Kimberly Kucharek, 26, says Instagram has had a huge impact on why she continues to get cosmetic procedures like lip injections.
“You’re comparing yourself to other girls … so you’re almost always striving for perfection,” she said.
“Let’s say you post a selfie and you see another girl post a selfie and you see that she has bigger lips or nicer cheekbones or whatever, and it’s easy to attain, that is when you compare yourself,” she said.
Kucharek is a laser technician in Vancouver and first got lip injections when she was 21.
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She says the constant comparison of selfies has made her feel more insecure.
“Because it’s almost rubbed in my face that all these other girls look so perfect in pictures on Instagram … especially since younger girls are coming in, you’re almost doing it to keep up, to look and feel younger,” she said.
Kucharek says younger girls are getting lip injections because celebrities like 19-year-old Kylie Jenner — who got lip injections as a teenager — have normalized the procedure.
Plastic surgeons turn into celebrities
Experts say transformation photos on Instagram are also making these procedures seem less frightening.
“Doctors will put up videos sometimes of them performing actual injectables so you don’t see the clients flinch, you don’t see them cry, so it looks very painless and comfortable. That almost makes it easier to have the procedures done,” Kucharek said.
Some surgeons have grown an empire of social media followers and reach millions of users by posting videos of their work and their celebrity clients.
Natasha Cuzner, owner of The Vanity Lab, says these posts further normalize getting work done.
“It’s not a secret that people are getting procedures,” she said.
“There is a lot less stigma about getting injectables done. The same way someone would dye their hair or get hair extensions, you can have fun with your look with Botox or fillers in a non-permanent way,” she said.
Numbers up as procedures become less taboo
It’s not just Kucharek who is influenced by all this.
Carruthers Humphrey Cosmetic Dermatology, a clinic in Vancouver, claims its number of under 30 patients has increased 268 per cent in the last five years.
“We are living in the age of the selfie. So I think appearance, the facial portrait has a really big impact on our self-perception. More so for millennials than any other generation,” said Dr. Shannon Humphrey, medical director of the clinic.
The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery says its members are seeing the same trend. In 2015, 64 per cent of surgeons reported seeing an increase in their under 30 patients.
Psychologist Dr. Paul Hewitt, who has researched perfectionism for over three decades, says a woman’s self-esteem is bound to her appearance and certain types of perfectionists are more likely to consider getting work done.
This trend of striving for perfection worries body image advocate Jill Andrew.
“Perfection doesn’t exist but when enough people are sporting the ‘perfect’ face or body through medical intervention, we no longer remember that,” Andrew said.
Andrew also worries that an environment which supports looks-based obsessions will lead to mental health issues because women are constantly told to feel like they’re not good enough.
“All of a sudden it becomes a goal, an aspiration for a woman who now sees ‘flaws’ in herself amplified next to her ‘augmented’ peers,” she said.
Although Kucharek doesn’t regret getting work done, she does advise young women to not rush into it.