Instagram is increasingly being told to take responsibility for the harmful effects of it's site on the mental health of young people.
Between celebrities endorsing weight-loss products which have no scientific backing, the NHS encouraging body-negative adverts to be banned, and the new sensitivity screens being put in place to prevent graphic violence and self-harm being depicted; Insta is a dangerous place.
Yet, we cannot deny that selfie culture and self-branding through social media has become just a normal part of our everyday life. Me, myself and Instagram has taken over, and young people growing up today assume it's perfectly normal to try to look perfect.
It's so prevalent in society to share the highlights of ourselves and desperately emulate others who we assume have 'better' lives, which writers such as Matt Haig have emotionally discouraged.
FaceTuning images to blur seeming 'imperfections' such as stretchmarks, wrinkles, spots, freckles, teeth, smiles, body hair, even elbow wrinkles or unwanted curves is the new normal, according to our society.
Having flaws is deemed unhealthy, and the notion of 'narcissism' or vanity is no more.
Now Rankin is trying to counteract the idea of editing ourselves in a new photo series, and it's beautiful.
The amazing photographer is attempting counteract self-editing, by showing people just how damaging the effects of social media can be. His photo series, aptly named Selfie Harm, was launched last week on Instagram.
The renowned artist captured portrait shots of 15 teens and handed power to them and their filter apps, asking them to edit the retouched image until they felt it was 'social media ready'.
“Social media has made everyone into their own brand. People are creating a two-dimensional version of themselves at the perfect angle, with the most flattering light, and with any apparent flaws removed.”
“This is a new, enhanced reality, a world in which teenagers can alter themselves digitally within seconds. Mix this with the celebrities and influencers flaunting impossible shapes with impossible faces and we’ve got a recipe for disaster," he attested.
The photographer shows images of youth and natural beauty which massively contrast with the newly filtered, edited versions. It's shockingly easy for the young models to blur the lines of reality, but what is 'perfect' in a world such as this?
He wrote on Instagram;
“People are mimicking their idols, making their eyes bigger, their nose smaller and their skin brighter, and all for the 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 concluded.
The visible differences and changes made allow the teenagers and subjects to transform their entire identity, so much so that their natural state is completely erased. There are smaller noses, smooth complexions, wider eyes and lips, everything you can imagine.
Interestingly, the photographer notes that most of the models preferred their original image, but it's still disturbing to witness the power of filters. These edits can convince people that they're regular image isn't good enough to be seen.
It's becoming harder to discern what's real and what's fake; soon the idea of reality on social media could vanish altogether.