It’s sad to admit that this decade will probably be remembered as the decade of the selfie. In pursuit of the perfect image, people are compelled to take hundreds of pictures of themselves per day, offering a curated view into their lives. These images are then passed through image editing apps and enhanced with filters until we are left with something that is a far cry from anything we recognize.
While many may dismiss this as a fun fad that helps us keep up with our friends, others will say it is a dangerous strand of narcissism that threatens to destroy the body image of an entire generation.
We’re already seeing the negative impact that goes hand in hand with our obsession with looking picture perfect. In 2012, when video calling from mobile devices started to take off, patients began to request cosmetic surgery to improve their appearance on video chat. One surgeon even developed a new technique dubbed the “Facetime Facelift” to perform a standard facelift with scars that wouldn’t show on video chat.
Cosmetic surgery claims have also increased in recent years, and many people are blaming the rise in unrealistic expectations rather than medical malpractice. While it may have been easier to blame celebrities and magazines for showing us airbrushed images, the general population are now complicit in this body image scandal. So how are we expected to remain body positive in the endless reel of perfect selfies?
1. Be aware of your motivation.
If you’re prone to the odd selfie, ask yourself what you are hoping to get from it. Are you looking for validation, or is it just an opportune moment to share a snippet of your life? Looking for external validation will never help to bolster your body image, as this is and always will be an internal struggle.
2. Try to stop comparing.
The saying goes that you should never compare your beginning to someone else’s ending, and this couldn’t be truer. Comparison is the thief of joy, so you should try to be mindful of this while browsing social media. Learning to be happy for the people you see looking picture perfect without this robbing you of any pride is an important step.
3. Connect with people offline.
Your friends' lives may look perfect online, but if you connect with them in real life, you’ll soon discover that they have their own problems. By moving the bulk of your interactions offline, you’ll be much happier. A catch-up with a friend will always feel a million times better than ten shallow interactions with acquaintances.
4. Avoid social media when possible.
A study in TIME Magazine revealed that we are often left with feelings of frustration, envy, and loneliness when scrolling through our friend’s timelines. If this sounds like you, it might be time to switch social media off. Taking a break, or even a phone break, can do wonders for your mental health.
Tell us in the comments what you think about the “selfie era.”
Rebecca Harper is a freelance writer living in London. After studying English at university, she pursued a career in journalism. She enjoys writing about animal welfare and personal development.