This article was submitted by one of my mentees, Noelle Garbaccio, a high school student who is working toward a career in medicine. -Lara Devgan, MD, MPH
Social Media, Body Image & Plastic Surgery
By Noelle Garbaccio
With more than 300 million users sharing over 70 million images a day, Instagram has become a huge force in social media-- and in the hearts and minds of its participants. But do the beautiful, highly edited images we see on Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms reflect real life?
No, according to 19-year-old model and social media darling, Essena O’Neill. While Instagram and other photos may be gorgeous and visually appealing, they belie the reality of the human beings behind them. Just as pictures in magazines are the products of incessant photo-shoots and Photoshop edits, so too are the pictures on social media.
Prior to deleting her social media accounts in early November, O’Neill edited the captions of her Instagram pictures to portray the truth behind the perfect photos. Several photos are shown below.
O’Neill’s captions demonstrate the effort expended for the photos idealized worldwide. She admits that the best photos necessitated over 100 shots to capture, that her figure was achieved through skipped meals and excessive exercise, and that her most popular posts were highly edited and filtered.
While social media platforms are certainly aspirational, O’Neill’s exposure of the reality behind her attractive Instagram images is a reality check for anyone who regards them as inspiration for plastic surgery. A 2014 survey by RealSelf concluded that social media influenced up to 50% of users to consider cosmetic surgery—a concerning statistic, given that plastic surgery is not only a serious medical choice, but also a very personal decision.
If you are thinking about plastic surgery, it is important to understand that realistic expectations are at the heart of good results. While social media can provide inspiration or ideas, your individualized goals should be based on your unique characteristics, your personal desires, and your detailed conversation with your surgeon.
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Olya, Gaby. "Essena O'Neill Admits to Skipping Meals and Exercising Obsessively to Feel Confident on Social Media." People Magazine. N.p., 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. <http://www.people.com/article/essena-oneill-skipped-meals-exercised-obsessively>.
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