Everyday, we find ourselves becoming more dependent on technology, especially social media. Even though we have endless opportunities to connect, interact, and learn, has the digital era affected how we view ourselves? Is body dysmorphia becoming more common because of it?
With social sharing platforms like Instagram, many users share their lives online. Posting their highlights or their “best” photos, reality is often skewered, and viewers begin to compare themselves to these carefully curated images. Even though self-comparison occurred even before the digital age, it is now more prominent than ever. As harmless as it may sound, many mental health issues can arise, including body dysmorphia.
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Is the digital era giving us body dysmorphia?
What is body dysmorphia?
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition affecting people of all ages and gender, where one often worries about flaws and appearance. Although caring about your appearance is normal, how much is too much? Arguably, it’s when these flaws start to cause distress and affect your daily life. It’s also when you intensely focus on your appearance and body image. Actions such as repeatedly checking the mirror, seeking reassurance, and grooming yourself for various hours each day, are signs of body dysmorphia.
Body dysmorphia is when you see yourself but don’t actually see what you truly look like. Some would say “it’s ugliness in the mirror.” This disorder gets so bad at times one may avoid social situations or even stepping outside the house due to embarrassment or shame. BDD can also lead to an eating disorder, chronic pains, and panic attacks. This condition is quite common and even celebrities like Megan Fox are said to have suffered from it — somebody whom many perceive as the epitome of beauty.
Body dysmorphia in the digital era
Living in a world of social media, we often compare ourselves to others. Seeing someone’s perfectly curated life online can sometimes take a toll, making us question “why can’t our life be like theirs?” Other questions like “Why can’t I have that jawline, chin, slim waist, big butt, and boobs?” may also arise. Although using photoshop apps such as FaceTune and FaceApp have become normalised, we still compare. With just a few clicks, anyone can instantly change how they look— creating the “perfect” self. Even though it’s not real, these pictures still set an unrealistic standard for many men and women. These apps are so widespread that many don’t even recognise the difference between the real picture and the edited one unless it’s a side-by-side. Even worse, it’s looking at how “unattractive” you look in the unedited picture versus the modified one, which will distort your self-image even more. It’s hard not to feel the pressure to look perfect, especially when everyone edits their photos.
The obsession with ‘good looks’ has tremendously impacted the mental health of today’s generation. We have videos like “What I eat in a day” to the iconic “Alexis Ren’s 10-minute ab workout” that showcases her perfect torso. But if you dive deeper, Alexis, too, struggled with body dysmorphia and, at those times, was barely eating to maintain her shape. Other than that, we have certain influencers or celebrities endorsing how their appearance is natural when in reality, it’s not. How does this impact young and impressionable people? Resorting to fillers or Botox, eating less, or even having plastic surgery are some of the answers. The catch is that even doing all this will never truly be enough until one learns self-love and acceptance.
The act of self-love and acceptance
Learning how to love and accept yourself takes time. Coming from someone who struggles with her self-image, everything is a journey. It’s a work in progress, but if you’re willing to keep trying and not give up, that’s all that matters. Although living in the digital era can take a toll, we have a choice to not allow it to take over. Sometimes taking social media detoxes or unfollowing certain people on social media are the best ways to lessen or prevent these feelings. However, for the best course of action, talking to a professional is the way to go.