The virtual space is teeming with possibilities, and the rise of photo beauty filters have only added to that. Having gained worldwide recognition due to their swift and easy transformation of plain snapshots into artsy, magazine-model-level portraits, these beauty filters have become commonplace for people to use. While they may provide an attractive option at first, as it turns out, creating the perfect online image comes at a cost - often one that can cause physical and mental damage.
Studies by the American Association of Dermatology suggest that these beauty filters can be damaging to an individual’s self-image. With most social media platforms providing heavy editing options, users are often driven to believe that those idealized images, free of imperfections and wrinkles, are what society, and especially potential partners, finds alluring. This false impression can lead to low self-esteem, which can manifest in various ways and exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
Apart from the physical beautification, as another factor in distorting people’s self-views, social media has created a false reality of “perfect” lives, one-upping whatever personal struggles someone might be experiencing. Led to believe that everyone around them is successful, happy, and has a thriving social life, individuals will naturally contrast themselves against their peers, which inevitably leads to feelings of unworthiness and discontentment. When the perfect image is an unachievable goal, it can be emotionally draining, leading to further mental health issues such as body dysmorphia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Though beauty filters were invented with the intention of bringing joy to people’s lives, they can also enable nefarious behavior. Cyberbullying is becoming a ubiquitous problem among Gen Zers and millennials, as strangers or even friends make fun of someone’s actual appearance by comparing it to the filtered version. With a few clicks of the mouse, a person’s self-esteem can plummet to a dangerous level, leaving them feeling worthless and suicidal.
Still, given enough awareness and recommendations, some steps can be taken to avoid falling into the holed well of bad self-esteem. Being conscious of the time spent on social media and using beauty filters sparingly can help. One should also practice gratitude and appreciation of what one does have, instead of focusing on what’s lacking. it would be beneficial for an individual to promote positive conversations with their peers, instead of engaging in comparison, as well as to actively support charities that fight against cyberbullying and foster self-compassion.
Beauty filters can indeed be dangerous to use, and they are gradually making it harder to remember that beauty lies within rather than being defined by outer appearances; after all, true beauty is ageless and unbound. Until then, taking action and making an effort to understand the related moral dilemmas are more than necessary to secure a safe emotional space for everyone existing in the digital world.