Here’s a small truth: even if all filters and aspects of editing were removed from Instagram, it would still be a tough platform to navigate. Keeping a positive self-image and maintaining mental health on a platform teeming with seemingly perfect lives and bodies is hard for anyone.
When you’re flooded with so many images each day you’re consuming a lot of information about how you should act, what you should have and how you should look. On top of that, many popular accounts on Instagram portray standards that are incredibly unrealistic.
Thankfully, Instagram has taken steps to quieten the unrealistic portrayal of reality. Up until recently, the platform has allowed users to employ plastic surgery filters which give them a facelift or a lip filler effect. However, the platform has announced that it’ll be banning the use of these. According to BBC a spokesperson from Instagram said:
“We’re re-evaluating our policies – we want filters to be a positive experience for people.”
It’s a huge step in the right direction. Can you imagine the consequences of plastic surgery filters becoming “trendy?” Filters like these have the potential to alter people’s perception of what “normal” is and may lead users to feel that a modified body is a natural, attainable occurrence – that’s simply not the case.
Researchers have investigated the consequences of social media filters in the past and have even identified a phenomenon called ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia.’ The results were published in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery in August 2019.
According to Dr Neelan Vashi, director of the Boston University Cosmetic and Laser Centre, “patients are seeking out surgery to help them appear like the filtered versions of themselves”.
According to Independent, Dr Vashi also states that adolescents or those with BDD (body dysmorphic disorder) are particularly vulnerable to filtered images because they may more intensely internalise that modified beauty. Such research only further supports the ‘gram’s move to ban cosmetic filters.
Earlier this year, Instagram also restricted people under the age of 18 from seeing content that promoted weight loss or cosmetic products. However, the platform doesn’t ask users to specify their age, which means users as young as 10, 11 or 12 could be lying to access content restricted to those 18 and over.
It’s a slippery slope when it comes to Instagram, but if there’s one thing for sure, it’s that shutting-down sensationalised standards is always the right choice.