Highlights

  • Selfie filters on social media have created delusional standards of beauty
  • Zoom video call era has further exacerbated self-image issues
  • Staring at their face in video calls all day has made people anxious about their appearance

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A study found that nearly 70% of people were anxious about returning to offline activities due to embarrassment about their appearance. 

What started with somewhat harmless rainbow-puking unicorns and dog ears on Snapchat has now become something that rules our digital and even, physical lives. Yes, we’re talking about selfie filters!

All fun and games!

Most of the younger generation has grown up around these filters. It sounds dangerous but filters initially were just fun and gimmicky, kind of like a virtual dress-up game. That was because back then, there still was a much clearer distinction between the virtual and the physical world.

SEE MORE Indians prolific users of selfie filters, Google study finds

Polish before publish

But as social media platforms became more and more popular, editing your pictures quickly became the largely accepted reality. Pictures were 'polished’ on editing apps before posting and even our phones started coming with skin-enhancing features.

The pressure to look 'perfect' online was so strong that young people are undergoing plastic surgery to look like their Instagram or Snapchat-filtered self.

SEE MORE Instagram imposes restrictions on diet and cosmetic surgery content

Sick of the delusional world of Instagram after just three years of its launch, the hashtag ‘#nofilter’ quickly rose to fame by 2013 and continues to be used by people even today. Although, we all know that there are plenty of no filter fakers out there.

In your face all day

The final nail in the filter coffin has obviously been the pandemic. From young children to the elderly, the infectious outbreak mandated screentime for all. When you talk to people in real life, you’re not focussing on your own face but with video calls, you were forced to look at your face for hours every day.

A 2021 study in the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology found that nearly 70% of people were anxious about returning to offline activities due to embarrassment about their appearance. The infamous ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’ that got popular in 2015 has now grown into the ‘Zoom Dysmorphia.’

The distortions of webcams

In 2020, people spent about 3 trillion hours online. Video conferencing platforms have added another layer to our insecurities. From the lighting, posture and camera angle to the quality of your webcam, front cameras can disguise your actual appearance. So, you go from looking at perfect selfies on social media to the highly unforgiving distorted visuals of a Zoom call.

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The unflattering projections have given self-image issues to people who might have avoided them for years even while participating in the social media circus.

Virtual insecurities incarnated

A 2020 American study in the journal Facial Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Medicine said that 72% of cosmetic surgeons witnessed a rise in patients wanting cosmetic procedures to improve their selfies.

Researchers say that it is important for people to see the limitations of webcams and understand that they are, at best, a flawed representation of reality.

But these anxieties won’t just go away when we meet face-to-face and it’s important for everyone to be mindful of them. So, when you meet your co-worker or friend after a long time, maybe don’t comment on their change in appearance? We’ve all already been through enough.

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