Altering facial features is more effective than gathering likes
BY DANIELA GITTO
Whoever claimed to be content with the first and only selfie they took either lied or is Kim Kardashian. Whether it be phenomenal lighting or the perfect amount of contour, it can take a minimum of 20 photos in 10 different angles to find a worthy pick.
The art of the selfie is not easy to master.
Putting on a little extra makeup can never hurt when trying to conquer the perfect selfie, but what about altering one’s body to look thinner, or doing a little airbrushing to the face to hide any flaws.
These easy-to-use apps have created a platform for people with low self-esteem to feel more comfortable taking selfies, but at what cost?
“I think at the end of the day, self-confidence was an issue before these apps and its not the apps that are causing the problem, its finding our self-love,” says 25-year-old Shane Harper, owner of Volition Martial Arts and Fitness. “We aren’t being taught to love ourselves, we are taught to love ourselves based off what social media thinks and how many likes we get.”
Harper has been in the fitness industry for almost five years. He is of the opinion a person’s ideal body image comes from investing hard work and sweat.
There is a breed of apps giving users technological surgeries for the ‘too good to be true look.’ These apps can whiten teeth, alter body parts, remove pimples and wrinkles, cover bald spots with hair and much more.
According to research done by the Dove Self-esteem Project, over 1 million girls from the UK said they don’t feel confident with their bodies and two-thirds admitted to feeling more attractive online rather than in person. The same study concluded that woman spend an hour and 24 minutes preparing for a selfie weekly.
“Its competitive, so if you get all these people putting up selfies that look really good from using these apps then it forces the average individual that was content about their looks to question themselves according to society,” says psychologist and psychology professor, Suzanne Brown.
Brown has a PhD is psychology and also owns a private practice where she counsel’s individuals of all different ages, ranging from adolescents to seniors. She also currently teaches branches of psychology courses at Guelph-Humber and York University.
It is no surprise that social media can hurt confidence levels from that undeniable fear of judgment everyone suffers from. Users rely on “likes” as reassurance. The more likes, the better the photo, the less likes, the worse photo. It’s comparable to a ranking system.
A 2016 study done by Penn State University concluded that users who are active viewers of photos and other content on social media have lower self-esteem levels. They call this the “upward social comparison theory,” which explains that when users observe their peers’ photos, they become unsatisfied with their lives because they may feel they do not measure up.
Millennials sit in the midst of all this. They’ve grown up in an age surrounded by celebrities heightening the standard of beauty through flawless Instagram selfies that are likely edited to attract followers.
Brown says that millennials are much more self-aware and absorbed than past generations. They’re also known to be the most active users of social media. In a 2015 global study done by SmartSight, people ages 16-24 are 37 per cent of Instagram users and 25 per cent of Facebook users.
“I was definitely less confident before using these apps -and- it used to always hurt looking through the roll of selfies I took to find at least one decent one,” says Melissa Smith*, a 23-year-old server from. “Now I am able to take a few and see which one looks best with the effects.”
Smith has battled with self-esteem issues since the start of puberty at the age of 12. During the confusing time, her insecurities stemmed from the competitive nature with appearances during her high school experience. Since then, her confidence brought many obstacles into her love life: meaning self-love and love for others. She now heavily relies on beauty apps to make her virtual self more appealing.
These apps have been around for some time, but the development has made it more accessible and easy-to-use, so much so that children can use it.
“People do hide behind these apps, but they can’t live through it, meaning at the end of the day when they have to meet people out of social media they get hit with reality,” says Harper. “You can alter your face and body all you want, but at the end of the day you have to leave your house and see real people.”
Smith knows all too well about this experience.
“There’s been times when I didn’t go on a date with guys I met through Facebook or Instagram because I was scared they would think I’m not as pretty in person,” she says.
Like anything, there is a positive and a negative side to these apps. Some young adults, like Smith, have become reliant on the abundance of photo editing tools at their fingertips.
“I’ve been using FaceTune for almost a year now, and every selfie I take has to get edited in there first,” she says. “My friends send me their pictures to edit a lot too because they don’t want to pay $5.50 for the app.”
But, for others, Harper says the apps can also be used as a tool to get people to work harder at personal health goals.
“I can see those applications being beneficial for trainers and health professionals because maybe they can get a client in and show them what they can look like should they continue to workout and eat healthy,” Harper says. “So, on a positive note it can be used for motivation because a lot of people cannot picture themselves looking different than they do now.”
Brown agrees: “It can be positive to get people more motivated and set different goals.”
On a professional level its fine for followers, projects, and promotion, she says, but if its use has become daily and it is difficult to put a natural picture up because its not “good enough,” there is a problem.
Brown says that from a psychological standpoint, there are many different variable and factors for why a person may be struggling with this.
“If you are looking at an individual that is a high achiever or perfectionist, they are always going to try to measure up,” she explains. “They are never satisfied, even if they do feel like they are measuring up to that particular goal, the bar’s only going to rise even higher. It’s almost an addictive and very much obsessive compulsive behaviour that can come from the social media apps.”
The biggest issue at hand is awareness and control, she says. Instead of scrolling through the abyss of faces that may leave someone examining their reflection, they should try putting the phone down more often and work towards being proud of each and every inch of their skin. “There is a deeper-rooted problem,” Brown adds, “that can easily be improved just by monitoring social media use.”