SOCIAL MEDIA LIES
The pressure to be perfect on social media can be overwhelming for some, writes RAQUEL de BRITO
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 beautyheaven.com.au, 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.”
THE PROBLEM WITH PERFECT
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.’
‘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.’