Digital Dysmorphia: How social media is making unhappy with how you look - Destiny Connect
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Digital Dysmorphia: How social media is making unhappy with how you look

How easy is it to take a picture without a filter on it? These days it is almost impossible to take a picture of yourself without tweaking it. While this seems like harmless online fun, studies have shown that the pervasiveness of filters and editing apps can have a negative impact on our mental health.

Mayo Clinic describes body dysmorphia as “a mental health disorder in which you can’t stop thinking about one or more perceived defects or flaws in your appearance.” Digital dysmorphia is body dysmorphia caused by our perception of our digital selves vs our real selves.

As we spend more time online, digital dysmorphia is on the rise. Women in particular are more affected by the over editing of images online.  In an article titled Digitized Dysmorphia of the female body: the re/disfigurement of the image, Gender Studies expert  Isabelle Coy-Dibley noted that our ability to create our “perfect” selves online has an effect on women’s relationship with their bodies.

“Advances in image technology have arguably further enabled and intensified this socially dysmorphic perception of female bodies,” Coy-Dibley said.

It’s no secret that many of us spend a lot of our time online. From working, shopping, watching Netflix, to consuming social media, we are constantly online.  The average South African spends “10 hours and 6 minutes a day browsing the internet, which equates to 154 days a year,” says Tech Talk.

Given the amount of time we spend online, it is no surprise that our online personas bleed into our real lives. Social media users are constantly bombarded with highly edited images presented as real. This affects our sense of what is real and what isn’t. The normalisation of the use of apps such as FaceTune gives us a false sense of what we should look like.

According to Coy-Dibley “the Kardashian effect” has a devastating effect on women’s sense of worth.

“While women may presently be experiencing more social power, society has undermined women by increasingly valuing their worth by their aesthetic image, pressuring women to focus on their bodies and standards of beauty. While women compete with men in employment, education and society, in return they are expected to adhere to feminine protocols in order to aesthetically please the male gaze.”

In order to align their real selves to their digital selves, many people are opting for drastic surgical procedures such as the Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL).  Although the procedure has a high mortality rate. There has been a dramatic increase in the demand for BBL’s.

The solution is to try and limit the amount of time on social media. “Decreasing the amount of time you spend on social media can help you decompress and focus on things other than your appearance,” Rush suggests. Most social media platforms are run by an algorithm which shows you what you like. Make sure that the people you follow are more “real” and not only focused on looks.

It is important to remember that what is in fashion changes, remember the thin eyebrows of the early 2000’s? It is impossible to keep up with all the trends. Learning to love yourself as you are can save you from a lot of harm and heartache.

About author


Zimela has been a multimedia content producer and writer for 10 years and an “insufferable feminist” for six. When she’s not battling writer’s block, you’ll find her practising the ukulele or watching documentaries on Netflix.
Zukiswa Zimela