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Dishonesty of editing app usage heightens insecurities

Seya Sawiris
The presence of editing app usage on social media platforms worsens insecurities by promoting unrealistic standards. Several editing apps have been created in order to retouch images, but they all have left the same negative impact.

Kensington Palace released an image of Kate Middleton and her three children in honor of  Mother’s Day March 10. The picture was later revealed to be edited and run through Adobe Photoshop twice, according to ABC News

When I first saw the image, I could not spot the edits. However, as I inspected closer, I slowly realized the countless changes she had made in areas such as her children’s arms, hair and details in the background. I wondered if the Princess of Wales photoshopped her pictures, how many others do too?

I was shocked by the results that over 40% of social media users edit their pictures using various apps like Facetune and Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, according to the National Library of Medicine. Specific edits can include smoothing one’s skin and reshaping body features.

Additionally, by using editing apps, people can easily fit beauty standards by altering their features to make themselves look idyllic. From what I’ve seen happen to many individuals around me, is that when they looks different from what is promoted on their feed, they can turn to edit apps to alter their appearance to fit the norm. This is a domino effect of viewers altering their pictures to fit the standards of unrealistic, edited pictures.

The widespread usage of editing apps makes sense given that celebrities and influences promote unrealistic beauty standards by not disclosing their use of editing apps. Teenagers are unaware of the precise standards they are adapting to. They believe they, too, must change their appearance to fit in. 

According to research conducted by Dove, nine in 10 children are exposed to toxic beauty standards on social media apps, with one in two children reporting that they harm their mental health. When celebrities and influencers are dishonest about their appearance, they perpetuate a fake beauty standard —  a standard in which acne and stretch marks don’t exist and having a tooth or thigh gap is not attractive.

As a teenager who regularly uses social media, not being aware of the deception that exists regarding appearance sometimes gets the best of me. I feel pressured to fit these unrealistic beauty standards and watch others around me succumb to editing apps. 

According to the National Library of Medicine, 40% of users edit their pictures, and while photoshopped posts dominate social media platforms, they aren’t always noticeable.

As a result, I constantly question what is real and what is fake online. We can’t always distinguish between those who edit their features in pictures and those who don’t. Consequently, we doubt what natural beauty is and develop a twisted mindset of what beauty standards are because our understanding of what is beautiful is based on potentially fake images. 

Furthermore, when people develop the habit of running their pictures through editing apps, they promote the idea that one must get rid of their insecurities to feel comfortable posting online. Individuals have lost the confidence to post an image without erasing their insecurities.

This mindset is especially detrimental to teenagers. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 90% of children aged 13-17 have Instagram, indicating social media’s growing influence on teens. Being exposed to this toxic aspect of social media, where beauty standards aren’t realistic, when one is still developing could result in children questioning their self-worth. According to the National Library of Medicine, instilling appearance-based insecurities at a young age increases susceptibility to mental health disorders and could harden long-term self-doubt. 

From my experience, I know that many people have things they don’t like about their appearance, so why do we feel the need to portray ourselves like they do not exist? We shouldn’t need to alter our photo appearance to believe it is good enough to be seen by others. No one is perfect, yet editing apps have made flawlessness attainable.  

We must remember that not everything influencers post is real. I urge you to follow influencers who embrace diversity, authenticity and natural beauty, as they set a positive tone on appearance. Instead of editing pictures before you post them, consider not posting them if you aren’t ready to share them in their natural form. It is normal to dislike how you look in certain photos, but altering your natural appearance will do more harm than good.

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About the Contributor
Seya Sawiris, Reporter
Seya Sawiris ('27) is a Reporter for The Standard in Multimedia Journalism.

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