Photographer asks teens to edit selfies until they are 'social media ready' and the results are disturbing
A new photo series has exposed the lengths that certain youngsters go to to alter their appearance before posting selfies to social media, and the results are, unsurprisingly, disturbing.
The project, which is called Selfie Harm, saw British photographer, Rankin, capture 15 British adolescents, who were aged between 13 and 19. They were then asked to spend around five minutes editing and filtering the photo - using the app B612 - until they deemed it to be "social media ready".
The experiment exposed two things: that thanks to affordable and easy-to-use apps, Photoshopping is no longer a technique solely reserved for models and actors. And secondly, because of the prevalence of such software - and the dominance of photo-sharing platforms such as Instagram - teenagers are under a pressure, unique to today, to look a certain way.
"People are mimicking their idols, making their eyes bigger, their nose smaller and their skin brighter, and all for social media likes," said Rankin following the publication of the photo series. "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."
"I find it disturbing how big even the small changes are. Social media has made everyone into their own brand," he continued. "Imagery, like anything else, can be healthy or harmful, addictive or nutritious. This has become a massive issue with the huge cultural impact of social media. Every platform is full of hyper-retouched and highly addictive imagery. It’s messing people up."
"But what’s even scarier is that there’s little or no debate happening around this. We’ve been talking about airbrushing, retouching and Photoshopping for about 15 years now. These filters are something very new and, in my opinion, a lot more dangerous."
The photographer admitted that he has previously been criticised for his use of Photoshop - something he says was "absolutely correct". And so, the series was created to be "part of the movement against the harmful effects that this newly accessible technology is having on people’s mental state", and to highlight the "damage that it is doing to photography, the art form that I love."
The portraits were unveiled last week as part of the project, Visual Diet, a collaboration between M&C Saatchi, Rankin and MTArt Agency, and was conceived to explore the impact that imagery can have on people's mental health.