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Wait A Sec, The Beauty Filter is Not On yet

By Cherry Wu

CW: This article discusses topics of mental illness and suicide which could be distressing to some readers.

Taking a selfie is very common today, you may take selfies when you see a beautiful landscape during travelling or eating delicious food. Usually people will then choose two or three of them, edit and retouch them, rack their brains to come up with catchy content...then after a long period of preparation, they can finally hit publish button to post a picture on the social media.

The effort is clearly worth it, and who can resist looking better? And, if people likely to get many likes through Instagram, they will even be happier all day.

Not only are you posting selfies of yourself, but people are seeing countless selfies every day.

But if we are blinded by the "perfect" selfie and over-invested in it, we will become more and more "disgusted" with our real bodies and think, "Eh, why do I look worse and worse?”

The more you retouch your selfies, the worse you feel about your body

Body image is an individual's perceptions, thoughts, beliefs and feelings about their own body, such as how you feel about your body, whether you are liked for your appearance, etc.

Body image is a very subjective and emotional perception. Unhealthy body image often leads to eating disorders, low self-esteem, etc. Just like many girls who feel they need to lose weight even though they are objectively thin, this is the effect of negative body image.

The more one desperately tries to choose the best angle for a selfie, and the more one retouches one's photo, the more one recognises the gap between one's real self and one's ideal self. A subtle, subliminal process that leads to dissatisfaction with one's true self.

So, would it be better to get some likes and positive comments on your own selfies? Most studies conclude that it is not.

Just like when you retouch the pimple out of a selfie and receive a particularly large number of compliments, you are likely to think: "Ah, it's because you retouch the pimple out that you get the compliment", which will lead you to care more about your pimple.

When others give you positive comments on your selfies, you instead intensify your body surveillance behaviour, that is, the constant monitoring of your body and the constant worry about how your body looks to others.

This kind of scrutiny and monitoring of your body is in fact a manifestation of self-objectification.

Does that mean we should not take selfies?

Of course not. The selfie itself is a great way to document your life and a great way for everyone to express themselves.

The important thing is not to over-retouch your selfies. When we see a great view, or feel like we had a perfect day, of course we should take a selfie. Our best self is to present the most realistic and natural version of yourself.

Even if you can't go completely un-retouched, you can at least 'minus' a little when it comes to retouching. We need to understand that looking natural and generous will not annoy others. Loving yourself as you are will bring more energy and joy into your life.


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