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Who doesn't love a good filter? They're great. They can erase fine lines, help even out skin pigment and also make things smaller - or bigger - with just a swipe of a finger. But, what about making you look totally different - or even like the opposite gender?

Recently on SnapChat, women across the country were adding filters to their selfies to create "malefies," or images that showed them what they would look like as a man. They shared these silly - and sometimes creepy - pictures on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Not to be outdone, some men also joined in on the fun, sharing their own self-images filtered to make them look like women.

While this was all in good fun, filters take some things to the next level that may have more serious implications.

"One of those things is body dysmorphia," said Dr. Mona Alqulali, a Clinton, Iowa, cosmetic surgeon.

Body dysmorphia is a mental disorder that causes sufferers to fixate on one or more flaws or perceived flaws in their appearance. In most cases, the "defect" or flaw is very minor or not observable to others. Many people living with body dysmorphia report feeling anxious or self-conscious in social situations.

So, how is that connected to filters and selfies?

"Selfies force us to look at ourselves constantly. Adding in filters to adjust our appearance can make us ask ourselves, What if we had a real cosmetic procedure to make corrections," said Alqulali.

This theory has been tested: In 2014, researchers at the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery studied the impact of selfies on the facial plastic surgery industry. They found that one in three facial plastic surgeons surveyed reported an increase in requests for procedures from patients who were concerned about their appearance on social media.

That year, AAFPRS members surveyed in the study noted a 10 percent increase in rhinoplasty in 2013 over 2012 and a 6 percent increase in the blepharoplasty eyelid procedure.

Demand for other facial procedures has increased steadily since 2014, too.

"Each year, the number of cosmetic procedures in the United States increases," Alqulali said.

Top facial procedures still include rhinoplasty and blepharoplasty, but also Botox or dermal fillers.

"Minimally invasive procedures are in demand because of their fast recovery times, and in most cases, the procedure itself is very quick, which means patients can often have 'work' done on their lunch hour and get back to business quickly," Alqulali said.

There's another snag with selfies, though. According to researchers at Rutgers University, selfies don't capture what the rest of the world sees.

In a 2018 study, researchers from the school found selfies taken from a distance of 12 inches away can cause as much as 30 percent distortion in features.


Live Science. Selfies Distort Your Face by 30% — And Here's the Math to Back It Up. 1 March 2018.

Allure. Plastic Surgery Trends for 2018 Are Being Shaped by Social Media. Allure. 30 January 2018.

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Tuesday, 23 July 2019
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