‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’: We spoke to a plastic surgeon about the trend and why it isn’t really a big deal

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‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’: We spoke to a plastic surgeon about the trend and why it isn’t really a big deal

Step One: We all relax

by Nian Hu

Lately, everyone has been flipping a massive shit about something called “Snapchat dysmorphia.” Word has it that young women these days are all desperate to get plastic surgery so they can look more like the selfies that they edit on Snapchat or Facetune — with smoother skin, bigger eyes, fuller lips, and thinner noses.

Concerned adults who clearly watch too much Black Mirror and think that technology spells humanity's doom are worried that we are "living in the era of filtered photographs." People everywhere have called this an "alarming trend" that needs to be stopped.

We’re here to tell everyone to calm the fuck down. First of all, the beauty standards embodied in Snapchat filters aren't new or groundbreaking in any way. Hearing that people wish they had smoother skin and plumper lips doesn't exactly strike terror into my heart.

It's not like people are out here demanding that plastic surgeons attach a pair of puppy dog ears to their head permanently, you know? Personally I would find that much more disturbing.

Sure, we can (and should) criticize Snapchat filters for epitomizing Eurocentric beauty standards by turning people into lighter-skinned and thinner-nosed versions of themselves. But this is far from a novel phenomenon, and unrealistic beauty standards are arguably a problem endemic throughout all of society — not just Snapchat.

And while excessive Facetuning and Photoshopping can certainly reinforce unrealistic beauty standards, digital tools often do more to help than to harm.

"The ability to try on new looks is very empowering," said board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Gregory Buford. "If you wonder what you'd look like with clearer skin, or with a new hairstyle, you can use Photoshop to try it first to see if you like it."

According to Dr. Buford, digitally altering your photos is only really dangerous if done in excess. "It's like drinking a glass of wine,” he explained. “One glass of wine is probably a good thing, but a whole bottle is not. And it’s the same thing with these filters."

The only real problem Dr. Buford pointed out is that Snapchat filters and Facetuned selfies often set patients up with unrealistic expectations for what he can feasibly achieve with plastic surgery. "Sometimes they'll bring in a photo that they Photoshopped where they changed their appearance to an extent that surgery cannot," he said. "And then I have to tell them that I can only do 50 percent of this, not 100 percent."

At the end of the day though, there's absolutely NOTHING wrong with wanting to get plastic surgery — even if you were only inspired to do so because you thought your cheekbones looked snatched with the flower crown filter on Snapchat.

People will say shit like, "Why can't you love yourself the way you are?" And yet, we decided that it's practically a rite of passage for every single middle schooler to get braces so they can have straighter teeth — and I haven't heard ANYONE suggest that people just need to "learn to love" their crooked teeth.

Folks are treating this trend like it's some earth-shattering disaster that will plunge us all into a Hunger Games-style dystopia — Kim, there's people that are dying. We have literal Nazis marching through the streets and family separations at the border, okay? Let's focus on the important issues and stop whining about what grown women choose to do with their bodies.

@nian_hu