The “Snapchat dysmorphia” phenomenon

Remember the days when people would bring photos of celebrities to the plastic surgeon’s office and ask for Angelina Jolie’s lips or Brad Pitt’s jawline? That’s not the case anymore. Now, people want to look like themselves — heavily edited or filtered versions of themselves.

Doctors have spotted a trend of people bringing in their own selfies, usually edited with a smartphone application, and asking to look more like their photos, according to an article recently published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery by researchers from Boston University School of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology.

The desire to physically change one’s appearance to look more like you do after having applied a digital filter on Snapchat or Instagram could be a sign that someone is are suffering from an underlying mental health issue, which scientists have branded “Snapchat dysmorphia”.

Being inundated by these edited images on a regular basis can take a toll on people adding that looking at a photo of yourself and not seeing the same thing reflected in the mirror or an unedited photo can make people unhappy.

What does it mean for us marketers?

This is the perfect example of the real and digital world coming together. Or better the digital you affecting the real you. Of course this trend can be dangerous when applied to beauty and other industries (imagine if you drive your car in real life in the same way that you drive your Camaro in GTA for PlayStation) but this phenomenon should give us an indication of how exposed and sensitive we all are and how powerful the new communications can be for our lives. Are AR filters going to change the beauty industry? Probably not (at least in the nearest future) but for sure they’ll have an impact on the perception of it because somehow the digital you has somewhat become more exposed than the physical you.