#MaskOnMaskOff

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I love filters! Specifically, Snapchat always has fun and exciting filters that includes crops, face and voice changers!  Unfortunately, I found myself wanting to post myself on social media only with an added filter; I had more confidence with one. My skin became smoother, lighter, my nose slimmer, and it even added lashes with a pop of color painted on my lips. Before, I would never post a selfie and definitely not a close up video, but now I found myself posting left and right. Then, I received notification that I had two new followers, my nieces, both under 12. Hmm... I thought. Gladly, they were restricted by their parents from having any followers or following anyone except for family; they only signed up for the fun filters! But, I realized that there were more pictures of them in their photo  gallery with filters than with their beautiful, authentic selves. Problem! Then I thought, if I, a grown adult, felt more beautiful with filters versus without them, what is this doing to children and their self esteem? At least as an adult, I could handle looking not quite like myself, well, sorta-kinda. Did they still feel pretty or confident without the filters? Was this just really for fun?

The truth is we, society, care how we are perceived. We want more likes, more comments, and more followers to boost our confidence, so women...and men are enhancing body parts, altering their appearance, and are depending on "likes" for self approval.

Magazines with photo-shopped and retouched images of celebrities have broken down kids' self image for decades.  The fashion world has told Americans that a size 8 is plus size! Social media is so powerful. It has taught us that lighter skin is prettier, skinny is more appealing, colored eyes makes you beautiful, and "good hair" is only achieved through extensions, perms, being of other ethnicities, and wigs.

Snapchat, and other apps alike, have seasoned the media's stance on what beauty is. Yes, filters are fun to play around with; I still use them, but young children should not, I repeat, they SHOULD NOT have an any social media account where they are allowed to alter their appearance. They should not get to participate in changing who they are because they will begin to feel that the "fake them" is prettier. If children would rather post pictures and videos with filters, it is cause for alarm. I know many adults who should take heed to the same advice although children are much more impressionable. What they perceive as pretty, they want to look like.

Being a student in today's world is harder than what most adults can imagine. This generation is so technological advanced that they are exposed to everything by the click of a button and want to emulate what they see, even if it is not in the most positive light. As an educator, I've seen students walk around the school building with hoods on their heads (boys and girls) because of low self esteem. After sitting in a girls' mentoring group, I witnessed students described themselves as ugly and unhappy and feel that having sex appeal makes them more desirable to their male counterparts. Most students who were in this mentoring group had a social media account of some sort. When asked to see their profile picture, almost all of them had a filter! Shocking?

Parents, I encourage you to promote posting #therealme while including #nofilter. Be the example. Until your child can love themselves genuinely and accept them for who they really are, (and being an adolescent is definitely not the right time), monitor them as much as possible and refrain from "fun" filters.

 

I hope these few words find you well,

Dr. E