Social Media, in particular, Instagram, can be a negative source of body image for lots of users. In fact, according to CNN, Instagram is actually the worst mobile app in terms of young people's mental health. That's not to say that we shouldn't use Instagram at all. In fact, it is my personal favorite social media app. But if you aren't up-to-date with the newest apps in photo-editing, you may not know about one of the most common practices that Instagram users are taking part in: body distortion.
Apps such as FaceTune and AirBrush allow the user to distort the planes of their photograph, most often used to make themselves look thinner or curvier. Here are some examples of before and after photos that have been edited by @Karinairby on Instagram:
These photos are captioned by Karina with ways in which she edits them to make herself appear more appealing, and she includes the original photo for comparison. The photos have been linked back to her original page if you are interested in learning more about her statements on body distortion.
This practice has been going on in the advertising industry for years. Recently, however, companies like Dove, Aerie, Target, CVS, Adidas and more have stopped retouching their photographs in an effort to promote more body positivity among consumers.
With companies pushing toward more photography and representation of models without editing, is this editing trend still on the rise? More than ever, an online presence and building an online persona relies on aesthetics, whether it's lighting, contrast, collage-editing, or even body distortion. We should begin asking ourselves questions about the morality of this practice and the effect it can have on users with mental illness or issues with body distortion and disordered eating.
One solution offered up by the Royal Society for Public Health's #StatusofMind study is to call for social media platforms to disclose when a photograph has been digitally manipulated. This way, it will be easier for users to identify altered images, which may promote a more thoughtful approach to posting and consuming on social media.