Is so­cial me­dia de­stroy­ing our self-esteem?

We're so selfie ob­sessed it's dan­ger­ous As it emerges that nearly half of cos­metic surgery pa­tients have been in­flu­enced by on­line edit­ing apps, Closer speaks to two women who took dras­tic ac­tion to feel bet­ter about their In­sta­gram self­ies

Closer (UK) - - Contents - By Anna Mathe­son

Look­ing at her­self L in the mir­ror, Lucy O’grady frowned at the im­age star­ing back at her. The mum was so ac­cus­tomed to us­ing edit­ing apps to make her self­ies look per­fect, she couldn’t bear her face in real life.

In a des­per­ate at­tempt to boost her self-esteem, Lucy re­sorted to surgery, in a bid to look like her edited pho­tos.

She says, “I strug­gle with self-con­fi­dence and edit­ing apps made me feel bet­ter about my looks. But ear­lier this year a stranger mes­saged me on Face­book, ask­ing why I looked rough in some pho­tos and stun­ning in oth­ers. It was dev­as­tat­ing, so I had surgery to look like my Face­book and In­sta­gram pics. I wanted to per­ma­nently em­u­late the ef­fect of the apps.”

And Lucy’s ac­tions aren’t un­usual. A re­cent study* found that so­cial me­dia had in­flu­enced 49 per cent of cos­metic surgery pa­tients. Doc­tors have even coined the term “selfie dys­mor­phia”, to de­scribe the phe­nom­e­non.

Cos­metic Sur­geon and CMO of Dr Medispa, Dr Mu­nir Somji, ex­plains, “Apps of­fer things like flaw­less skin, then peo­ple want to recre­ate that in real life. It’s also be­com­ing com­mon to use fillers to recre­ate the ef­fect of con­tour­ing, with­out 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’.”


Tanya Goodin, founder of dig­i­tal detox con­sul­tancy Time To Log Off, sug­gests read­dress­ing the bal­ance on your so­cial feeds.

She says, “Try cut­ting down on tak­ing self­ies and fo­cus on other as­pects of life in your pictures. There are also so many pos­i­tive hash­tags like #no­make­up­selfies and #iwoke­u­p­likethis where real women share unedited pho­tos and they are great to re­mind you of what’s real.”

Wor­ry­ingly, over 50 surgery-sim­u­lat­ing apps ex­ist, al­low­ing you to edit pho­tos. And Lucy, 42, spent up to an hour a day on her self­ies.


She says, “I’d take 20 and edit my teeth, nose and hair colour, then I’d up­load five to Face­book. It wasn’t about get­ting likes, I just did it to make my­self feel bet­ter.”

Lon­doner Lucy, who is a carer for her autis­tic son, Stir­ling, 12, adds, “I felt hor­ri­ble, but I couldn’t stop – it was like a form of self-harm, I was ad­dicted. If I dated, men seemed dis­ap­pointed when they met me, as I didn’t look like my self­ies.”

In the past year Lucy – who’s suf­fered with body dys­mor­phia since her teens – has spent £2,000 on teeth whiten­ing, fillers and Bo­tox. But with each pro­ce­dure, she found some­thing else about her­self she hated. In Au­gust, she had rhino­plasty, to cor­rect her breath­ing and straighten her nose.

She says, “A div­ing ac­ci­dent had left my nose wonky. I liked my new look af­ter surgery, but I still hated my­self and started look­ing into a thread-lift to tighten up my face.”

But in Septem­ber, Lucy hit rock bot­tom. She says, “It got to the point where I hated my­self so much, I wasn’t leav­ing the house. I knew I needed to change, so I booked a trip to Greece and quit so­cial me­dia.

“It was hard, but I knew I needed a break and to spend time with my son,” she says. “While we were there, I met a friend who runs a cat sanc­tu­ary. See­ing how badly some an­i­mals are treated gave me some­thing to fo­cus on apart from my­self.”

Now, Lucy has set up a char­ity, called Kalami Kats, to re­home Greek stray cats in the UK. She’s also stopped her selfie ob­ses­sion.


She says, “I’m much calmer and hap­pier – now I’ve got some­thing I’m pas­sion­ate about, I’m not so stressed about my looks.”

She adds, “I avoid In­sta­gram, but I posted a selfie on Face­book with­out any make-up and the re­ac­tion was amaz­ing. I just want peo­ple to see the real me.”

Ruth An­der­son, 31, also turned to surgery to look “bet­ter” on so­cial me­dia.

The sin­gle PA from Ox­ford­shire says, “I’d take and edit self­ies up to six times a day, and looked to stars like the TOWIE girls for in­spi­ra­tion. In 2014, I spent £4,000 on a nose job, af­ter us­ing an edit­ing app to see how it would look smaller. I re­gret it, though, be­cause it isn’t that dif­fer­ent.”

In a bid to cre­ate her per­fect im­age, Ruth has spent nearly £20,000 on surgery and treat­ments, in­clud­ing a boob job, ve­neers and hair ex­ten­sions over a pe­riod of six years.

But she’s vowed to go no fur­ther. She says, “I’m em­bar­rassed that I was so self­ob­sessed and I’m try­ing to stay away from so­cial me­dia now.”

Lucy strug­gled with self-con­fi­dence…

She turned to cos­metic surgery…

…to em­u­late the ef­fect of her fil­tered pho­tos

Ruth be­fore all her surgery

She had a nose job af­ter us­ing an edit­ing app to al­ter her ap­pear­ance

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