British photographer and director Rankin, asked teens (and pre-teens) of all ethnicities to edit portraits he had taken of them. The subjects of the photographer's #SelfieHarm project edited their images until they believed they were "social media ready".
These edits entail rosier cheeks, longer lashes, sharper, smaller noses and more defined jawlines - basically all the Eurocentric features associated with "perfection".
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SELFIE HARM____ @rankinarchive for visual diet cont. Displayed together, the unretouched portraits show the true face of youth and natural beauty, against the heightened, smoothed, and dramatically changed versions. The contrast brings to light the potential beauty ideals that each teenage individual experiences and perceives in their surrounding society, and the ease with which reality and fantasy can be blurred using this simple technology. • TELL US WHAT YOU THINK_
This project's purpose is not to bring the to the fore the issues surrounding teenage angst and insecurity, but rather it is commentary on the industry and its fixation with flawlessness.
The teenagers involved in the project also did not, in fact, have any qualms with their original images, but edited according to what they've seen their peers come up with.
These social media ready portraits were shown at an exhibition and panel called "Visual Diet" - a new initiative launched by M&C Saatchi, Rankin and MTArt Agency, which explores the impact of imagery on our mental health, Fashionista reports.
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This new photo series, aptly named Selfie Harm, will shock you. Created by renowned photographer @rankinarchive, he asked 15 teenagers to edit and filter their pictures until they felt they were ‘social media ready’. Click the link in bio to see just how much the filtered images differ from the originals and get a glimpse into the psychological impact that social media can have. Time to delete your FaceTune app? ??: @rankinarchive . . . #SelfieHarm #Rankin #RankinPhotography
It's a form of digital self harm, as the play on words of the hashtag implies, #SelfieHarm.
For decades, our eyes have been accustomed to poreless smooth faces, matte faces (serious envy from those of us with oily skin), almond shaped eyes and symmetry that would make for better maths problem examples. We were fed this diet for so long, that when a beauty/fashion campaign was served with a side of pores, acne scars, stretch marks and cellulite dimples, we all applauded, forgetting that that's what we see in our daily realities.
This is what Rankin's work aims to speak to. In an interview with Fashionista, he says "I've always had a problematic relationship with Photoshop; at one point, celebrities, brands and magazines would tirelessly demand it, and so it became a large part of my job."
"People are mimicking their idols, making their eyes bigger, their nose smaller and their skin brighter, and all for social media likes. 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," he added.
In a world of SnapChat filters and Kardashian cosmetic surgeries, it's common for women who often use social media to feel pressured to use FaceTune, photoshop and their equivalents to match the standard. Of course, for some, this does have its disadvantages - "catfish" is the slur thrown at girls when people feel duped by their selfies, as if anyone would post an unflattering post of themselves just to prove a point about authenticity.
In some cases, the catfish backlash is offensive and can further feed into the dysmorphia triggered by platforms such as Instagram to begin with. For example, a local man recently ridiculed his Tinder date to her face because she wasn't wearing the wig she had in her profile picture.
She is, without a doubt, not the first young woman to be on the receiving end of this unwarranted humiliation.
This is just one of the issues Rankin's "Visual Diet" has us mulling over with regards to how much social media perfection has warped our perceptions of beauty.
As Fashionista notes, "the photographer argues that these apps are in fact more dangerous and damaging to mental health than the professional use of Photoshop, and there needs to be a larger discussion around that."
We leave you with Rankin's poignant words before your next IG binge:
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