In recent years there has been a growing issue regarding how people are beginning to see themselves due to the increased use of Instagram filters and seeing themselves on video calls.
The result of this increase in use, partially also caused by more people working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic and is called “Body Dysmorphic Disorder” and subsequently increased uptake in plastic surgery operations.
According to rush.edu 18.1 million cosmetic procedures were performed in the U.S. in 2019, up from 17.7 million procedures in 2018. This includes 16.3 million minimally invasive procedures (which saw an increase of 2% over 2018). Concern for our own image comes from seeing ourselves on screens more and more, thus multiplying trips to cosmetic surgery centres. This kind of body dysmorphia can also be referred to as ‘zoom dysmorphia’.
Due to video calls, the average age for both men and women to start cosmetic surgery is now 20 years old, where previously that age was 35. In addition to video calls, we have also seen the rise of the ‘influencer’, who is now responsible for setting the beauty canon and new trends. This means that people no longer have a real criterion about their own image; the trends online constantly change and are dependent on who is on the screen in front of you. Arguably, there has never been as much emphasis on the physical image as there is right now, and it is taking a negative toll on online users.
In terms of making moves to prevent this issue of dysmorphia from getting worse, The Ministry of Childhood and Equality in Uk, has approved a law that will oblige influencers and brands to include a label that indicates if the photographs have been retouched. This draws a very helpful distinction in the mind of the user between what is real and what is not, showing when something has been altered to fit an ‘ideal’ body type. Furthermore, the Norweigan government recently voted on a similar law by the Ministry of Children and Family Affairs meaning influencers and advertisers must declare when a photo had been retouched or altered.
In the UK currently, there has also been an increased crackdown on influencers who break these rules and do not mark their photographs as being retouched. ASA has recently told influencers that they can no longer use ‘misleading’ filters on beauty ads and will continue to monitor this across Instagram as well as social media as a whole. Ads that do not comply with these rules and other rules on retouched photos shall now be censored accordingly.
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