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Mental Health

Snapchat Filters: The Cause of My “Selfie Dysmorphia”

Opening Snapchat, I am always greeted by the camera faced directly at me, whether I've just rolled out of bed or am out to dinner with friends.  Next to the camera button lies at the bottom right corner of the screen lies a small happy face indicating immediate access to an array of “lenses” that allow me to change my current appearance. Depending on the circumstances, a quick click on this button makes my front camera greeting a little more friendly. 

The Snapchat facial lenses provide a range of options: you can morph your face into the shape of an alien, add a butterfly blush to your cheeks, or even add an entire digital makeup look all with the tap of a finger. These appearance altering lenses have caused a warped perception of our  “reality,” blurring the line between what is real and the life perceived through the lens of a filter. I quickly became obsessed with this lens feature; it was so easy to quickly improve my appearance without having to do anything physically demanding. In fact, my obsession with this feature got so extreme that I could not post anything without having a filter on my face. The constant altering of my appearance caused me to develop an obsession with wanting to look a certain way: the way I looked with a filter.

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My go-to lens filter was called “butterflyyy” by alexia. After opening the app, I would immediately sort through the filters until I found it.  My updated appearance featured plump lips, low hanging eyes with long eyelashes, and a mix of freckles, blush, and butterflies on my cheeks. The ability to quickly add these features to my appearance made feel confident, and this action became routine. I was becoming someone physically different; I could not see myself without the filter. I began to use this filter so much that my friends would tease me for always posting with the filter on.   

It became impossible for me to see myself as “pretty” unless I had this filter on, and thus my normal appearance became one of my biggest insecurities. Seeing myself in pictures without this filter made me feel like something was wrong with how I looked. I thought that I was the only person experiencing this until I stumbled upon a TikTok video describing my exact issue. The TikTok shared a girl’s experience dealing with the same inability to view herself as “pretty” unless she had a filter on her face. She referred to this issue as “body dysmorphia.” Scrolling through the video’s comments, I found that many other girls were also dealing with the same issue– unable to post a picture or video without having a filter applied to it. 

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After dealing with this insecurity for months, I soon began to drift away from the use of this filter, as I found that it only made me feel worse about my appearance. Although difficult at first, I slowly began to take pictures of myself whenever I felt my best, allowing me to appreciate the moments where my confidence was at its highest. Learning to love my natural appearance, rather than resorting to filters, allowed me to become more confident and comfortable in my own skin. It is still enjoyable to find new filters and see how I look with them, but I now possess a more positive relationship with their purpose.  


Lotus Vu

UCSB '23

hi!! my name is lotus and I am a second year student at ucsb!
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