On the heels of removing “likes” and restricting irresponsible weight loss content, Instagram is now set to go even further to combat negative body image, announcing it has begun taking steps to roll back plastic surgery effects.
Over the coming weeks, the social media giant will remove all effects associated with plastic surgery from the Instagram Effect Gallery in Stories, as well as indefinitely postponing approval of new effects associated with plastic surgery, according to a Facebook statement by Spark AR, the company that creates Instagram Story filters.
As Instagram users already know, the app currently has a range of apps that offer alteration, from the realistic to the fantastical. However, the question now is: will the removal of these filters help to reduce body alteration? It’s hard to say, especially given other apps, such as Photoshop and Facetune, are also used to edit photos regularly. Unlike the filters that will soon be removed, those filters are less transparent, so arguably do as much, if not more, harm.
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However, a study published in August 2018, found that face filters on apps were leading to a phenomenon called “Snapchat dysmorphia,” where patients were seeking surgery “to help them appear like the filtered versions of themselves”.
“Filtered selfies especially can have harmful effects on adolescents or those with BDD [body dysmorphic disorder] because these groups may more severely internalise this beauty,” explained Dr Neelan Vashi, director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Centre.
Previously though, psychologist Dr Marny Lishman told body+soul that the platform could only go so far in unpicking our self-esteem issues, due to social comparison being “wired” into us.
“Social comparison theory states that we determine our own self worth based on how we compare against others,” she said. What’s more, how we approach the platform is often determined by what else is going on in our lives. She adds: “People need to be concentrating on their own inner psychological wellbeing, rather than looking externally at other factors that could be affecting it.”
The good news is though, the platform – which feeds comparison culture and has been labelled the worst app for our mental health – is taking the mental health of its users seriously.