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"Mirror, Mirror, Off the Wall: Finding Real Worth in a Filtered World"

Updated: May 15

Imagine waking up to a wonderful morning, noticing the sun’s rays sneaking in through your room’s window, and hearing the sweet sounds of the birds chirping. With a mild smile on your face, you loosely stretch your arms with an inner feeling that says: ‘Looks like a good day! Life is beautiful and so am I.’ Before you get off your bed, there lies your phone. An instant urge pushes you to refresh the feed of your social media. Wondering what happens next? You are bombarded with updates and pictures of your favorite celebrities and their well-sculpted physiques!

The mild smile you had turned into a fearful frown, where, in an instance, you now feel terrible about your body. You start chalking out mental diet plans and forming your unrealistic ‘No fats and carbs, just protein!’ resolutions. You go to the mirror and say, ‘Mirror mirror on the wall, please give me a body that’s admired by all!’

What caused this sudden shift in your mindset? What adulterated your perception of how you look in the mirror? 

Let’s figure it out. 

The Claws of Celebrity Culture

Let’s admit it. All of us have dreamt of living the celebrity life, at least once! Lavish luxuries, sumptuous delicacies, an abundance of wealth and fans, and a magnetic appearance. The popular celebrity pictures we see on various forms of media including print, visual, or social, serve as triggers for our daydreams. One factor that particularly affects several teens and young adults is the desire to have a body like the celebrities they admire. This desire manifests in the form of setting unrealistic body expectations and inviting various eating disorders. A thesis by Jinxi Caddel interestingly terms a certain kind of celebrity pictures as ‘thinspirational’, eliciting feelings of inner sadness, dissatisfaction, and a need to get fitter to validate one’s body. Another study that surveyed more than 500 young adolescents observed that around 31% of participants tended to develop eating disorders, and this was significantly associated with body image concerns influenced by famous personalities. Such disorders may give rise to erratic behaviours and irregular eating habits. 

Filters and the Toxic Loop of Comparison

There was a time when simple Kodak click-cameras were the most sought-after devices and people did not overthink before getting their pictures clicked. With rapid advancements in technology - enter filters. Built within social media apps, these filters come with effects that allow users to alter their images in once unimaginable ways. The usage of these filters amplified our inherent need to match the skin tones or body types of popular celebrities. The constant comparison with pictures of celebrities has led to an unwanted hyperfocus towards one’s appearance. Such has been the severe impact of these filters that in 2018, the term ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’ was coined and quoted in several publications, which referred to rising requests from people for cosmetic surgeries to look like their filtered versions! If this is the extent to which filters can impact us, we need to reclaim the undue power that we give to them.  

Effects Beyond The Body

When you compare your appearance and identity with the near-perfect pictures and the lives of celebrities, you also add unconscious filters to your mind. Instead of embracing your authentic self, you lose self-confidence, weigh down your past wins, and develop limiting beliefs making you think that becoming a celebrity or looking like them is perhaps the only form of achievement. People who are overly conscious of their appearance post their pictures online, only when they are convinced that they have clicked them from the right ‘angle.’ Instead of rooting for unrealistic images, how about we cultivate a realistic and self-fulfilling mindset that fosters self-belief? 

How to Focus on Yourself the Right Way?

It’s important to understand that chasing certain idealistic appearances of celebrities is an endless and self-harming pursuit. Rather, you must accept yourself for who you are. Here’s how:

Embrace Body Positivity: 

Appreciate and admire your body and the functions it performs. This includes embracing the aspects of yours that may be inconsistent with idealised images, but are real to you.

Adopt The Right Fitness Mindset: 

If you feel you should burn some calories and workout, you should! But, are you craving fitness to impress others or to genuinely become a better version of yourself? Let your motivation be guided by the right reasons.

Realise There’s Much More to You: 

Is your appearance the sole measure of your personality? Of course, not. Your behaviours and intellect also play a big role in forming others’ perceptions of you. Focus on improving yourself by leveraging your strengths and working on areas where you can do better.

Limit The Use of Social Media: 

A lesser screen time enables you to live life better. This helps you become more self-aware and prevents an overdose of unrealistic pictures on social media. 

Seek Support: 

If you feel underconfident about your self-image, remember you are not alone. It’s perfectly normal to talk it out with someone you trust or seek professional support if needed.

It’s time you celebrate your unfiltered self more than any celebrity. Remember, self-acceptance doesn’t come from impressing others but from expressing your truest self. The next time you face the mirror, say,

‘Mirror mirror on the wall, I accept myself and that’s all.’

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