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Photographer Illustrates Dangers of Social Media by Having Teens Edit Their Own Photos

"Eve" - Age 18
Screenshot/Facebook

The teens all said they preferred their original photos, but every one of them felt they needed editing (sometimes a lot of editing) before they could be posted on social media.

As Insider reports, famed British photographer Rankin recently completed a new series that illustrates the effect social media has on self-image.

For the series, Rankin took photos of 14 British teens, aged 13 to 19. He then gave them the photos and told them to edit the images until they were, “social media ready.”

Though all the subjects said they preferred their original, unedited photo, their actions said something else. Every single teen edited the photo, and sometimes the difference between the untouched and retouched images was significant.

For my latest series, Selfie Harm ? I photographed 14 teenagers & handed them the image to then edit & filter until they felt their image was ‘social media ready’. People are mimicking their idols, making their eyes bigger, their nose smaller and their skin brighter, and all for social media likes. It’s just another reason why we are living in a world of FOMO, sadness, increased anxiety, and Snapchat dysmorphia. It’s time to acknowledge the damaging effects that social media has on people’s self-image. Thanks to: the incredible individuals that took part in the Visual Diet project; Jennifer, Felix, Alessandra, Maisie, Isaac, Seb, Beneditcte, Shereen, Mahalia, Eve, Siena, Tomas, Emma & Georgia. Also, Mimi Gray at M&C Saatchi, Marine Tanguy, Gem Fletcher, Aaron Gillies & Justin Tindall on making this project come to life ?PLEASE NOTE ? The majority of subjects preferred their original image

Posted by Rankin on Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Noses and faces were made smaller or slimmer. Freckles and blemishes removed. Some added dramatic makeup. Several girls made their eyes or lips larger. Rankin told Insider:

“I found it disturbing how big even the small changes are. It’s so simple, almost like creating a cartoon character of yourself.”

The photographer shared a video illustrating the difference between the two photos on Facebook and wrote:

People are mimicking their idols, making their eyes bigger, their nose smaller and their skin brighter, and all for social media likes. It’s just another reason why we are living in a world of FOMO, sadness, increased anxiety, and Snapchat dysmorphia. It’s time to acknowledge the damaging effects that social media has on people’s self-image.

As a photographer, Rankin has discussed the effects of Photoshop on the medium and how it is contributing to the homogenization of portraiture. But for the Selfie Harm series, he is more concerned with the psychological effects of editing apps and social media.

“I’ve created this work because I want to be a part of the movement against the harmful effects that this newly accessible technology is having on people’s mental state,” Rankin told Fashionista.

He added that he believes the technology can be a danger to mental health, especially when it comes to children and teens:

“This is a new, enhanced reality, a world in which teenagers (or even younger kids) can alter themselves digitally within seconds. Mix this readily available technology with the celebrities and influencers flaunting impossible shapes with impossible faces, and we’ve got a recipe for disaster.”

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