The pres­sure to be per­fect on so­cial me­dia can be over­whelm­ing for some, writes RAQUEL de BRITO

The West Australian - - TODAY -

If you own an In­sta­gram or Face­book ac­count, there’s a good chance you’ve come across your fair share of en­vi­able pro­files — the ones with thou­sands of fol­low­ers and an end­less showreel of flaw­less skin, fit bod­ies and de­signer life­styles.

Many have prob­a­bly felt com­pletely in­ad­e­quate in com­par­i­son. How is their skin so ridicu­lously smooth? How do they have the time to sit on a beach and prac­tise yoga all the time? How can they af­ford all those de­signer clothes?

But as the old say­ing goes, if some­thing seems too good to be true, it prob­a­bly is.

There was a time when pho­to­shop­ping was con­fined to the glossy pages of fash­ion mag­a­zines, with edi­tors spend­ing hours us­ing ex­pen­sive soft­ware to re­touch the im­ages of al­ready im­pos­si­bly beau­ti­ful mod­els. Not any more.

Now, thanks to a rise in free and easy-to-use pho­to­shop­ping apps, many of those envy in­duc­ing pho­tos you see on your so­cial me­dia feeds are also re­touched, some be­yond recog­ni­tion of the orig­i­nal, and all it takes is a few min­utes.

In a 2015 sur­vey by Aus­tralian web­site beau­ty­, 57 per cent of re­spon­dents ad­mit­ted to reg­u­larly en­hanc­ing their own so­cial me­dia pic­tures even though 66 per cent op­posed to mag­a­zines do­ing the same.

“The most con­cern­ing thing is that it has trick­led down from just be­ing the su­per­mod­els in mag­a­zines that are do­ing it to the av­er­age ev­ery­day per­son,” Dr Michelle Jon­genelis, from the Curtin Univer­sity School of Psy­chol­ogy, says.

There are In­sta­gram fil­ters which give our skin a soft and youth­ful glow and then there are full-blown edit­ing apps that make pim­ples and wrin­kles dis­ap­pear, waist­lines shrink, smiles whiter, skin smoother, all with one easy swipe.

It’s so com­mon now that you may even have close friends who are sus­cep­ti­ble to the odd pinch-in of the waist here and smooth­ing of the skin there, with the pol­ished per­fec­tion they por­tray on so­cial me­dia not quite adding up to what you see in per­son.

“I sus­pect those edit­ing their pho­tos are not do­ing it for their im­me­di­ate friends who know what they look like, they’re prob­a­bly do­ing it for a broader au­di­ence — ac­quain­tances, peo­ple they used to know in high school, ex-boyfriends, peo­ple they don’t know where they want to be per­ceived as look­ing great, be­ing great,” Dr Jon­genelis ex­plains.

Perth child and ado­les­cent psy­chol­o­gist Jor­dan Fos­ter, a cy­ber safety ex­pert for ySafe, says thanks to the rise in the use of photo-edit­ing apps, she has seen girls who project a very dif­fer­ent life­style on so­cial me­dia to what they lead in re­al­ity.

“I’ve seen a girl in her 20’s and she’s beau­ti­ful, she has a lot of fol­low­ers but she looks like she has this life­style of be­ing very wealthy and very fit be­cause she wears a lot of work­out gear in her pho­tos and she has a yoga mat but she never goes to yoga,” Fos­ter says. “And she has a lot of de­signer hand­bags in her pho­tos and re­ally ex­pen­sive shoes and she told me what she does is she goes to de­signer stores, holds them and then takes a re­ally well-placed photo of the hand­bag, for ex­am­ple, and then doesn’t buy it but then ed­its it into her pho­tos — she doesn’t live that life­style at all.”


Dr Jon­genelis says while th­ese photo-en­hanc­ing apps po­ten­tially gen­er­ate more likes and pro­vide a short-term ego-boost, in the long term it could ac­tu­ally dam­age a per­son’s self-es­teem. “If they can put on the per­fect fil­ter and get a lot more likes then in the short-term that would have the po­ten­tial to in­crease their self-es­teem,” she says. “The prob­lem with that though, is it doesn’t work in the long-term so it’s just a short-term re­lease.

“So they think I’ve just got 20 likes or 30 likes or what­ever this ar­bi­trary num­ber is that they have in their heads that’s a good num­ber of likes and I feel good and be­cause I feel good

‘Fill up your so­cial me­dia feed with peo­ple who are a good in­flu­ence, who in­spire you, who make you feel that you can be ac­cept­ing of your­self and call out the rub­bish that can be on so­cial me­dia be­cause that can be more em­pow­er­ing than get­ting rid of it al­to­gether.’

Jor­dan Fos­ter

‘In the long-term, you will find an ero­sion of their trait self-es­teem and also the con­se­quences of not get­ting the self-es­teem they search for leads to de­pres­sion.’

Michelle Jon­genelis

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