Study Finds Tinder Users Are More Accepting Of Plastic Surgery

  • Wednesday, July 31 2019 @ 08:12 am
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With the proliferation of retouching apps like Facetune and “pretty” filters on Snapchat and Instagram, we have constant access to an idealized image of ourselves. It’s easy to imagine what we might look like with cosmetic tweaks - a little filler here, a little Botox there, resculpt the nose and suction out that stubborn pocket of fat that no amount of diet or exercise can get rid of.

A new study published in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery finds that social media and online dating aren’t just changing how we want to look in the digital realm. They might also have an effect on our openness to changing our appearance in the real world.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins asked 252 participants to share their views on cosmetic surgery and their average usage of social media and photo editing apps. Each participant self-reported the number of hours per day they typically spent on social media and the platforms they used most often. They also reported on the photo editing tools they used, how many of their photos were enhanced and how many hours they spent editing a photo before posting it. Three previously validated questionnaires were used to measure respondents’ self-esteem and attitudes toward cosmetic surgery.

Analysis showed that participants who used more social media applications were more likely to consider surgery. Users of Tinder, Snapchat and YouTube were found to be especially accepting of cosmetic surgery and interested in undergoing a procedure.

“Tinder... emphasizes self-appearance through the display of profile pictures on public dating profiles,” wrote the study’s authors. “Validation of self-worth is a prominent motivation for people to join and use Tinder, likely contributing to the higher [acceptance of plastic surgery] among its users.”

Increased consideration of cosmetic surgery - but not overall acceptance of surgery - was also observed in users of VSCO and Instagram filters. The use of other applications, including WhatsApp and Photoshop, was associated with significantly lower self-esteem. Facebook users were the least likely to have their self-esteem or feelings about cosmetic surgery influenced by usage of the social media platform.

"Although this study does not establish causation due to the scientific methodology, this association should be recognized," Amishav Bresler, a senior resident at Rutgers who has published on plastic surgery trends, told Mashable. "Beginning to understand how social media and the photo editing culture our patients are living in is the first step to navigating our patients through this newly enhanced world."

A study published last year found that 55 percent of cosmetic surgeons have met with patients who brought filtered or edited photos of themselves to a consultation. There’s even a term to describe the trend of patients wanting to look like their altered selfies: Snapchat dysmorphia.

The obsession with selfies, social media and dating apps is unlikely to dissipate any time soon. But with recognition of the psychological and social effects they can have, perhaps we can learn to use them in a healthier manner.