Today’s topic is about Apps, the wonderful invention after smartphones. Well, apps came with smartphones… Anyway, remember when we had the kind of phones that only has the function of texting, calling, photo/video function and the occasional one or two games that are pre-installed? The last phone I remember having with such limited functions was my pink LG phone I had when I was about 13. That’s about 7 years ago. It’s crazy how technology evolves so quickly. Now with the endless number of app creation every day, our phones can do wonders. We have apps that allow us to track our fitness, order takeaways, keep track of social media, and of course, enhance photos for our social media page. But before I get too deep into the topic, let me just show you something:
Yes, let that sink in for a bit…
This app aims to let young children as young as the age of four to look more beautiful as a healthy alternative to plastic surgery, according to the maker. I agree that plastic surgery for young kids is a terrible alternative but you need parental permission to undergo surgery.
First of all, there has definitely been debates about the media photoshopping models to create a beauty standard that’s impossible to achieve. A study has found that 84% of British women knew what photo manipulation was and how it was used, and the same number agreed that using it to change models’ bodies should be unacceptable. However, this does not change the fact that women still want to look like the photoshopped models and celebrities. The American Medical Association has been taking a stance against image manipulation for years but it’s unimaginable to think that 57% of women who participated in beautyheaven.com.au’s research, admits to personally “altering their own pictures before posting them on various social media sites.” Editing photos before posting them online have long been a trend started by celebrities.
We’ve talked about photos on social media being an illusion of the real. These photoshop applications that live in our phone is the tool to the illusion.
As mentioned before, alteration of photos was not a trend until we realized the media was just an illusion. The fact that we can achieve this illusion with just a few taps on our phones made it an obsession to want to “look good”. However, in comparison to exposure of images in the media vs peers, it is surprising to learn that images on social media of peers cause a more negative impact on body satisfaction as compared to the media. This is because mass media pictures are perceived to be fictional, whereas the appearance of a peer seems more real and achievable, thus adding more pressure for an individual to achieve a similar look to fit in socially (Ferguson et al, 2014). Exposure to these digitally altered images, from mass media or social media, have been proven to cause body dissatisfaction, low self-esteem, and body-image related anxiety. The consumption of these images ultimately leads to unhealthy diet and exercise behaviors which are detrimental to an individual’s health and wellbeing. All in all, digitally enhanced images by social peers are deemed more impactful than the mass media. These images can give individuals unrealistic expectations of beauty, ultimately leading to dissatisfaction with their appearance when they cannot be achieved.
How does altering your own image detrimental to your own well-being? Of course, the fact that one is altering their own image already shows the insecurities of that individual. In a recent study by McLean & Paxton (2015), they have found that girls who frequent alters their photos for social media “reported significantly higher overvaluation of shape and weight, body dissatisfaction, dietary restraint, and internalization of the thin ideal.” This concludes that manipulation of photos is more likely to cause personal body dissatisfaction, but also unhealthy actions to achieve the illusion created by an app.
Should photo editing apps be banned? In fact, should heavily manipulated photos be labeled? In the mass media, some countries insist on labeling photoshopped images or ban it. This, however, will possibly cause more eating disorder rates to rise as celebrities and models have to physically take action to “look attractive” in order to sell a product. As many adolescents look up to these public figures, they are more likely to follow these celebrities’ harmful diets and exercise routine. Photo editing apps could be banned but the effects of this action will be less detrimental than banning photoshop in mass media. Going back to seeing social peers as more “real” than mass media, the ban of photo editing apps could reveal a more realistic way of living.
In conclusion, photo editing apps cause unhealthy behaviors to arise from the consumption of manipulated photos and manipulating photos, as an individual will try to look like their peers or an individual trying to look more like the photos they have altered of themselves.