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People have been battling body image issues long before social media began, but studies have shown a concerning link between increased poor mental health in young people and their use of sites such as Instagram.
Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chair of the child and adolescent faculty at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said last year she was witnessing ‘more and more children self-harming and attempting suicide as a result of their social media use and online discussions.’
Meanwhile, a 2017 report conducted by the Royal Society for Public Health discovered nine in 10 teenage girls said they were unhappy with their body, while 70% of 18 to 24-year-olds said they would consider having a cosmetic surgical procedure.
Linking to these concerning figures, one of the key issues that needs to be tackled is the use of filters and other enhancements people use for photographs to make them appear more ‘attractive’. Whether that’s bigger lips and a bigger bum, or airbrushed skin and flat tummies, all these things are creating the illusion that certain traits are the new normal, making those that don’t possess them feel inadequate.
I myself have fallen victim to feeling this way, particularly come summer when influencers are seen boasting their toned, tanned bodies in on beaches all across Instagram.
But, what Instagram doesn’t show you is the millions of other people scrolling through social media feeling the same way – making you feel like everyone else is out there living their best slim, cellulite-less lives when really, they themselves often don’t even look like they do on Instagram.
So, in a bid to make social media platforms like Instagram more transparent and be more realistic, content creator Faye Dickinson made a split-screen filter that shows how someone really looks on one half with an edited version on the other, so people can see the difference between the two.
The first filter, named ‘Filter vs Reality’, has since been used on the social media platform millions of times, including by celebrities such as Jen Atkin, Jessie J and Jameela Jamil.
In light of its popularity, Faye has created another filter named ‘I am Enough’, which she hopes will help people realise you shouldn’t believe everything you see online.
Talking to UNILAD about why she decided to create the filter, Faye said:
The idea behind my split-screen filter, ‘Filter vs Reality’, was to create something unique to show people how these dramatic beauty filters rid selfies of skin textures, tones, scars, everything that makes you, and how it’s affecting our mental health.
Don’t let these filters fool you; you’re unique, beautiful, strong, powerful, loved and worthy without any filter.
Faye said she’s experienced poor mental health first hand a result of social media, and added the problem with a lot of filters is that ‘you see a side of yourself with dramatic filters that don’t exist, which corresponds to an unnatural and inhuman ideal of beauty that you can now achieve with filters.’
She continued, ‘It’s easy to feel insecure, seeing how so much of the content we consume daily is filtered and photoshopped, and everyone looks picture-perfect; it’s hard not to point out your flaws, but REAL is always beautiful.’
Discussing why she thinks it’s important to highlight the fact that many people don’t actually look as ‘perfect’ as they do in their social media photos, Faye added:
It’s frustrating when you’re having a bad body image day, and you take photos of yourself and can only focus on the supposedly bad photos and all the ‘flaws’ you see in them. It’s challenging to get out of a bad body image rut, especially when we compare our everyday bodies to posed and seemingly flawless photos on social media.
Everyone has ‘bad photos’ but we choose what not to share on social media to put out a good image of ourselves. It’s the unhealthy obsession we all have with that perfect look.
Faye now hopes the two filters she’s created will help Instagram-users accept themselves for who they are.
She concluded, ‘I think it’s time to break that habit of overthinking how we look in pictures because nobody is perfect, and we all should move towards the ‘powerful’ place of ‘self-acceptance.’
If you’re experiencing distressing thoughts and feelings, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is there to support you. They’re open from 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. Their national number is 0800 58 58 58 and they also have a webchat service if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone.
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