SNAPCHAT DYSMORPHIA AND THE REAL DANGERS OF PERCEIVED FLAWS
n. A fixation on perceived flaws in one’s appearance, caused by seeing too many filtered photos.
People used to show up in plastic surgeons’ offices with photos of movie stars, asking for Angelina’s lips or Jon Hamm’s chin. Today they come with selfies, asking to look like themselves. Not the human selves that mock us all in fitting-room mirrors, of course, but the sparkling, digitally embellished versions that increasingly populate our social feeds.
On platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, users now routinely deploy filters and tools like Facetune for selfie-improvement, fashioning reflections that better capture their true inner beauty. Swipe away acne or wrinkles. Swipe again for big soulful eyes, a thinner nose. You can even change the shape of your face.
Such fixes used to be just for glamour shots of celebrities. But nowadays, with flawless skin and symmetrical faces all over social media, the “beautiful people” are our peers. It’s enough to give you a complex. In fact, doctors have begun to speak of “Snapchat dysmorphia,” an obsession with normal imperfections that, for teens especially, can cause real harm. And it’s driving many to seek surgery, in hopes of editing their faces IRL like they do on their phones.
Snap Inc. can’t be thrilled to have its name on a new mental disorder (a brand hijacking almost as bad as the one Hormel suffered with spam). It’s response: Lighten up, filters are just a fun tool for personal expression. Yep, all good fun—until your kid comes home from the surgeon with permanent deer face.