Social Media Filters: Desirable or Damaging?

Social media has come a long way since the early days of Snapchat and the playful “dog filter” that was once seen as nothing more than a harmless bit of fun shared between friends. With technology constantly evolving and the ever-growing obsession with creating a picture-perfect “Instagram persona”, there has been a clear shift in the purpose of photo filters. Beauty standards online are higher than ever, and it can be difficult to tell the difference between a natural photo and one that has been filtered or edited with a photoshop app.

So, just how damaging are photo filters on Instagram and other social media platforms? Let’s explore the rise in unrealistic beauty standards, the pros and cons of photo editing, and the connection between social media filters and cosmetic treatments.

The rise of photo filters on social media

Over the past decade, we’ve adapted to lives that revolve around the screens on our gadgets, laptops and mobile phones. Social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat have become an essential part of our everyday routine. On the one hand, social media is a fantastic way of keeping in touch with friends, family and colleagues. It connects us with people all over the world and provides limitless professional and personal opportunities that once were not possible.

The downside of social media is that with so much time spent snapping and posting photos, it’s no wonder that many of us begin to analyse our appearance and compare ourselves to others online. Whereas we used to fuss over the mirror image of ourselves, technology and social platforms have turned our desires to appear more attractive online. Instagram alone has dozens of photo filter options and offers a quick fix in everything from smoother skin, longer eyelashes and fuller lips. It’s almost too easy to roll out of bed and still appear fresh and glowing to your online peers.

Unrealistic beauty standards

Celebrities, reality shows and social media influencers have all played a crucial role in creating a flawless online persona that isn’t quite what it seems. A fundamental problem with social media is the cultural standards associated with the platforms and the potential construction of unrealistic norms. This controversial issue stems from years of “airbrushing” and “beautifying” that advertisers have used for decades. While it has always been a cause for concern, the invention of smartphones and social media apps has added fuel to an already problematic fire.

A particularly vulnerable group are young, impressionable girls, especially those who are growing up in the era of tech products. While the occasional photo filter or Instagram or Snapchat may seem harmless, repeated use, particularly from a young age, creates a new normal for how children think they should look. A study conducted earlier this year alarmingly revealed that 85% of young girls have already edited their appearance online by the time they are 13 years old.

Social media filters and cosmetic treatments

The increasing popularity of photo editing on social media has had a considerable impact on the interest in cosmetic enhancements. A survey conducted in 2017 found that 55% of plastic surgeons reported requests from patients to improve their appearance in selfies. Even more alarming is that many patients are taking heavily filtered images to their surgeons to showcase their desired results.

With the aesthetics industry insufficiently regulated in the UK, the number of individuals seeking treatments from underqualified practitioners is also a major cause for concern. Poorly trained aestheticians are unlikely to adhere to the high standards necessary to administer procedures safely and effectively.

The importance of seeking professional treatment

If you are interested in seeking aesthetic treatments, it is imperative to do your research and undergo a thorough consultation with a qualified medical professional before committing to any procedure. Experienced aestheticians are highly trained in patient care and the importance of responsible practices in aesthetic medicine.

As pressure amongst young adults rises and the rise of Instagram models and social media influencers continues to skyrocket, many more individuals are presenting to aesthetic clinics for treatments that are hugely disproportionate to their existing facial features. Both surgical and non-surgical procedures should be carefully contemplated, with all aspects of the process considered before a decision is made. It’s important to note that those with pre-existing mental health problems or significant self-esteem issues are highly vulnerable to post-procedure struggles.

A vital aspect of the consultation process is conducting a thorough mental health assessment. Your practitioner should know the right questions to ask to understand why you wish to undergo treatment and identify any significant warning signs that indicate why you may not be a suitable candidate. These precautions are put in place by clinics to safeguard their patients’ best interest and protect against the dangers of unrealistic beauty standards.

At Acquisition Aesthetics, we provide gold-standard aesthetics training for medical professionals, including doctors, dentists and nurses. We’re pleased to offer clinic-quality aesthetic treatments to the model patients who attend our training sessions. To find out more about becoming a model patient, call us on 0203 514 8757 or email us at

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