In recent years, the rise of social media and smartphones has undoubtedly affected the way we look at ourselves, and the way we look at others. At Cosmetic Surgery Solicitors, we are all too aware about the unrealistic standards that the use of selfies perpetuates. In 2019, we launched a petition suggesting that individuals using face editing apps explicitly declare that they are doing so by using a specific hashtag - #CosmeticFilter.
In recent years, we have noticed the negative impact of social media - the combination of reality shows like Love Island, pressures from other users on social media and the prevalence of ‘fix-me’ apps and filters has created an uncomfortable relationship between cosmetic surgery and social media. This feeling is compounded by celebrities using filters and cosmetic surgery to enhance their image, such as Khloe Kardashian’s recent scandal involving highly retouched images.
In 2017, the same year that France banned the use of unhealthily thin catwalk models, brands and advertisers in France were also required by law to add "Photographie retouchée" (edited photograph) to any commercial images that have been digitally altered to make a model look thinner. This cigarette-packet style warning ensures that people viewing these images are aware that they’ve been edited, and the image portrayed is not a naturally attainable look.
In 2020, the UK-based Girlguiding charity surveyed children aged between 11 and 16, and found that almost half (45%) of young girls regularly use filters to enhance how they look in images. It’s easy to see how children who have grown up with the presence of social media will be more likely to be pressurised by the onslaught of ‘perfectly curated’ images in their feeds, and so more likely to use these kinds of filters and image-editing software. While 69% of the survey respondents showed that they were regularly editing their imagery because it is ‘fun and creative’, 43% of girls said they had seen adverts online that made them feel pressured to look different.
Recent studies have shown that selfies distort the look of our noses, and that we’re looking at warped images of our own faces. We are editing images that are not truly accurate to look ever more different.
The Girl Guiding charity is backing a proposed bill from Dr Luke Evans MP, which suggests that anyone using filters or editing apps on their images should declare these.
We are in full support of the recommendation for brands, advertisers and publishers to explicitly specify when an image has been digitally manipulated or airbrushed to look ‘better’. Our 2019 petition is still running, and we are still calling for social media sites to introduce a warning to alert viewers that an image has been edited. While the UK is leading the way in introducing the world’s first online safety laws, which specify that social media sites have a duty of care to their users, there is a long way to go to dispel the idea that images on social media accurately portray a user or their lifestyle.