When it comes to how we look, I think it’s fair to say we’ve all compared ourselves to others at one time or another. I know I’ve been guilty of this, too. Looking at photoshopped magazine images and selfies with manipulated facial features contributes to this notion of aspirational and often unattainable beauty. Sometimes this comes with undesirable results. In this post, we’ll take a hard look at what is distorting our perceptions of beauty and what we can do to combat it.
What is fuelling our society’s “ideals of beauty”?
You don’t have to go very far to come across a photo of a woman with sharp cheekbones, a thin nose, plump lips, and perfect skin. But as we know, what we see isn’t always what we know to be true. Selfies, social media filters, and celebrity culture have distorted our perceptions of how we should look. Let’s examine their effects.
- SELFIES Selfies, or self-taken photos, are ubiquitous. Without a doubt, these types of photos morph facial features, for better or for worse. What you look like in a selfie is not what you look like in real life. Remember that most selfies are shot at a much shorter distance—the length of your arm or selfie stick. That’s when the distorted perceptions of beauty come into play. Usually, your nose and chin will look bigger while your face looks slimmer, for example. A study published in Body Image journal confirmed that “women who took and posted selfies to social media reported feeling more anxious, less confident, and less physically attractive afterward.” In other words, the problems start when selfies start to become a measure of self-worth.
- SOCIAL MEDIA FILTERS If you’ve spent any time on social media, you know that it acts as a highly curated repository for documenting a person’s life. Perhaps you’ve also noticed that people don’t look as they do in real life. In most cases, you can thank filters for that. Filters found on apps like Snapchat and Instagram are now so widespread. As a result, we have begun to perceive this type of removed-from-reality beauty as normal. In fact, psychologists have identified this as “Snapchat Dysmorphia”. It’s a condition where patients seek surgery to make themselves look like their filtered version.
- CELEBRITY CULTURE We all know that we put celebrities on a pedestal. What we tend to overlook is that they have careers that require them to look flawless. They have an army of people to help them achieve their “perfectly natural” (and in some cases “unnatural”) looks. Think personal trainers, stylists, hairdressers, makeup artists, aestheticians, plastic surgeons, and professional photographers. This lifestyle and look are unrealistic and unsuitable to the majority of the population. And yet some of us still compare ourselves to the celebrities we see.
Why is it important to understand these false perceptions of beauty?
By understanding that selfies, social media, and celebrity culture distort our perceptions of beauty, we can accept our own beauty. (And we can avoid low self-esteem, self-objectification, anxiety, and depression!)
I’d like to share a personal anecdote: I am the same age as Jennifer Lopez. I can remember a time when I saw a photo of her and thought, “I wish I had her perfect glowing skin. I wish I could look more like her.” The comparison of her look to my own made me feel frumpy, old, and unhappy. So, I made the conscious effort to stop scrutinizing my beauty based on someone else’s. Frankly, I like how I look and I feel good about the actions I take to look my best. That includes exercise, eating healthy, using good skincare, sleeping well, and using preventative aesthetic treatments. I can report that I’m much healthier and happier!
ARE non-surgical medical aesthetics a healthier option than trying to imitate someone else’s look?
It’s normal biological behaviour to want to look our best. As women, we colour our hair, wear make up, paint our nails, and wear fashionable clothes. Men shave their beard, mustache, cut their hair, use hair gel, or work out to look their best.
The problem with trying to look like someone else is that it sets us up for disappointment and low self-esteem. What if you can’t achieve the look? Where do you stop?
If you’re not happy with your looks but want to do something about it, you can take a healthier approach:
A) learn to love yourself just as you are OR
B) enhance your own features with medical aesthetic treatments that lead to natural results.
A big part of my motivation in opening my practice was to help women build up their confidence. To me, cosmetic treatments aren’t just about looking good. They’re about helping people match their outward appearance to their inner beauty. You can read more about my motivation and passion for my work here.
In fact, I have a rule in my practice: “Only the right cosmetic treatment for the right patient.” During my consultation process, I try to understand a patient’s motivation for the treatment and educate them about realistic outcomes. I love working with patients who are happy with themselves but who want to enhance their looks to match how they feel. Conversely, if I meet a patient with unrealistic or unnatural expectations, I would decline to treat them. I wouldn’t feel right setting them up for disappointment and possible depression.
It’s always important to take stock of what makes us uniquely beautiful—inside and out—no matter what age we are. If you feel that you need a little boost to align your inner and outer beauty, then reach out to a medical aesthetic doctor to discuss your options. After all, we all deserve to own our true beauty!
Are you ready to try positive aging cosmetic treatments? Be Beautiful Medical invites you to discuss your options with us. We offer a wide range of cosmetic procedures using innovative technologies. Let’s customize a plan just for you to reach the results you want.
Reach out to us today to set up an appointment.