How far would you go to get the perfect proflie pic?
Last weekend I went to a bar with my girlfriends, and had a night so miserable we all wished we had stayed home in our sweat pants. The music was dismal, the drinks were over priced, and the guys were creepier than an Alfred Hitchcock movie. As we all whined and complained during the cab ride home, one of my friends piped in, “At least we got some good pictures, so it will look like we had a good time.”
This need to prove your social clout with constant photo-documentation has created a daunting pressure for people to always look their best best when they leave the house. We’ve all been tagged in unflattering pictures (that are seen by literally HUNDREDS of people) that make our skin look shiny, our smiles look crooked and bodies look about 20 pounds heavier. Who knew a camera could add so many extra chins?
This has many opting to get plastic surgery to improve their “social media” image. According to a study done by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery there was a 31 percent increase in requests for surgery as a result of social media photo sharing in 2012.
“I can not believe the number of people who are coming in searching to improve their image. Many patients see their images online – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and realize they have no control of an image once its out there in cyberspace. We are seeing and hearing about this trend all the time. As social media continues to play an increasingly large role in how consumers view themselves, patients are becoming more self-critical,” said Dr. Ed Williams.
In fact, social media has had such an impact on plastic surgery, a doctor created the Facetime Facelift specifically for patients who don’t like the way they look while video chatting. But New-York based plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Pearlman says social media isn’t creating new insecurities — it’s just highlighting ones that already exist.
“We’re a visual society and Facebook is certainly prevalent, which may cause a little bit of an issue because it’s all about posting pictures. For the people who don’t know you, they’re identifying you only by your pictures and you may not want your 500 Facebook friends to know you by your big nose,” said Dr. Pearlman. “But I don’t think Facebook is going to create the issue. I think that the person had the issue before, and it just magnifies it. I don’t think someone discovers they have a nose they don’t like through posting pictures on Facebook, I think they knew that already.”
This value we place on our online image doesn’t stop at just social media sites. With more and more people gravitating towards Internet matchmaking, the way they look in their profile pictures determines what kind of mates they attract. There are even cell phone apps like Tinder and Grinder, in which a person is picked by local singles in their area based solely on how they look in one picture.
“I worked on a girl that was going to appear on Dateline [a dating website], and she asked if I could do surgery for better online pictures, so she could get more dates. She wanted dynamite pictures for her social media pages, so we worked on getting that look for her,” says Los Angeles-based plastic surgeon Dr. Richard Ellenbogen. “Internet dating and Facebook dating has really changed how people approach what they want to look like. People come in and show me their Facebook pictures, and ask what they can do to look hotter, and we work backwards from that. I use computer software to show them what they’re going to look like, and to make sure they don’t look stupid.”
I scoured the RealSelf community to see what real people had to say about the pressures of social media impacting their decisions to get plastic surgery.
Scroll down to read about their cosmetic quests for the perfect profile picture.
Stories From The Community
“I used to cringe whenever I was tagged in a photo in facebook that was a side view. I felt like all you could see was my huge nose.”– Uglynomore
“I never liked the shape of my nose, especially in profile. I always delete pictures where I was caught in profile and hate when people drag me in pictures where I am displayed from “unfavourable angle” – I ask them to delete those pics from Facebook immediately. And in general I am very self-consious about my nose and about cameras when I am at some party: don’t want to be caught on the background with my profile.”– Manacosha
“I am 58 and recently widowed but not ready to retire socially. I had a sagging neck area due to weight loss, but still somewhat attractive. I decided to go with Lifestyle Lift at the center in Jacksonville, Fl., and am extremely happy I have done so. So now I am 3 months out of the surgery, about totally healed and my life has changed so much. I decided to join an online dating website for singles over 50 and my dates have been over scheduled to say the least.”– Spirit64
“For 5 years through high school I was bullied terribly for my nose. I mean I could not walk down a path between classes without having names called out at me. I spent half of my high school trying to be invisible so no one would notice me and call me names. It wasn’t one kid, it was about 15 kids, impossible to avoid them all. I had terrible depression as a teen, I dreaded every day that I had to leave the house. So 7 years post high school, although I now don’t care what any of those kids think or say anymore, I still suffer anxiety in social situations. I am sick of looking in the mirror, or at profile photographs of myself and having a constant reminder of how horrible that time of my life was. My sense of self worth was so low that I thought of killing myself almost everyday. I am sick of feeling anxious every time I start a new job, meet new friends, or when I am dating.”– TeganBee
Does social media make you more aware of your body flaws?
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