The other day I fell down the YouTube rabbit hole, and stumbled upon a video called “I Got Surgery to Look Like My Facetune and Snapchat Selfies.”
I originally ignored it, watched a few makeup tutorials, cooking videos about recipes I was never going to make; but the video kept popping up on my recommended list. I gave in and clicked “play.”
I was one minute into the video when I heard what a doctor said about the women coming to her office coming for plastic surgery or a facelift to look like their filters: “It represents a healthier version of body image.”
I paused the video in disbelief — did she really just say that?
I continued watching, annoyed at these girls who were nitpicking everything about themselves. They were obsessively editing their pictures, even though there was nothing wrong with the way they looked — how could this doctor possibly say this is healthy? And then I thought to myself, I do the exact same thing.
I scrolled through my Instagram, realizing there wasn’t a single picture of myself I hadn’t edited. I’m a makeup artist, and I show off my work on others and myself and in the beauty industry, looks are everything. If my makeup is amazing that day, I don’t leave the house until I get the one. Once I pick the lucky winner, I smooth out some texture, maybe zap away an unwelcomed zit.
But the closer I look at the pictures, the more I start to notice flaws. The biggest insecurity is my lips, which I Facetune to fix or pose a certain way so no one can point it out in the comments. The crazy thing is, you’d have to look closely to even notice it. Although I’ve always loved my lips — they’re full and the perfect size for my face —they were left slightly uneven from numbing medication from a wisdom tooth surgery. Just like these girls I was judging, I too have thought about bringing a picture in of myself to a doctor’s office and having them inject my lips until they were to my liking.
Before, we had magazines and celebrities to compare ourselves to, and now? We have real-life women in our feeds constantly reminding us that we’re not good enough. My self-esteem isn’t exactly low, but it’s not exactly high. If you read my flat tummy tea article, you can get a little insight. But I do feel that with social media platforms like Instagram, Tumblr, and Snapchat, I have days where I feel totally worthless. I even have a few women that I follow just because I want to look like them. With countless apps where we get to see the lives of other people, it’s impossible to not be hard on ourselves. In fact, Instagram has been rated the “most dangerous” social media app for mental health.
In 2017 alone, there were around 229,000 cosmetic surgeries performed on teenagers aged 13 to 19. You read that right — girls as young as 13 years old are having surgery. Plastic surgery isn’t going anywhere and by no means am I bashing the women who get it done. However, we need to acknowledge the hand that social media and filter apps have to play when it comes to the influx of surgery; it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Because it makes no sense to live in a society that tells you to both love yourself yet change yourself at the same exact time.
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Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.