STELLAR Investigates: Are Selfies Wrecking Your Self Esteem?

There’s a sinister side to our snaps, and it’s effecting the way we see ourselves. We take a look at selfies and the rise of Body Dysmorphia.

Kim Kardashian Taking A Selfie

Snap. That’s selfie number 26 in a row, and you reckon it’s still not up to standard. Your butt looks big, your make-up isn’t on point and you certainly aren’t looking as fierce as any of the fitness or beauty bloggers you follow.

Selfies have become common place on our social media channels, but it’s all just a bit of harmless fun, right? Um, no, not always. In fact, this week St Patrick’s Mental Health senior therapist Colette Kearns has spoken of the dangers of incessant snapping, stating that the recent focus on physical appearance has led to an increase in cases of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) and anxiety.

“A high proportion of 15-24 year olds will take selfies and that might be for five hours in a week. That’s a huge amount of time,” says Collette. “I think the focus on appearance has increased BDD incidents.”

Barry Murphy of Bodywhys, The Eating Disorders Association of Ireland agrees. BDD can be described as “a preoccupation with with an imagined physical defect in appearance or an over-exaggerated concern about a minimal defect,” he explains, and it’s the social expectations (i.e the number of likes you rack up per pic) that cause people to evaluate themselves through what they post online.

If someone has underlying issues, something like a selfie can cause them to scrutinise their body and bring up negative self-talk

“In terms of wider expectations, this may be down to someone’s expectation that ‘I have to post a certain way in order to feel accepted or else others won’t like me,” he says. “It’s concerning that some individuals may be evaluating a significant part of their self-worth based on selfies and the feedback they get through social media platforms.” 

In turn, these social expectations can cause distress and more personal issues such as poor body image and low self esteem. “Personal expectations can come down to viewing oneself in a particular way and the need to maintain or project a certain image,” Barry continues. “That means, if someone has underlying issues, something like a selfie can cause them to scrutinise their body and bring up negative self-talk. Over time, this can lead to intrusive thought patterns that become deeply ingrained and prevent a person from leading a so-called normal life.”

So, how can you make sure your selfie habit doesn’t wreak havoc on your self esteem? For the most part, it’s the time and frequency of your self snapping that can lead to issues, so it may be best to limit the number of pics you’re taking a day.

Self comparison is another big trap you can fall into. With so many filters and photo editing apps available, it can be hard not to see your own unedited snaps as failing to live up to the perfect standard that social media projects. The thing to remember is, a lot of elements go into taking a so-called perfect pic: lighting, angle, filters and often editing. The number of likes you get shouldn’t act as a barometer for your self esteem.

If you need help with any issues raised in this article contact

By Pippa Doyle.