Is photoshop bad for our mental health?

Shrinking waists, enhancing thigh gaps and slimming down upper arms.

It used to be exclusive to major publications. Those blemish-free faces and chiselled features. My question now is, in a digital era where these apps are available to the masses, how are these retouched images affecting our mental health?

When I open Instagram I am fully aware that I am about to compare myself to whatever is on the screen. Those unrealistic and absurd images. Carol Gilligan a feminist psychologist conducted a study on different media channels. The study shows that confidence in girls decreases as they grow older. She says: “Of the 72% of the girls who show confidence in sixth grade, only 55% show self-confidence when they reach tenth grade.” All down to that one word: photoshop.

In 2014, Lena Dunham was pictured on the cover of Vogue. Many realised that her body was photoshopped. Once the real images were released, the comparison proved that her hips, face and arms were made thinner. Other celebrities such as Keira Knightly, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lady Gaga, Kerry Washington and Ashley Benson have all publicly bashed magazines for retouching images that they felt were perfect the way they were.

Photoshop had its time and now it’s over. It’s like the bad ex who is still trying to hang on. We need to stop with these fictitious representations of women’s bodies. No media outlet needs to be drowning in digitally enhanced images and trust me, you don’t need to cut off a woman’s arm to advertise a product. Photoshop is actually giving us anxiety, encouraging young women to fear stretch marks and cellulite.

Indeed, for women between the ages of 17 and 24, Anorexia Nervosa has a fatality rate 12 times higher than all other causes of death. Photoshop and its allies also have a very high emotional cost for individuals and families raising teenage girls. Dear advertising agencies, consumers and the monsters behind those free apps, stop setting unrealistic goals.

Over time, distorted images reduce self-confidence, cause low self-esteem and feelings of depression and anxiety. Jill E. Daino, a licensed clinical social worker says: “A common example is the media’s strong focus on how quickly celebrities “bounce back” from their post-baby bodies. It perpetuates a damaging myth that other women are failing if they don’t lose that pregnancy weight stat.”

Photoshop is detrimental to our mental health. My solution? To introduce a new hashtag. #Photoshopped should be added to any picture that has been even remotely altered. Maybe then we would have a better understanding of what is real. Just an idea but one that could be very effective. Readers, don’t let false advertising destroy your self-confidence. There are greater obstacles to worry about such as the glass ceiling and the pay gap.

To Read Next:

The 3 most successful ways to overcome relationship anxiety

Four ways TV harms your mental health

How to stop being a people pleaser

Author: Elizabeth Bennett

Elizabeth Bennett is a teacher based in England, she is obsessed with the gym and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. On her weekends off though, she can be found exploring and travelling the world.

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