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As you read this, children as young as 13 are being exposed to content from celebrities and influencers on Instagram that show the effects of cosmetic surgery and cosmetic procedures.
If young people see videos and images every day from online personalities who position themselves as relatable and aspirational, but who have been cosmetically or surgically enhanced, those images begin to look normal. And this normalisation can lead to an increased pressure to look the same way, which can cause anxiety, depression, lack of confidence, body dysmorphia and other mental health-related issues. Indeed, the 2017 #StatusofMind report from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that of the top five social media platforms, Instagram has the most negative impact on young people’s mental health.
Together with Save Face, we are launching a petition to urge the UK government to require Instagram to do more to protect young people from having unfiltered access to content from influencers and celebrities that can undermine their self-esteem and stimulate interest in surgical procedures that are unlikely to be suitable for them.
Ashton Collins, director at Save Face said: “It is extremely important that social media companies take all necessary measures to protect young, impressionable people from being targeted by posts that prey on insecurities and set unrealistic and distorted expectations.
“From our experience, these procedures have become so trivialised on social media that they are now considered as beauty treatments and not medical procedures that can cause serious complications."
We want to work with the UK government and Instagram to find a practical and effective long-term solution.
Our ideas are:
Instagram could implement an age restriction of 21 on content from verified ‘blue tick’ celebrities and influencers who advertise, feature or demonstrate the effects of cosmetic surgery and procedures.
Account holders could place a sensitive content warning over specific images that depict cosmetic enhancements, which can only be lifted by users who are aged 21 and over.
Until the legislation is changed, a dedicated hashtag #CosmeticFilter should be introduced for account holders to voluntarily use to let followers know that the image they are posting advertises, features or demonstrates the effects of cosmetic surgery and procedures.
We’re launching this petition after our survey, with Save Face, discovered 23 per cent of people who see these kinds of images report feeling more negatively about their own appearance as a result. This figure dramatically increased with the survey participants’ age - simply put, the younger you are, the more likely it is for cosmetic enhancement imagery to have a negative influence on how you feel about your appearance.
For example, 38 per cent of 21-25-year-olds and 36 per cent of 26-30-year-olds stated that images that promoted or demonstrated the effects of cosmetic surgery or cosmetic procedures had a negative influence on them, compared to 16 per cent of 45-49-year-olds and 13 per cent of 50-year-olds.
Since September 2019, Instagram announced that it will be hiding some posts for under-18s, with a focus on posts about cosmetic procedures and diet products.
These changes will also apply to Facebook. However, when users sign up to Instagram, they are not asked for a date of birth. Rather, users simply have to check a box confirming they are over 18.
While this move showed progression, the UK government and social media sites that operate within the UK should be more responsible for the negative impacts that the platforms create.
A recent Girlguiding survey revealed that 45% of young girls regularly use filters or apps to edit their images. Dr Luke Evans MP has proposed a bill which suggests that anyone using filters or editing apps on their images should declare these. Sign our petition below to encourage parliament to change the legislation to hold these social networks accountable.
Q. Have you ever seen any adverts on social media for cosmetic surgery or cosmetic procedures?
Yes - 43.57%
No - 45.27%
Don’t know - 11.16%
Q. Do you follow any accounts on social media that post images or videos that are not marked as promotional content, but nevertheless feature subjects who have undergone cosmetic surgery or cosmetic procedures?
Yes - 26.04%
No - 59.09%
Don’t know - 14.88%
Q. Do you think seeing adverts, paid promotional posts or other posts featuring cosmetic enhancements have had an influence on how you feel about your appearance? (817 responses)
Yes - a positive influence - 4.53%
Yes - a negative influence - 23.38%
Maybe - 13.10%
No influence - 48.10%
Don't know - 10.89%
Breakdown by age bracket for those who stated that seeing adverts, paid promotional posts or other posts featuring cosmetic enhancements had a negative influence on how they felt about their appearance:
21 - 25 - 38%
26 - 29 - 36%
30 - 34 - 29%
35 - 39 - 23%
40 - 44 - 17%
45 - 49 - 16%
50 - 54 - 13%
55 - 59 - 13%
60 - 64 - 17%
65 and older - 13%
Q. Do you think any images or videos (paid or unpaid) from celebrities or influencers on social media that promotes or demonstrates the effects of cosmetic surgery or cosmetic procedures should be age restricted?
No - 7.81%
Maybe - 8.71%
Don't know - 9.15%
Yes - should only be shown to those aged 16+ - 8.37%
Yes - should only be shown to those aged 18+ - 31.25%
Yes - should only be shown to those aged 21+ - 34.71%
Q. Do you think that an equivalent of #ad should be used by celebrities and influencers to declare if they have had cosmetic (surgical or non-surgical) work or enhancements if they are promoting any kind of health, well-being or beauty treatments and products on social media?
Yes - 52.03%
No - 16.14%
Maybe - 17.38%
Don't know - 14.45%
“It makes me see things that I wish I could do to myself too, like lip enhancements.”
“These images make me feel like I need to look like that or have certain procedures in order to look better.”
“They [the images] make me question whether I should get surgery myself - they make me feel self-conscious.”
Show your support by signing our petition and sharing it with the hashtag #CosmeticFilter.
Instagram: @save_face and @cosmetic_surgery_solicitors
Twitter: @SaveFaceUK and @cosmeticclaims
Save Face is a government-approved register of accredited practitioners who carry out non-surgical cosmetic procedures such as dermal fillers and anti-wrinkle injections. Entry to the register is subject to each practitioner and their premises being assessed against our rigorous standards for accreditation.
For more information visit www.saveface.co.uk
If you have been affected by a cosmetic enhancement that has gone wrong due to medical negligence, you may be able to make a claim for compensation. Operating on a no win, no fee basis, get in touch with us today - call 0808 256 1296 or complete our online enquiry form to request a call back