‘Looking at your real face in the mirror suddenly scares you’: Why filters are harmful to physical and mental health | Health and wellness

Plastic surgeons remember the times with a certain nostalgia and tenderness naive Where his patients would come into the office with a picture of, say, Angelina Jolie, and they’d say, “I want this.” It was as simple as turning the picture upside down and telling them: “Very well, but you’re not Angelina Jolie.”

Two decades later, the first meeting was complicated. Patients pull out their phones and show filtered faces: “I want this,” they say, but now it’s hard to convince them that it’s impossible. The “I’m not Angelina Jolie” argument fails because this time it passes through a symmetric sieve of augmented reality. They arrive at counseling after a period of living with the best version of their species. They were more handsome, younger, smoother, and of course, they wanted to pay to have all of that.

“They come in with their faces well studied, they have tried different filters, they know how they look better and they come up with a diagnosis: they say if they want to enlarge the lips or raise the cheekbones… Sometimes they ask for really strange things that cannot be achieved, for example, a change in the position of the eyes. This Dr. Gema Perez Sevilla, a plastic surgeon who specializes in oral and maxillofacial surgery. On Instagram, she just posted a video of her face running through TikTok’s Bold Glamor. He told his more than 45,000 followers: “It is not healthy to show the world species that are not ours and that, In addition, it is repeatable in serials for the whole world.

Although TikTok has not confirmed this, experts believe that Bold Glamor applies a kind of artificial intelligence that accurately regenerates faces, the most skewed, with realism and proofreading. It instantly puts you in front of your best version. Erase everything you don’t want to see: wrinkles, sunken cheekbones, dark circles, open pores, sagging chin, dull eyes, sparse eyelashes. And it does so in real time and without fail. It’s a mental trap that gets stuck. The filter has been used over 16 million times since its launch in February. Generative Adversarial Network artificial intelligence, otherwise known as GANs, compares each face against a database of infinite faces. Then with technology machine learning Build the best possible version of the filtered face. If the aesthetic is impressive, its realism is even more so, this elevated version of yourself fails when you move your face, nor when the hand enters the visual field (traditional candidate faces are almost always betrayed by the hand movements of their owners).

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The phenomenon of people requesting surgeries to look like their digitally filtered photo was coined on Snapchat (the first filters came across that platform) by Dr. Taegyeon Echo, a plastic surgeon at clinics in London and Newcastle. In 2018, a study published in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery He suggested that leaked images of the self blur the line between reality and fantasy and could lead to body dysmorphic disorder, a mental disorder characterized by an obsession with imagined physical defects.

“Until the advent of filters, we have never encountered our best version, and this is harmful because it leads to a comparison in which reality always loses. Our brain’s perception changes, and when you see yourself without makeup, you feel a certain rejection towards your image because the brain also prefers the better option,” says Dr. Perez Seville.

Every day, Paz Torralba, director of The Beauty Concept Clinics, has to do “educational work” to win the trust of those patients who arrive “with very high expectations and an unreal image, distorted by filters, and who hide serious problems with their self-esteem and self-perception.” Both acknowledge that the female candidates have changed somewhat in the practice of their profession.

According to Snapchat, more than 90% of young people in the US, France and the UK use AR filters. For its part, Meta reports that more than 600 million people have used AR effects on Facebook and Instagram. Also, this habit starts early and before. A 2020 investigation by the Dove Self-Esteem Project says that by the age of 13, 80% of girls have already used a filter to change their appearance. The Bold Glamor filter is so new that there can be no scientific evidence of its effect on self-esteem, but those earlier filters have been scrutinized, which now seem primitive and almost toy-like to us.

Available scientific evidence shows that the further a filtered image is from our self-perception, the worse we feel. He also notes that heavy use of filters speeds up the first visit to the plastic surgeon.

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Therapist Adriana Royo has very young patients, under the age of 20, who, when they get sick, put on a filter to appear in front of a TikTok audience. “They don’t show their worst faces, even though they can tell their followers they had a bad day, and they even cry in front of their audience. It ends up affecting the brain. What I’ve seen in the last 10 years of clinical practice is that anxiety and depression are closely related to the constant search for perfect.”

In 2021, a study from City University of London explored the negative mental health effects of 175 young women and non-binary people between the ages of 18 and 30. More than 90% of young women use filters or significantly modify their photos. The most popular filters were the ones that delivered an even, tanned, glowing complexion, white teeth, and shedding several pounds. Use the filters to define the jawline, correct the nose, enlarge the eyes, and fill in the lips. According to the authors, the younger girls admitted to being under “a lot of pressure” to appear “happy, playful and have a very active social life,” all while being “pretty unproductive” (Effortless beauty, the Anglo-Saxon term popular on TikTok and other networks that hide behind filters and massive editing hours). Researchers found that people with low self-esteem and poor self-image were more likely to use filters, a behavior that reinforces negative beliefs about their appearance.

Other research has also shown that filter abuse increases feelings of body dissatisfaction. “No longer only do they compare their appearance to professionally produced photos of celebrities, but they judge themselves harshly against their own leaked selfies,” the authors write, noting that such constant scrutiny damages self-confidence.

The obsession with comparing and judging yourself on social media is heightened by filtering (a disconnect between your actual appearance and edited photos deemed appropriate to share with the world). This alienation from reality is noted in her work by researcher Ashna Habid On how Snapchat filters affect young womenAnd Published 2022. Habeed described one of the rituals: “You start finding flaws that no one would notice, for example, the shape of the face or the width of the forehead. To correct these supposed flaws, they often look at their old photos. Then they spend a lot of time repeating their selfies over and over, adjusting them until they get the perfect fit. look ideal. Eventually they try to change their look to get closer and closer to their leaked version. It’s very likely that there are people who have never posted a photo that haven’t gone beyond that one.

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Other studies suggest that a detailed and overly detailed comparison of manipulated faces and bodies generates a kind of self-reification that could explain why users of the scalpel’s intense filter choose so quickly to correct themselves once and for all. American Plastic Surgeons warn that unlike other static filters, TikTok’s Bold Glamor smooths pores, adds lashes, and “remains undetectable to the untrained eye.” In this hyperrealism lies its perversion.

TikTok isn’t making a gown about Bold Glamor’s design, but it did ask its creators in an official statement to be “honest” and tag their content every time they use this filter. In France since last Friday is an obligation. All the influencers The second-in-command of the CEO and Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, explained that they would have to plug their audience using “beauty filters”, in order to “limit their devastating psychological effects”. Bans are part of the Guide to Behavior directed at influencers and content creators.

The confusion between reality and fiction disturbs identity, writes Renee Englen, director of the Body and Media Lab at Northwestern University (Illinois). “Looking at your real face in the mirror suddenly scares you. You will never love yourself again. You will always find something that needs to be corrected. Your interest in plastic surgery and other procedures will soon increase,” notes the researcher.

If Paz Torralba and Perez Sevilla have really noticed something, it’s that their patients are becoming more demanding and have very high expectations. They don’t want to be Angelina Jolie anymore, that’s right. Now they want to be their Tiktok clone. As Murphy’s first law says, everything is always subject to aggravation.

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