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You are not your #selfie (Featuring Star Wars Star Kelly Marie Tran and why she chooses #Unfollow)

For more information on Social Media's harmful distortion of body image and self: check out the #Unfollow podcast here:

There’s no denying the impact that social media has on our lives. While digital platforms give us a way to communicate with people all around the world, they can also become ground zero for some pretty negative behavior. That’s something Star Wars star Kelly Marie Tran knows all too well -- in fact, the bullying she faced in the months after The Last Jedi was so extreme that she ended up leaving social media altogether. Now she’s reflecting on that decision and offering advice for others on how to navigate the digital world.

In 2017, Kelly Marie Tran made history as the first Asian-American woman to star in a #StarWars movie. However, her character, Rose Tico, proved to be divisive for some fans of the franchise, and they aired their grievances on platforms like Instagram and Twitter -- often engaging with her directly to make their displeasure known.

The harassment took a toll on her mental health and eventually, led the actress to delete all of her social media accounts in 2018. The move prompted some of her Star Wars co-stars to speak up on her behalf and caution fans against toxic behavior.

Though stepping away from social media meant losing a way to interact with fans and promote her career, Kelly Marie Tran emphasized:

I mean, I think that, you know, it's a different decision for everyone. And I think that people should do what they think is right for them. I also think that ... it was the best thing I ever did. I don't know. It's funny, it feels like people are still shocked by it sometimes. I'm like, no ... I just did what was best for me.

Kelly Marie Tran makes an excellent point - it's never a bad idea for anyone to take a step back and examine how they’re interacting with the universe, either online or IRL. If you find yourself engaging in a way that feels unhealthy, it is possible to limit your time on social media or stop using it entirely. It’s good to know she hasn’t had second thoughts about her own choice.

Despite her own lack of presence on social media, Kelly Marie Tran’s fans still have her back online. When Rose Tico wound up with notably reduced screen time in The Rise of Skywalker, fans online were quick to call it out and demand better for the character. The backlash was enough to warrant a response from one of the film’s writers -- and eventually Kelly Marie Tran herself.

Body dysmorphic disorder is defined as a preoccupation with apparent defects in patient's appearance which causes significant distress and impairment. This study was conducted in 186 students who attended premedical preparation classes with the mean age of 16.81 years with the primary motive of determining body dysmorphia among adolescents.

Social media is an extremely popular tool for communication and entertainment. People would question the fact that people are spending an increasing amount of time on these new media platforms. In recent years, social media has become much more visual in presentation and layout. However, it is the evolution of the technology used to manipulate and alter images that have researchers concerned.

Social Media Dysmorphia

In the past decades, people are accustomed to seeing heavily edited images in advertisements. The fact that individuals in these ads have been airbrushed either physically or digitally is not a surprise. But now the technology has advanced to a level where the common social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat all have extremely edited photos. These images can portray an unrealistic and unattainable reality.

The question is whether social media users are aware that these images of average, everyday people are altered through the use of newer digital filters? The brain of the viewer who is looking at the image may not realize that it has been altered. This lack of awareness can have a negative impact on the viewer’s personal body image, and potentially lead to an eating disorder.

Photo Editing Apps

Image and video editing software have been around for many years. These also could create an unrealistic expectation of beauty. What has changed is that now there are downloadable apps that offer high-tech image filtering capabilities. Now almost anybody can modify a photo on their smartphone, no previous experience required. Photo editing applications like Adobe Lightroom or Facetune make it easy for users to boost color saturation, clear up one’s complexion or whiten a person’s teeth.

The fact that software Lightroom can alter reality is not problematic. Issues occur when the people who are viewing the images are not aware that they are looking at a distorted reality. This images may present body image concepts that are physically unrealistic. Yet, due to the everyday, common feel of many social media platforms, viewers are sometimes tricked into believing they are looking at unedited photos.

Recent clinical research in the JAMA state that plastic surgeons are increasingly receiving requests to make patients look like their #selfie images. Again, this is because photo editing software is becoming the norm, which is altering people’s perception of beauty and their overall body image.

The growth in cases of what some researchers are calling Snapchat dysmorphia can negatively impact people’s self-esteem. If severe enough, these self-esteem and body image issues can develop into body dysmorphic disorder.

Other Studies have already shown that there is a correlation between social media use and dangerous eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and Orthorexia. People with this disease excessively focus on what they consider healthy eating. In doing this, they can actually start to damage their physical health. Studies have shown a correlation between orthorexia and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some studies are pointing to a link between Instagram users and signs of orthorexia.

inite correlation between social media usage and negative feelings. A recent study from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine indicated that the more time individuals spent on social media websites, the more isolated and lonely they felt. Researchers believe that social media websites expose people to “highly idealized representations” of other people’s lives. This, in turn, creates feelings of envy as well as a distorted belief that other people are happier and more successful.

As more clinical research is piling in, it appears that the heavy consumption of social media content can create negative consequences. Social media channels may not create eating disorders and other mental health concerns, but these platforms can further

exacerbate a pre-existing conditions.

For more information on Social Media's harmful distortion of body image and self: check out the #Unfollow podcast here:

May the force be with you.

#maythe4th #starwars #bodypositive

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