feel insecure about your body. By actively pursuing body neutrality, you can shift your focus from appearance to activities that bring you joy and fulfilment.

Continuing to foster a healthy body image in the era of social media is crucial for mental well-being. It’s essential to remember that the images seen on social media platforms are often carefully curated, filtered, and edited to present the most appealing version of reality. Recognising this fact can help to mitigate the unrealistic expectations that social media may create about appearance and body image.

Another important step in maintaining a positive body image is to seek out and follow diverse and body-positive influencers, who promote acceptance and appreciation of all body types. Engaging with content that celebrates the uniqueness of each individual can serve as a reminder that beauty comes in many forms.

Cosmetic surgery should not be considered a go-to solution for those feeling insecure due to social media, as it may not address the root cause of these insecurities and can lead to further complications:

Illusion of perfection: Social media often presents a distorted and idealised version of reality, with images that have been heavily edited and filtered. Relying on cosmetic surgery to attain this unrealistic standard of beauty may result in disappointment, as it is nearly impossible to achieve the level of perfection seen online.

Psychological factors: Insecurities stemming from social media use are often rooted in deeper psychological issues, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression. Cosmetic surgery may provide temporary relief, but it will not resolve the underlying emotional challenges that need to be addressed through therapy or counselling.

Financial burden: Cosmetic surgery can be expensive, and it may not be a wise investment for those who are primarily motivated by social media pressures. Instead, focusing on self-improvement, personal growth, and self-acceptance can lead to longer-lasting satisfaction and confidence.

Health risks: All surgical procedures carry inherent risks, including complications, infections, and reactions to anaesthesia. Turning to cosmetic surgery in response to social media pressures may not be worth the potential health risks involved.

Cosmetic surgery should not be the primary solution for those feeling insecure due to social media. Addressing the root causes of these insecurities, focusing on personal growth, and seeking alternative ways to improve self-esteem are more sustainable and holistic approaches to overcoming the negative effects of social media on self-image.

Images courtesy of unsplash.com and pexels.com

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