"The Problem With Beauty Apps is That They End Up Lowering Our Self-Esteem"

In the November issue of Cosmopolitan India, Editor Nandni Bhalla discusses how beauty apps can make us feel flawed and inadequate, and how the solution lies in loving ourselves. 

November brought with it Cosmopolitan India's Beauty Issue...our annual offering of the best beauty tools, launches, and advice. If you’re looking for ways to upgrade your look, I have a feeling you’ll find plenty of inspiration here. While we’re on the subject, I’d like to talk about beauty apps. Those pore-refining, nose-snatching, magical taps of technology that can make us look a little (or a lot) better than our real selves.

Each one of us has a beauty app or filter sitting on our phones, let’s be honest. And unless there is a suspiciously curved door in the background to give away your waist-nipping editing skills, the alterations are almost undetectable.

But while digitally altering our bodies and faces to perfection might seem harmless (and it certainly looks flattering in the moment), the long-term implications of those instant nips-and-tucks are a lot more sinister. 

According to one study, the more people manipulated their photographs, the higher their scores for body-related issues and propensity towards surgery and beauty treatments in real life. And the lower their self-esteem.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? I’ve smoothened and pumped up a selfie here and there. Not proud of it, but I’ve done it. And when I compare the before and after images, I can’t help but feel very unattractive. Suddenly, I think about how terrible my skin really is, or how wonderful it would be if my eyes were the size of mini golf balls. 

That’s because our FaceTune-d or Beauty Plus-ed or Snapchat filter-ed version is unrealistic...and often anatomically impossible. And when we pit ourselves against that doctoring, it makes us feel flawed and inadequate. Plus, when we edit out our not-so-flattering bits, we are acutely aware—whether consciously or unconsciously—that what we are putting out there is a lie. And that’s a recipe for lowered confidence.

Ironically enough, we also end up comparing ourselves to other edited photographs on our feeds (several bloggers have spoken up about Instagram vs Reality), which is a downward spiral waiting to begin. The solution? As with many things, it lies in loving ourselves—the skin that doesn’t look like a sheet of marble or the waist that doesn’t belong to a 14-year-old. That, and consciously cutting back on the digital plastic surgery we subject ourselves to.