What effect do selfies have on girls’ self-esteem?

In case you were wondering exactly how much time your daughter spends posting selfies online, just spend 10 minutes on Facebook or other social media. There you will find that self-portraits have become an integral part of most people’s online presence. Surely such statements seem exaggerated, until you try to get the perfect photo yourself and realize how complicated the process of achieving the perfect selfie is.


For most women, it takes about 7 attempts to create the desired selfie, while celebrities like Kim Kardashian say that there is a need between 15 and 20. Of course, add to the process and filters and make-up. Also, there are a number of mobile applications that can lead to much more drastic changes such as changes in bone structure, reduction of the waist, removal of facial imperfections, etc.


Of course, selfies can be fun and frivolous. However, psychologist Dr. Alexandra Hamlet also recognizes the dark side of practice – when photos become a  criterion for beauty and cost . Dr. Hamlet believes that because of all the makeup, fixes, dozens of filters and many attempts at a perfect photo, girls are starting to feel like they will never meet society’s expectations. This is where the danger to a teenager’s self-esteem comes from  .


We are so used to worrying about how girls will be influenced by the thousands of fake images of models in magazines, on television and on the Internet. Now, however, young people are the models – they have their own image that they can process and manipulate beyond recognition. This self- processing ability can pave the way for self-criticism , especially as teens try to enhance their photos while comparing themselves to their peers online. This is why mental health experts are concerned about the dangerous link between low self-esteem and overconfidence in a positive reaction to selfies.


In search of perfection

If you’ve ever told your daughter that she’s beautiful and doesn’t need to change anything about her appearance, the message she gets when she opens Snapchat, Instagram, or Facebook is completely different. Almost no one on social media shows their true selves – literally. Before, photography was the last and final step, but now our society has the skills and technology to change that – photo processing is expected, and in the eyes of young girls it is mandatory.


Dr. Hamlet admits that some filters are fun and can distort images in interesting ways, but there are many others – the so-called beauty filters on Instagram and Snapchat. These filters are used almost instinctively by most users, which means that girls get used to seeing their perfect selves in photos.


There are many other applications that teenagers can find on the Internet that provide many more opportunities for significant changes in appearance . Facetune is a popular app, but there are a number of others that can take selfies to a whole new level.


They will help you hide your problem skin, change the structure of your face or make you look taller. These image enhancement options can seem confusing, especially when girls are criticized for their appearance on a daily basis, as, of course, they themselves criticize the body and face of their peers.


Too many comparisons

Often, teens’ self-esteem can be shaken to the core when they begin to compare themselves too much with other people, which is ultimately the essence of social media. According to a 2017 study conducted by Wang, Yang & Haigh and published in the scientific journal Telematics and Informatics , regular selfie screening leads to low self-esteem and reduced life satisfaction . Another 2013 study, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking by Meier & Gray, found that girls who spend most of their time looking at photos on Facebook report higher levels ofdissatisfaction with your weight .


Dr. Hamlet explains that even when a girl’s posts on social media receive a lot of likes and positive comments, she can still feel insecure. This is especially true, especially when the teenager already has low self-esteem and uses the positive attention from Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook to self-regulate negative emotions. This is because people tend to be very consistent in their moods . That’s why men and women who feel sad would rather listen to sad music than watch a comedy. Similarly, if they are critical and pessimistic about themselves, they will usually need more than one successful selfie to feel good.


Effects on mental health

Although social media may not cause mental illness, it can certainly contribute to exacerbating pre-existing problems and symptoms. In other words, if some girls have difficulties, the negative influence of Facebook, Instagram and others can bring them closer to the diagnostic limit.


“If you’re depressed or anxious, you’re more likely to compare yourself to others or underestimate yourself. It’s possible to try even harder to catch up with others, which in itself is impossible,  ” explains Dr. Hamlet.


The problems caused by selfies even attract the attention of a number of professional plastic surgery magazines, which report a significant increase in the number of young people seeking the services of plastic surgeons. According to a 2018 study by the American Academy of Plastic Facial and Reconstructive Surgery, about 42% of surgeons have performed procedures to help their patients create better selfies for social media.


There is even a term for the condition of children who focus too much on their appearance because of social media – selfie dysmorphia or Snapchat dysmorphia. Although this is not a valid diagnosis (not present in DSM 5), this term is used to refer to the growing number of people who suffer from dysmorphia or strongly believe in the idea that there is something initially wrong or wrong with their appearance due to perfection. an image generated by social media.


The term itself is reminiscent of a diagnosis that is completely real – that of a body dysmorphic disorder . Individuals suffering from a dysmorphic disorder focus all their attention on a defect that they perceive as threatening, even disfiguring. For example, their nose or ears are too large, have skin imperfections or underdeveloped muscles. These shortcomings can be imaginary, insignificant or greatly exaggerated.


Many teenagers will not develop mental illness or even so-called selfie dysmorphia. They can exist somewhere along the spectrum without approaching the limit of diagnosis.


Be more aware of social media

Parents who want to provide a healthy counterbalance to the tensions arising from social media can start by reassessing how they themselves use social media. Make sure you don’t discuss the photos you post or see too much, and don’t want your kids to take pictures often. Taking pictures from time to time is acceptable, of course, but emphasize how important it is for kids to experience every moment to the fullest. This reinforces the idea that presence is enough.


Dr. Hamlet also recommends that parents encourage girls to be more aware of how they use their mobile devices. She advises mothers and fathers to ask the following questions when they notice that teenagers are touching their phones: ” What emotional state are you in? Are you anxious? Is the fear of negative feedback motivating you to use your phone so often or the pleasure of using it?” social media? “. Of course, these questions are only examples. Parents can change the rules to suit the specific situation and to adapt to the character of the child.


Reaching for a mobile device so that girls can check what’s going on on social media is likely to increase anxiety. The same goes for sadness.


Building self-confidence

Prioritizing the appearance of girls is not something new for today’s society, but thanks to selfies, young women are bombarded with messages about how highly valued perfect skin, symmetrical face and weak body are. That is why it is extremely important for parents to make sure that girls realize how much more important actions and intellect are than appearance. Mothers and fathers should not stop complimenting their daughters, but they can also try to praise the achievements and diligence of the girls

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