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Dysmorphia: A Blurred line, what's real and what not?

CW: Mentions of Mental Illnesses (Dysmorphia) and OCD

By Zahra Shabir

Social media is becoming the new reality in today's day and age with billions online each single day however it doesn’t come without its dark side, it has caused a disconnect with a large amount of younger audiences when it comes to one aspect, the idea of beauty and sense of self.

Celebrities, beauty experts and influencers dominate many social media platforms with the main spotlight being their flawless looks, wardrobe and glamorous lifestyle that makes most green with envy and aspire for the same seemingly perfect look.

The main victims being teens who easily fall into the negative cycle of constantly comparing themselves to others . As these apps and trends grew in popularity, so did the user base and the amount of people who suffered with Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

Body Dysmorphia

''A new phenomenon called Snapchat dysmorphia has popped up[…] where patients are seeking out surgery to help them appear like the filtered versions of themselves''.

- Dr Neelam Vashi

Easily impressionable, many young people have been hooked into unrealistic standards of beauty of poreless, porcelain skin, fuller lips and larger than life eyes made possible by virtual filters and other easy tools, Snapchat and Instagram, I’m looking at you!

Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental condition where the sufferer constantly worries and obsesses over how a specific part of their body looks like on a daily basis, taking over their lives like a black hole with professionals urging treatment like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and in other cases anti-depressants. Those with the disorder often go under the knife in look exactly like their picture perfect selves. The condition has been linked to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety, Depression and even suicidal thoughts and tendencies.

The term was coined by British physician and cosmetic doctor Tijion Esho back in 2018 while researchers and doctors previously called it ''beauty sickness''. Thanks to the use of filters, and even some apps for a small premium price (Facetune comes to mind) users get to access something close to the standards of Photoshop, something that was never thought before the advent of selfie platforms in the eyes of the public excluding celebrities, models and even famous artists.

Triggers for BDD are hard to tell but most psychologists think chances increase with many factors include genetics and neurological issues for example low serotonin (The happy hormone) production compared to the average person.

The Shocking Truth

Statistics show that 1 in 50 Americans suffer from the disorder and Social Media Dysmorphia is no different to be honest, only instead of mirrors and hordes of celebrity magazines, it's all online and everyone 24/7. Social Media is ever growing followed by a warped twisted sense of body image and standards of physical attractiveness that shifts dramatically once posts become extremely popular, leading to internalised negativity and extremely low self-esteem over ones self-image that triggers dysmorphia.

Be Kind to your Mind

If you believe you are suffering from Snapchat Dysmorphia or if you find in your social media habits, it's a good idea to take a short break to change your perspective or if that's too much to handle, it's time to set some boundaries like a limit on how long you spend on social media for example from a few hours, it's much better to cut it down to 30 minutes a day instead.

Let's say that doesn't work out too well, maybe it's time to examine the social circle you surround yourself with especially friends that take and edit selfies on a regular basis, you most likely feel a need to keep up with them by posting you're own edited selfies making it too tough to resist but one thing to keep in mind, most of these are just as filtered as yours, it's harder to make a comparison when you don't what they actually look like in reality?

Another tip is to stop comparing yourself to others, especially on most social media platforms, no one is perfect and that's what makes us so unique, trimming down the list of people you engage with and focus on those that share anything apart from filtered selfies could help ease the compulsion to filter images of yourself.


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