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‘Snapchat dysmorphia’: how are selfie filters affecting self image and mental health?

In this photo illustration the Snapchat app is used on an iPhone,
In this photo illustration the Snapchat app is used on an iPhone,
Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

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Ten years ago, people may have brought in a photo of a famous actor for reference to a plastic surgeon.

But with the advent of Snapchat filters,one plastic surgeon is finding that patients asking to look like the doctored versions of their selfies — and some are concerned that the ubiquity of these filters is contributing to “Snapchat dysmorphia,”  according to a  recent article in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery.

While some Snapchat filters add puppy ears or a silly hat to your moving selfie, others can alter your features in more subtle ways: a smaller nose, higher cheekbones, blemish-free skin. These filters blur the lines between fantasy and reality, and for some might contribute to body dysmorphia disorder, which is on the obsessive-compulsive spectrum and is characterized by repetitive behaviors and extreme actions to hide what is perceived as an imperfection.

If you or someone you know uses these filters, how has it affected esteem and body image? What separates a cosmetic concern that someone takes to a plastic surgeon from body dysmorphia?


Katie Notopoulos, tech reporter for Buzzfeed News; she tweets @katienotopoulos

Catherine Walker, visiting assistant professor in clinical psychology at Union college in Schenectady, New York; her specialty is in eating disorders and body image

Ellen Fitzsimmons-Craft, instructor of psychiatry at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis whose speciality is in eating disorders