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Is Snapchat dysmorphia on a rise?

Wednesday, 2 January 2019


Rates of depression and anxiety amongst young people have risen by 70 percent in the past 25 years. Figures show that more people are undertaking cosmetic surgery in order to look more like their filtered Snapchat selves.  

There are around 186 million daily users on Snapchat, making it one of the most popular apps worldwide. The social media app created in 2011 gained vast popularity by 2013 with around 10 million active users with help from its introduction of stories. By 2015 the app reached even greater heights through its launch of lenses, better known as Snapchat filters. This saw the app rocket to around 100 million daily users accompanied with an overall total of 4 billion daily views.  

Users see this as a success, since Snapchat lenses are “improving” people selfies. However, a new study by JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery has found that this has been a catalyst for negative body image. The study shows that in order to get the perfect face, people bring photos of their filtered selfies to consultations, seeking out treatments for facial treatments, rhinoplasty and face-lifts.


Research from the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons (AAFPRS) shows that in 2017, around 55 percent of facial plastic surgeons examined patients who wanted surgery to help them look better in selfies. This sees an increase of 25 percent from 2012 to 2017, which more than half of those, AAFPRS members saw a rise in cosmetic surgery and or injectables with patients under the age of 30. 

For many young people Snapchat has become increasingly addictive and has become a normal part of their daily lives. Morning Consult conducted a study of 2201 US adults and found that 47% of young people aged 18-29 open Snapchat at least once a day.


 

As a result, the app is characterized as one causation for triggering body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) or more specifically - Snapchat dysmorphia, a term coined by cosmetic doctor, Dr Tijion EshoAlthough Snapchat dysmorphia is not a recognized condition, it’s a trend that sees regular body dysmorphia heightened by social media 

According to the National Health Service (NHS) BDD is a mental health conditions where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance which is often unnoticeable to others.  

A 2015 report by the Office of National Statistics found that 27 percent of teens who actively used social media for more than 3 hours per day were more likely to have symptoms of mental health issues. Adding to this, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that Snapchat ranked as the second most negative app for the mental health of young people. 

To look at this from a psychological point of view, psychologist Andreas Kappes says that “there is a relation between dissatisfaction with adolescents', but it is harder to say if social media causes body image problems. Since one can easily imagine that people who are insecure about the body seek out more peer evaluations than people who are less concerned about their image”. 


Stats by International Study on Aesthetic/Cosmetic Procedure show that in 2017 total face and body procedures increased by one percent. In addition, the countries that ranked highest for total face and head procedures saw Brazil crowned at number one with a worldwide total of 12.2 percent and Italy at number five with three percent.




  


Yet, when counting the total amount of injectables used by each country, the USA came first with a world-wide total of 22.2 percent. Whereas Germany came fifth with a worldwide total of around 4.2 percent. 

With surgery on the rise, Andreas Kappes admits that each person has a right to do what they want to their body, however it would be "unethical" for surgeons to "treat peoples suffering from BDD".