Instagram and Imagined Ugliness

When Social Media Hurts

Sometimes people become extremely self-conscious about a certain aspect of their appearance. This can progress to a point where their behaviour becomes obsessive in nature.

For example, I recently saw a young woman who was concerned about the way her chin moved when she smiled.

“I look at all these photos on Instagram”, she said, and “I feel that my chin looks ugly”.

“Now, all I do is take photos of other people’s chins”.

“My girlfriend has a nice jaw and chin line and she has obviously had work done but she won’t tell me what she’s had”.

In fact this young woman was highly attractive with a normal and beautiful chin and neck line.

It was true that when she smiled her chin became a little dimpled and moved down – but this was within the limits of normality.

The problem was her obsessiveness and not her chin.

Yet she had absolutely no insight and was on a mission to have her chin fixed!

Clearly this woman was not a suitable candidate for surgery. A small dose of Botox injected into the muscle under the skin of the chin will reduce the movement of the chin slightly and correct the dimpling and so this was recommended, together with advice that her chin was in fact normal and that she should do her best not to focus her attention so much on to her chin.

This case is an example of one of the many problems we see due to the ubiquitous use of photography and Instagram. These days, everyone has a camera on their phone and people are constantly having their photo taken or taking selfies. There appears to be a new syndrome called the “Selfie Syndrome” where people discover some apparent feature of ugliness that they didn’t previously realise existed but that they now have proof off because of “photographic evidence”.

Yet, as we know, everyone has their own distinctive set of features and beauty is definitely in the eye of the beholder.