• Sophia-Joelle Oswald

Editing Photos Can Lead to Poor Body Image

The majority of us have not lived a day without being surrounded by beautiful people in magazines, music videos, or on TV. Before the development of photo editing applications, those in front of the camera were retouched with the use of lighting, exposure, poses, and angles. Women were encouraged to alter their appearance by wearing makeup and corsets. As years went on retouching software like photoshop was invented and well-known people were made to fit a particular mold of perfection even further. Holding a magazine in your hand with a touched-up picture, it is impossible to pick out exactly what has been changed or know what they would look like without editing.

It is no longer only famous people that retouch their images. We now have the tools necessary to alter photos in the palm of our hand. With just a few clicks on a smartphone, we can feed the unrealistic expectations of beauty we have for ourselves. There is no training needed to edit images anymore. There are specific apps for fixing nearly every part of the human anatomy that will walk you through the process step by step. You can look like an entirely different person just as quickly as you can snap the original photo. Some apps were designed to slim the body, elongate legs, or whiten teeth. The list goes on and on. Even just using a filter on one of your favorite social media platforms can change your entire face to the point where you’re unrecognizable.

The people we see online appear to have no imperfections. Where are the acne and cellulite? Other than a few accounts dedicated to celebrating their curves and natural features, most people post edited photos. It’s no surprise that a large number of people struggle with social media dysmorphia, body dysmorphia, and disordered eating. Being surrounded by edited images that instill impossible standards is one of the leading causes of depression. Social media can magnify negative feelings, especially when it comes to young people. The damage that is done with every drastically edited photo is generally understood but tends to be ignored instead of discussed.

The standard of beauty that we are forced to compare ourselves to is unattainable. What is truly sad is the number of young women who have sought plastic surgery to look more like the images they see online and post of themselves. The number of people seeking cosmetic surgery increases each year. Some seek less invasive procedures such as Botox and lip fillers but fewer people would do so without these pressures to look a certain way. No matter how many procedures one seeks to improve their appearance, it will never be enough to fit in online. Just as we are constantly changing, so are the standards placed on us.

Until social media sees it necessary to alert people when a photo has been retouched, all we can really do is unfollow accounts that make us feel insecure and spend less time on social media overall. Editing photos and using filters can be enjoyable. If you choose to use filters and edit blemishes out because it makes you feel better, do it, but don’t let this habit control your worth. Many unedited photos get just as many likes and shares as ones that are drastically changed. You don’t need to appear perfect to be accepted. There are plenty of people ready and willing to accept you as you naturally are.

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