Comparing yourself to others is rarely a good idea. You are setting yourself up for frustration every time. No matter what your assets, there will be someone smarter, richer, more attractive, more talented...and the list goes on. Most adults know this, of course, but adolescents are falling victim to peer pressure in the age of digital images and how they appear to others.
Not only are young people compulsively posting photos of themselves on Facebook, SnapChat, Twitter and Instagram, they are using apps - "filters" to remove flaws, improve skin tone and even change body dimensions and shape.
Manipulating images on social media has become an obsession for millions of young people and mental health professionals are concerned. What amounts to a false image that they can't live up to could create anxiety and depression that will result in serious damage to the psyches of kids who rely on digitally altered "selfies" to present themselves to the world.
In England, "Rising levels of "body dissatisfaction" – insecurity and low self-esteem about their appearance – have been identified as driving the unprecedented levels of mental turmoil in young women" leading to an alarming increase in hospitalizations for self-harm and substance overdoses.
Celebrities have always used "retouched" photos and had makeup artists to maximize their looks on camera and in public. Now the filters on social media platforms afford the same advantage to teenage girls. This can lead to a distorted self-image. They begin to identify with the manipulated image and regard that photo as how they look in person.
Fashion writer Michelle Lee shared her experience with altered images and why she stopped using them,"I got so used to seeing my unnaturally porcelain face that my real human face looked so...human." She gave up the practice in favor of living in reality, flaws and all. But some young people aren't equipped with the wisdom in living life authentically.
This distortion of an image can lead to serious mental and emotional health issues and selfie addiction is becoming a common problem. When taking selfies becomes your primary activity every day, it's time to get help.
To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Mental Health section of our blog.
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