Vanity, though sometimes frowned upon, isn’t new to our species and in fact it can produce some very helpful byproducts. An elevated self-perception has been known to trick one’s audience into thinking the same and the ‘selfie’ phenomenon has undoubtedly pulled the very same wool over our peer-pressure-prone eyes, garnering the pretty or the ‘perceived as pretty’ countless followers, fame and if not fortune then at least free stuff. Is plastic surgery for the purpose of a perfect ‘selfie’ a step too far or just a logical continuation of what’s been a less digital way of life for ages?
‘Before and after’ surgery shots of your favourite actor aren’t a surprise to anyone. We’ve accepted that Hollywood’s unrealistic levels of perfection may more often that not come at the price of going under the knife and many who can afford to follow suit, do. Actors, musicians and public figures are rewarded for their surgery sacrifices with celebrity, complimentary goods and lots and lots of cash so is it all that shocking that social media-aware civilians trying to make a quick buck, get invited to all the parties or find a partner online would want to put their best face forward at all times to enjoy the same perks of ‘perfection’? Reality TV producer Triana Lavey went under the knife for this very reason, telling ABC News – “Your social media presence is just as important as your real-life presence. Your selfie is your head shot so you can reinvent yourself every day with your iPhone. It’s a legitimate form of promoting yourself.”
A recent article in Stylecaster reported a rise in facial plastic surgery as a direct result of our self-obsessed ‘selfie’ culture. In a poll taken by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, a select 2,700 of the organisation’s participating members found that around one in three surgeons had requests for facial surgeries in order to present better on social media. No longer the domain of the middle-aged, 2013 saw a 50% increase on the number of facial plastic surgeries and injectible procedures performed on under 30’s.
According to metro.co.uk, an approximate 35 million selfies are taken in Britain a month so the ‘shoot and share’ culture is an enormous factor in how the world now networks. Edward Farrior, MD, President of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery says “These images are often the first impressions young people put out there to prospective friends, romantic interests and employers and our patients want to put their best face forward.”
While this is a worrying trend that absolutely scrapes the bottom of the barrel when it comes to substance vs superficiality, social media platforms like Instagram are in some ways just an (exaggerated) extension of how we have been gauging attractiveness and creating social hierarchy all along, sadly. The big difference here is that our self-presentations have never before been so malleable. But be warned – if you determine your love interests and trend following based purely on the palm-sized screen you’re probably holding right now, just make sure you’re prepared to possibly see something very different when you come face to face with the unfiltered version.