Millennials are flooding into plastic surgeons’ offices across the country seeking fillers, injections, and full-blown cosmetic surgery to keep up appearances on Instagram and other selfie-inspired social media platforms. A recent report found that there has been a 64 percent increase in aesthetic procedures among people under the age of 30, which experts attribute to the ever-growing obsession with social media.
Photoshopped images of celebrities showing off flawless skin and perfectly plumped lips, not to mention the rising number of “self-made” reality stars boasting millions of followers, is placing undue pressure on the under 30 population to aspire to very unrealistic expectations. Millennials are taking strong measures to eschew sagging skin and wrinkles long before even a single line is permanently etched into their dewy faces—a practice that many physicians are warning will actually result in advanced aging.
Of course who can blame these impressionable youth? After all, splashed across the pages of every magazine are how-tos on taking the perfect selfie, building a killer following, and countless stories of guys and girls whose careers have been shaped by choosing the right angles, filters, and hashtags to chronicle their everyday lives. It would seem that the ingredients for success no longer hinge on talent or smarts, but on beautifully-made selfies.
The trend is not only putting young people at high-risk for advanced aging, it is harboring an environment ripe for bullying and low self-esteem. In January, Glamour magazine dedicated the entire issue to social media, showcasing rail-thin models with impeccably flawless features and 500,000 or more followers as women to emulate on social. In the same breath, the magazine shared stats on social media bullying finding that women are the most-criticized as well as the harshest critics—nearly 20 percent of women surveyed said that negative comments on social media made them feel more insecure about their daily lives. For those whose prefrontal cortex isn’t quite fully formed, these suggestions from a top-selling beauty magazine—which is just one among many that have always played a role in diminishing female esteem—are certain to exacerbate the problem.
If Barbie is now available in a variety of body types and the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue is featuring models of all sizes and ages in its 2016 spread, why can’t beauty magazines get a grip on promoting a more diverse group of women to emulate on social media?
Though the media is always a large part of the problems society faces, defeating the influences of the mainstream happens at home. Experts are uncovering evidence that a young girl’s self-esteem is predominantly shaped by her mother. Not only her mother’s reactions and interactions with her but also the way a girl’s mother perceives her own mind and body.
The issue is one that is difficult to tackle—unfortunately, it seems that social media is a mainstay of the modern era and will continue to have a foothold in the lives of many, many generations to come. It is important for parents and mentors to help children understand the differences between reality and the perceptions of reality that exist on social media.