Trying to take the perfect selfie could be the reason your teens are self-harming


How do you take the perfect selfie?

Well, there are a few basics – tilt your head to the side (whichever is your “good side”), always make sure you take it from a high angle so you look cute and petite, and strike either a sultry or cutesy pose.

And according to the selfie queen herself, Mrs Kim Kardashian West, you should always make sure the lighting is really good so that you “blow out everything you don’t want to see and highlight all the good things that you do.” 

And after you drop a few filters on your almost perfect picture so that you’re as yellow as a Simpson and barely recognisable, you’re good to go.

But the very problem with this idea of taking the perfect selfie is that once you post it on social media, you start feeding into this idea that people really can be perfect. And if you don’t look like Kim Kardashian West or a Victoria Secret model you start believing you just aren’t sexy enough, pretty enough, or simply, good enough.

In a hilarious but nsfw video posted by British comedian Russel Howard, he addresses the issue of the perfect selfie and also sites research that self harm in teenage girls has increased significantly in recent years because of it.

According to The Sun, a study revealed that self-harming among teenage girls has risen by two thirds in just 3 years due to an increased use of social media and subsequent mental health issues. The study was conducted in the U.K. and reported that “self-harm among girls aged from 13 to 16 rose by 68 % between 2011 and 2014, researchers found. Among boys of the same age the rise was 52 %.”

The study also revealed that in the case of teens living in poorer communities, they aren’t able to get specialist help. But considering that teenage girls, specifically, have to deal with pressures from school  as well as body image satisfaction and cyberbullying, they self-harm as a way of dealing with their struggles.

Russel Howard opens, “Young women are cutting themselves because of social media. And to be honest, you can see why they’re broken. They’re constantly on display. Every picture, every moment, every thought online is being judged. Teenage girls are desperate for likes and they don’t like themselves.”

He continues by explaining that young girls shouldn’t be comparing themselves to Hollywood celebrities on Instagram because none of it is even real – “Everyone’s photoshopped, sucking their cheeks in.”

He also suggests that “social media is not as good as real life” even saying that “memories are so much better than photos” because when you suddenly remember some of the greatest moments of your life or even a funny moment you had with a friend, you may find yourself laughing out of nowhere. And that’s the best kind of laughter.

He explains that we have to talk about self-harming because those who do hurt themselves are more likely to take their own lives saying, they are between "50 to 100 times more likely to commit suicide within a year.” He therefore concludes that instead of saying that it’s just “a cry for help”, we should actually help them then.

We should talk about the link between self-harm and social media.

And we should talk to our kids and make sure that they aren’t being exposed to things that are negatively impacting their self esteem and body satisfaction.

The very problem, is that while our girls are constantly trying to fit this particular image that they are seeing in the perfect selfie, they are actually pushing for something that in real life is completely unattainable.

Because the Instagram models have filters that make them glow and the women you see on the front cover of magazines have been photoshopped to perfection.

And in fact, if Kim Kardashian West’s perfect selfie video has taught us anything at all, it’s that perfect really doesn’t even exist.

Need help? Contact Childline on 08000 55 555 or call The South African Depression and Anxiety Group on 011 234 4837 or call their 24hr line on 0800 12 13 14. Find a therapist near you here

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Do you think there's a link between social media and self-harming? Tell us by commenting below or email us your stories at

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