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Experts: Social media filters lead to body image problems

The study traced filtering images to a disorder called Body Dysmorphic Disorder.

KNOXVILLE — An August study from the Journal of the American Medical Association links filtered images on social media to body image problems.

According to the study, “filtered images can take a toll on one’s self esteem, make one feel inadequate for not looking a certain way in the real world, and may even act as a trigger and lead to body dysmorphic disorder."

The disorder relates to an obsession with one's perceived physical flaws. Amanda Gilliam with Thriveworks says she sees these problems frequently in her therapy work.

“I think that’s where we’re seeing a lot of the dangers in mental health because kids are equating what they see and their peers’ responses and defining who they are based on those," she said.

The study also found that, in young girls, “those who manipulated their photos more reported a higher level of concern with their bodies…may seek out social media as a means of validating their attractiveness...[and see a] higher level of body dissatisfaction.”

Kristin Bradley with Helen Ross McNabb Center believes the actions of adults on social media can also influence their friends and children.

“We all say it. You know, I wish I was a smaller size or I wish I had hair like that person and our kids hear that and they start thinking 'oh, I need to be different. I need to look like that too,'” she said.

Clinical recommendations for body dysmorphic disorder involve a psychological intervention and in some cases medication, but Bradley says some steps can be taken before the problem gets that far.

“We need to take care of ourselves and step back from what society is painting as what we should be and really look into ourselves as people and appreciate and value that," she said.