Burn­ing Ques­tion: Is so­cial me­dia ru­in­ing our self-es­teem?

The world’s selfie ob­ses­sion has tipped over into scary ter­ri­tory, with celebs and plebs liv­ing for the ‘likes’... with some­times fright­en­ing re­sults!

NW - - Hot Shots -

Whether you’re liv­ing in 90210 or in the mid­dle of Aus­tralia, for many of us, so­cial me­dia – be it Face­book, In­sta­gram, Snapchat or Twit­ter – is the very first thing we check in the morn­ing, and the last thing we look at be­fore nod­ding off at night, of­ten mid-scroll. True story.

“It’s what I woke up to and went to sleep to. I was an ad­dict,” Se­lena Gomez, 25, who’s the most fol­lowed per­son on In­sty with 130 mil­lion devo­tees, once said.

But our ob­ses­sion with so­cial me­dia is prov­ing a dou­ble-edged sword, with the neg­a­tive stuff bring­ing us crash­ing down just as quickly as any wave of ‘likes’ boosts our egos.

“It felt like I was see­ing things I didn’t want to see, like it was putting things in my head that I didn’t want to care about,” ad­mits Sel. “I al­ways end up feel­ing like s**t when I look at In­sta­gram. My self-es­teem was shot.” And she’s not alone… Our ad­dic­tion to dou­ble-tap­ping and re­lent­lessly post­ing selfies that (hope­fully) see the likes rolling in has now headed into dan­ger­ous ter­ri­tory.

In fact, many peo­ple are go­ing as far as al­ter­ing their ap­pear­ances with plas­tic surgery in a des­per­ate – and wor­ry­ing – at­tempt to trans­late “dig­i­tal at­trac­tive­ness” into real life.

A re­cent study con­ducted by the Amer­i­can Academy of Fa­cial Plas­tic and Re­con­struc­tive Surgery found that 42% of fa­cial plas­tic sur­geons now have pa­tients re­quest­ing surgery just to look bet­ter on so­cial me­dia.

“Pa­tients come to the of­fice and re­mark that they ‘didn’t re­alise’ that this as­pect of their face or nose looked that way un­til they saw cer­tain an­gles on one of the so­cial me­dia posts,” says plas­tic sur­geon Dr Fred G. Fe­dok.

“Now that they see it, they want it cor­rected. I be­lieve they want to cor­rect the flaw to look ‘bet­ter’ for them­selves and also for how they look in pho­tos.”

Post­ing a selfie is hard be­cause there’s a lot of pres­sure. It has to be per­fect... There’s an im­age that I con­stantly feel pres­sured to keep up with

– Kyliejen­ner

I al­ways end up feel­ing like s**t when I look at In­sta­gram... My self-es­teem was shot

– Se­le­nagomez


So Some doc­tors have ha even coin coined the phrase “selfie dys dys­mor­phia” to de­scribe the phe­nom­e­non. “A “Apps of­fer things like flaw­less fla skin, then peo­ple wa want to recre­ate that in real life,” lif says Uk-based cos­metic sur­geon su Dr Mu­nir Somji. “It’s also be­com­ing com­mon comm to use fil­ters to recre­ate recre the ef­fect of con­tour­ing, with­out ith make-up. But some pa­tients have prob­lems with body dys­mor­phia, and will never be happy with them­selves. I’ve ad­vised some pa­tients that surgery isn’t nec­es­sary and they should stop tak­ing selfies, as it fu­els their ob­ses­sion with their ‘flaws’,” adds Dr Somji.

Un­able to face re­al­ity

Mother-of-three Lucy O’grady, 42, ad­mits she turned to surgery in or­der to look more like her dig­i­tal­lyen­hanced selfies. “I strug­gle with self-con­fi­dence and edit­ing apps made me feel bet­ter about my looks,” she says. “I wanted to per­ma­nently emu­late the ef­fect of the apps.”

Un­der­stand­ably, many high-pro­file stars also feel they have to be pic­ture-per­fect on so­cial me­dia.

“Post­ing a selfie is hard be­cause there’s a lot of pres­sure. It just has to be per­fect,” ad­mits Kylie Jen­ner, 20, who has 99.3 mil­lion fol­low­ers – and count­ing! – on In­sty!

“There’s an im­age I feel con­stantly pres­sured to keep up with… In or­der to stay rel­e­vant for the pub­lic, I have to be on In­sta­gram and Snapchat.”

“Peo­ple don’t un­der­stand the pres­sure on me to look per­fect,” agrees her big sis­ter Kim Kar­dashian, 37, who freely ad­mits to con­tour­ing specif­i­cally to im­press her whop­ping 104 mil­lion fol­low­ers.

“When you’ve done it re­ally well it def­i­nitely helps your selfie,” she adds.

Made In Chelsea star Stephanie Pratt, 31, also re­sorts to re­touch­ing her pics be­fore post­ing them – and sees no prob­lem with do­ing so.

“I kind of twirl around un­til the light is right! If I have a spot on my face I won’t hes­i­tate to smooth it out with the Face­tune app,” she says.

Toxic taps

But not all celebri­ties are will­ing to bow to so­cial me­dia’s strange stan­dards. “I think it’s crazy,” says ac­tress Sophia Bush, 35. And she’s not the only one who’s recog­nised there’s too much im­por­tance be­ing placed on scor­ing like af­ter like af­ter like! “It def­i­nitely does some­thing to the soul. There are times when I feel de­pressed or anx­ious and a big part of it comes from [so­cial me­dia],” says Hai­ley Bald­win, who turns 21 this week. “If we didn’t have so­cial me­dia, we’d have a weight lifted off our shoul­ders. It does af­fect you. Peo­ple tell me I’m ugly, fat. I try not to care, but... ev­ery­one wants to see what peo­ple are say­ing about them.” Or­ange County-based me­dia psy­chol­o­gist Dr Pamela Rut­ledge says this is ex­actly where on­line shar­ing can po­ten­tially be de­struc­tive.

“We are hard-wired to be so­cial. We want other peo­ple to like us, so we care if we get likes and clicks. That is nor­mal, so peo­ple shouldn’t beat them­selves up over car­ing about that,” Dr Rut­ledge tells NW.

“But they should be aware of the fact that pay­ing too much at­ten­tion to that is giv­ing away their own power. If you’re al­low­ing whether you get a lot of likes to de­fine how you feel that day, then it’s time to back off.”

Time for a time-out

In fact, some stars are so fed up with try­ing to keep up their per­fect il­lu­sions that they’ve stepped away and taken a so­cial me­dia sab­bat­i­cal.

“I just wanted to detox,” Ken­dall Jen­ner, 22, said of her de­ci­sion to pull the pin – al­beit tem­po­rar­ily – last Novem­ber. “I felt a lit­tle too de­pen­dent on it.”

In Fe­bru­ary 2015, Iggy Aza­lea, 27, quit Twit­ter af­ter cop­ping flak on­line for some un­flat­ter­ing bikini pics.

“Just got back from a great va­ca­tion, came on­line and saw ap­par­ently it’s shock­ing and un­heard of to be a woman and have cel­lulite,” she tweeted.

Mean­while, Demi Lo­vato, 25, an­nounced she was quit­ting Twit­ter and In­sta­gram in June 2016 so she didn’t “have to see what some of y’all say.”

Even­tu­ally though, Kenny, Iggy and Demi all came rush­ing back – the lure and ap­peal of so­cial me­dia and its au­di­ence of ad­mir­ers too great to ig­nore.

But some smart celebs have steered clear of so­cial me­dia al­to­gether (see box, top right).

“[So­cial me­dia] has a huge im­pact on young wom­ens’ self-es­teem, be­cause all they ever do is de­sign them­selves for peo­ple to like them,” says Kate Winslet. “And what comes along with that? Eat­ing dis­or­ders. And that makes my blood boil and is the rea­son we don’t have any so­cial me­dia in our house.”

A dis­torted view

Ex­perts agree celebri­ties like Kate, 42, are the smart ones.

“Adults us­ing In­sta­gram are more likely to have low self- es­teem and feel pres­sure to look good in pho­tos,’’ says Aus­tralian Psy­cho­log­i­cal So­ci­ety spokes­woman Dr Lyn O’grady.

But why? “Peo­ple tend to put their best foot for­ward on so­cial me­dia, so we see others’ best mo­ments and end up mea­sur­ing all of who we are against a small sliver of the best of who other peo­ple are. That can wear hard on our self-es­teem, be­cause our whole lives will never look as good as some­body else’s best life, of course,” Canada-based mar­riage and fam­ily ther­a­pist Carolyn Klassen tells NW.

“We get this dis­torted view of how other peo­ple are liv­ing their lives. We mea­sure our in­sides against other peo­ple’s out­sides,” adds Carolyn. “Peo­ple edit what they put for­ward on so­cial me­dia, and we live unedited lives, so that’s a chal­lenge...”

But if you’re not will­ing to put a stop to on­line shar­ing all to­gether, ex­perts rec­om­mend it isn’t healthy to spend more than two hours a day on so­cial me­dia as ex­ces­sive use will only add to feel­ings of so­cial iso­la­tion.

Even Kimmy K isn’t so in­tense when it comes to keep­ing up on In­sty these days. “It’s not what con­sumes me any­more,” she says, “like how it used to”.

Well, if Kim can cut back... n

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