Launched only 10 years ago on July 8, 2011, Snapchat has grown to over 46 million users worldwide. From middle schoolers to influencers, Snapchat is part of life now.
And of course, anyone can see why. It provided an easy and effective way to communicate, while also stimulating the visual part of the brain. Photos can be sent at the click of a button, and there is limited accountability since they are deleted seconds after opening.
While there is more than one problem with Snapchat’s methods in general, there is one in particular that often goes unnoticed: filters.
Now, the term “filters” is used very loosely, since that is what everyone calls all the fun options on Snapchat’s photo setting. To be more specific, however, filters are technically only the frames and artwork that can be added to the snaps (hearts, color tint, etc.).
What actually is the problem here is called “lenses.” Lenses are often just referred to as filters but are in fact very different. Lenses are augmented reality, changing your face shape, eyes, hair color, or adding ears and the like.
Lenses may seem fun at first. They change your voice, make your mouth super big and your eyes tiny. Hilarious, right? We have all gotten a laugh from some of these lenses. After all, it seems harmless.
The true issue arises when some of these lenses make small changes. Changes that make your nose a little smaller or slimmer, chisels your jawline, make your eyes bigger, etc. These minuscule alterations have some damaging effects on an individual’s self-perception.
The most common example is that lenses can cause peopleto be self-conscious of their actual appearance. This results in low self-esteem and depression, often accompanied by only posting photos of themselves with a lens on, or not posting at all.
For example, one may see how these lenses give them a huge confidence boost. Undoubtedly, they would want to appear how the lens depicts them. However, as soon as they take the lens off, they may be very aware of their thick jaw, big nose, or other imperfections.
This kind of thinking can lead to a serious medical condition, known as body dysmorphic disorder. BDD is where one becomes so obsessed with a perceived flaw in their appearance, they may go to extreme lengths to fix it.
The key term here is perceived. Most flaws that individuals suffering from BDD obsess over are insignificant and tiny to the outside observer. But so many people using Snapchat lenses have now seen themselves in an augmented state of “perfection” that they struggle to accept themselves.
So many individuals have developed BDD from Snapchat lenses, that it was given its own sub-category: Snapchat dysmorphia.
Now, I’m not saying that Snapchat lenses are the ultimate cause and should be banned. On the contrary, they are fun and can bring friends closer laughing about them and sharing them.
Just be warned as you, as a user, take selfies and photos. How do you see yourself? Would you be equally excited to post that image if it didn’t have a lens? If you’re not sure, maybe take some time to show some self-love.
No one is perfect, even the models you see online or in magazines are heavily edited. Love yourself, because we are all unique and beautiful, with and without Snapchat lenses.