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A photographer asked teenagers to edit their photos until they thought they looked 'social media ready,' and the results are shocking

INSIDER logoINSIDER 2019-02-07 Rachel Hosie
a man and woman posing for the camera © Rankin
  • A new photo series shows the lengths some people go to to edit their photos for Instagram.
  • The project, by renowned photographer Rankin, asked 15 British teenagers to take five minutes editing their appearances to make them "social media-ready."
  • Most of them made their noses narrower, slimmed their faces, edited out their freckles, enlarged their eyes and lips, and added makeup.
  • Rankin says the project highlights that "we are living in a world of FOMO, sadness, increased anxiety, and Snapchat dysmorphia."

A photo series has shown the lengths some young people go to to edit their appearance before posting pictures on social media platforms like Instagram - and the results are pretty shocking.

The project, entitled Selfie Harm, saw renowned British photographer Rankin photograph 15 British teens aged 13-19.

The teens were then asked to spend five minutes editing the photo until they thought it looked "social media-ready."

The shots show not only how simple it is to change your appearance in a few minutes (thanks to the plethora of apps available nowadays), but also the pressure young people are under to look a certain way. 

Scroll down to see the images before and after on each photo.

Many of the girls made their noses narrower, slimmed their faces, and edited out their freckles.

Before / After © Rankin Before / After

Some enlarged their eyes and lips, and added makeup too. 

"People are mimicking their idols," Rankin said, "and all for social media likes."

Before / After © Rankin Before / After

"This is just another reason why we are living in a world of FOMO, sadness, increased anxiety, and Snapchat dysmorphia," he continued.

"It's time to acknowledge the damaging effects that social media has on people's self-image."

Although the young women said they preferred their unedited pictures, not one left their appearance untouched.

Before / After © Rankin Before / After

"I found it disturbing how big even the small changes are," Rankin added. "It's so simple, almost like creating a cartoon character of yourself. 

Before / After © Rankin Before / After

"What's even scarier is there's little or no debate happening around this. Something like Photoshop, which is a much more complex and inaccessible program, is actually part of a huge social ethical discussion.

"These filters are something very new and, in my opinion, a lot more dangerous. It's almost like giving a teenager access to a Photoshop expert."

The photos are part of an exhibition called Visual Diet, a project by M&C Saatchi, Rankin, and the MTArt Agency team designed to explore how the images we consume affect our mental health. 

Before / After © Rankin Before / After

The website reads: "In the age of the influencer, we're increasingly force-fed thousands of images every day.

"Hyper-retouched, sexually gratuitous bite-sized images are served up fast and fleeting. They often leave us feeling hollow and inadequate.

"These are the empty calories. The visual calories we gorge on because they're there. Our appetite for this type of content is insatiable. It is visual sugar and we are addicted.

"Consuming too much of this content seriously harms your mental health."

RELATED VIDEO: Snapchat dysmorphia: Can I look like my selfie? [Provided by Fox News]

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