Social media has changed the way we communicate, and made it easier than ever before to share with people close to us, or on the other side of the world. As visual-based social networks have taken over, we’re spending more and more time staring at pictures of perfect homes, perfect meals, perfect holidays and perfect faces. The popularity of image editing apps such as Face Tune and that one Snapchat filter everyone loves reveals that many people who use the platforms are more than a little bit concerned about how they appear online.
What is worrying is that our online insecurities are spilling over into surgical intervention. According to the BAAPS (The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons), a growing number of patients are going under the knife in order to appear a certain way on their friend’s timelines. It isn’t difficult to see why young people feel the pressure to enhance their looks with cosmetic procedures when the likes of the Kardashians and other starlets make complex procedures look as minimal as an eyebrow shape.
When young people see the transformation Kylie Jenner underwent between her younger teenage years and today, you can see why young people feel under pressure to look a certain way. A young impressionable girl with thin lips might assume that lip fillers are essential to achieve the perfect pout – after all, there are pictures of Kylie Jenner purporting the same thing all over Instagram.
A recent study in TIME magazine revealed that scrolling through our social media feeds leads to feelings of inadequacy, envy and loneliness. Whereas perfect people may have once only been visible on TV and in magazines, we are now inundated with images of perfect people on every screen.
It isn’t only young people who feel the pressure to look a certain way thanks to advances in technology. When video calling took off in 2012, cosmetic surgeons reported an increase in demand for chin surgery as a result of the unflattering angle cast by many video calling programmes. One surgeon even adjust his approach to the traditional facelift – dubbing it the Facetime Facelift – to ensure the scars weren’t visible when video calling.
While improving your looks to appear a certain way on social media isn’t the crime of the century, what is worrying is that cowboy cosmetic surgeons have now been given access to a market of patients willing to hand over insubordinate amounts of cash in order to achieve the perfect look.
Research has shown that breast surgery claims are on the rise, and not only because of factors such as the PIP scandal. Social media is not only inspiring us to go under the knife, but it is also leading us to have unrealistic expectations of the results, which in turn leads to cosmetic surgery claims. Social media may bring us together, but there is a darker side to this phenomenon that can make us feel isolated and seriously damage our self-esteem.