Creative Project- Artist’s Statement

The topic of my final project is <Filters/Photoshop’s effect on self-esteem>, and I believe that the ability to edit photos easily through photoshop applications has turned its users into thinking that they should look like the filtered/photoshopped photos, not what they look like in real life. Me and my friends are users of various photoshop apps such as ‘facetune’, ‘makeup plus’, and ‘photo wonder’. When I talk to my friends about photoshop and the process of uploading photos on instagram/other social media apps, we all agree that our representation on social media is ‘what we want to be/look like’, whereas (we think that) our real selves are ‘less attractive/beautiful’.

For my creative project, I wanted to try putting my unedited photos on social media. I made a new account named @filtered_vs_reality and posted before-and-after photos that I found in my camera album. (All photos are taken by me) First, I posted the perfect, ready-for-insta photos which I have edited by putting filters and cropping in the perfect proportion. Next to that, I also uploaded the original photos or photos of the same object/place that I took, which represents the ‘reality’.

For instance, I posted pictures of Disneyland that I have taken during the break and compared it with photos without the filters. I also uploaded pictures of my dog as well as my doll with/without filters. Lastly, I uploaded before-and-after photos of me that I have edited using the Facetune app. I also posted videos of the process of editing it using features such as whiten/ smooth/ details/ reshape, which allows me to ‘reshape’ my face and body as well as make my skin ‘perfectly smooth’.

By posting the before-photoshop pictures, I wanted to communicate that what we see on social media is not always genuine. A lot of people, including myself, see other people’s photos on social media and think that their lives are better/that they are prettier, and happier, which leads to loss of self-confidence. However, that is not the case, because what we see on social media are carefully crafted moments of people’s lives. This project was meaningful because it was a chance to me to see for myself that I should not lose confidence because of the difference between my real self and what I look like on social media.

Research Paper Rough Draft

Topic: Filters and Photoshop’s effect on self-esteem.

Outline: This will take form of an opinion-based research paper which introduces the topic ‘Snapchat dysmorphia‘. I plan to explain this topic and the relationship between filters and self-esteem by embedding my own experience as well as my friends’ experience of experiencing low self confidence due to filtered pictures on social media.


I used to be comfortable with my small eyes and flat nose. Until I started seeing all the beautiful girls on social media. They seemed so authentic, happy, and almost shining. Before coming to university, I got double-eyelid surgery to become one of those beautiful girls on social media.

My dreams did come true. Not only do I have bigger eyes than the past, but I can also use filters and photoshop in the most intricate ways possible so that I would look different from the ‘real me’, while not letting it show, so that I can pretend like I was ‘born this way’. And guess what? It works like wonder on social media. I get more likes and comments on social media when I put more ‘effort’ into the process of selecting and photoshopping photos. Now I’m one of the girls that younger girls would see on social media and want to look like. I feel bad, but I can’t help it.


I chose this topic because I have experienced low self-esteem due to filters and photoshop. However, while doing research on this topic, I was surprised to find out that there was a term for this phenomenon, called Snapchat Dysmorphia. Snapchat Dysmorphia is a type of BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder), which is associated with ‘face and body dissatisfaction due to a perceived flaw in appearance’.

I was even more surprised to find out that this was a worldwide phenomenon, because I used to think that Asian girls were generally more obsessed with taking selfies and editing them before putting them on social media. Then I realized how Snapchat’s filters, an application used worldwide by 188 million active daily users, make people’s eyes ridiculously big and their skin appear impeccably soft and clean.


Not only does photoshop and filters make people want to change their faces to look ‘better’, or like the versions of themselves on snapchat, the applications also make them want to change their whole body, including body shape and skin color. All photoshop apps such as MakeupPlus and Facetune have the ‘reshape’ tool, which lets people ‘reshape’ their face and body shapes to make them look slimmer. As a result, it is very easy for people to choose to use photoshop to look thin, instead of trying to lose weight in real life. Because the process of changing their faces on photoshop apps are very simple and easy, people are driven to think that it must be easy in real life to change their appearances. As a result, there have been cases in which people asked for cosmetic surgery to make their eyes as big as the ‘animal eyes’ that Snapchat filters give them.




Final Website Self-Assessment

During the course of making a new blog for my Digital Media and Culture class, I decided to rearrange my blog to make it easier for both me and my audience to read my blog and find content in the blog. Therefore, I created 3 menus in the menu widget, which categorizes my posts into three categories: Final Project, Research Paper, and Blog Assessments. I did not change the theme and color of my blog because I thought that a simple background would be the best design for reading posts on the blog.

I also updated my profile in the ‘Contact’ section, to introduce myself for people who do not know who I am.

At first, I imagined that making a blog would be a hard process because it is something I have never done before. However, after trying out the tools in ‘customize’ and writing posts on the blog, I have found out that the process of creating content on the internet was easier than I imagined.

In the future, if there is anything I want to share on the internet, I think I would post it on the blog. In addition, I would like to gain more audience by posting regularly with content that is helpful and interesting for the audience to read.

Creative project rough draft @filtered_vs_reality


For my Creative Project, I decided to create an instagram account that compares unfiltered photos with photos that were filtered/ photoshopped/ edited in some way to make the same object/ place/ person appear ‘more beautiful’.

For instance, I posted pictures I took at Disneyland with filters to make the picture more aesthetic and appear as if I spent the ‘best day of my life’ on ‘the happiest place on Earth’, when, in reality, the place was crammed with people and I spent hours of waiting in lines for rides.


This is highly relevant to my final paper in that it depicts the contrast between people’s perfect lives on social media and their unfiltered, imperfect lives. Through this project, I hope to gain insight on how people decide to depict themselves on social media and how that process (of choosing photos and editing them) affects their self-esteem.

Annotated Bibliography

Dunkels, Elza, et al. Youth Culture and Net Culture: Online Social Practices. Information Science Reference, 2011.

This source includes a chapter called ‘Fat talk: constructing the body through eating disorders online among Swedish girls’. With the example of Swedish girls and their eating disorders, this source discusses how social media constructs teenagers’ thoughts on what they should look like. I believe that this content would be helpful for me in understanding how social media and the internet influence girls to think of themselves as ‘more fat and ugly’ than they actually look like.

Walsh, Jill. Adolescents and Their Social Media Narratives: a Digital Coming of Age. Routledge, 2018.

This source informs us about the time and effort that most teenagers put into selecting which photos to upload on their social media. This source compares the process of teenagers carefully choosing and uploading photos on social media to that of artists carefully shaping their artwork to display in museums, highlighting how important it is for teenagers to upload their ‘clique’, yet ‘happy-looking’ moments on social media.  This would help me understand why and how teenagers, including myself, choose to present themselves on media and how the process influences their thoughts on self-esteem.

Deckers, Erik, and Kyle Lacy. Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself. Que, 2018.

This source contains information about ‘how teenagers fit in the mix’ by sharing photos and videos on their social media accounts. I can directly relate this content to me and my friends’ own experience of how we choose to stay connected and ‘fit in’ by sharing photos on social media, as well as pressing like and commenting on others’ posts. This source would be helpful in deepening my understanding of the thought process behind the teenagers’ behaviors.

Willingham, AJ. “Social Media Filters Mess with Our Perceptions so Much, There’s Now a Name for It.” CNN, Cable News Network, 10 Aug. 2018,

This article on CNN’s website discusses how there is a new name for the type of body dysmorphia called ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’. The article provides examples of how people use photoshop by including before-and-after photos of photoshop and filters. This helps me to clearly understand how people wish to change their face and body based on what  the photoshop applications suggest they do, such as getting bigger eyes and perfectly clear skin.

Barlow, Rich. “‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’ Can Be Hazardous to Your Health.” BU Today, 2018,

This article defines the term ‘Snapchat Dysmorphia’ and discusses the potential harms of filters and photoshop on social media apps such as snapchat and instagram. This information will be useful for my project because it provides information about what many teenagers are going through (depression and lower self-esteem) worldwide because of the photoshop apps.

Television, CNBC. Napchat Dysmorphia: Increase in Patients Seeking Snapchat Filter Look. YouTube, YouTube, 6 Aug. 2018,

This video includes an interview with a dermatologist who faces patients who wants ‘animal eyes’ and makes impossible requests based on their social media style and preferences. He claims that people don’t want to look like their real selves, and discusses the negative influence of snapchat filters.

This Morning. I Had Surgery to Look Like My Selfies. YouTube, YouTube, 21 Nov. 2017,

This video includes an interview with a person who underwent cosmetic surgery because of her body dysmorphia, also known as ‘selfie dysmorphia’ in her case. Because the interview involves information about a real-life example on a person who actually saved money to get cosmetic surgery, it contains useful information about how people suffer from low self-esteem due to modified, ‘better’ version of themselves on social media and how they strive to ‘not look like their real selves’ by undergoing surgery.




Personal Essay- Filters and Photoshop in relation to Self-esteem

Social media has always been a part of my life. I remember making my Facebook account when I was in elementary school, and ever since then, I have always used social media every day to communicate with others. With the emergence of many other social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, it is impossible for me and my friends to live without social media because it is so addictive and is already a part of our daily lives.

I started using filters and photoshop when I was in high school, in order to get more likes. Me and my friends were on social media platforms all the time, looking at other girls’ photos, pressing like and commenting on the photos to compliment on their pretty faces. The number of ‘Likes and Comments’ were like a representation of popularity during those times. The ‘popular’ girls would always hit 300-500 likes for uploading a photo, and it would be embarrassing to not get over 100 likes, in my middle school. Therefore, in order to stay popular, me and my friends would treat photo uploads like it was our life goal, and worked very carefully to select which photos to upload and to use which filters to use on the photos.

I found it very interesting how we could adjust, or ‘enhance’ our photos with the popular photoshop apps such as Photowonder, Facetune, or MakeupPlus. Most photoshop apps are very straight-forward and are easy to use, as they have features such as ‘Bigger Eyes’, ‘Slimmer Nose’, or ‘Slimmer body’. These features are completely based on the beauty standards of this era which believes that people need big eyes and a slim body in order to look good. Personally, I do not believe that people need perfect eyes and a slim body to look pretty. Everyone looks different and they should embrace their own facial features and body shapes. However, because everyone else seemed to have big eyes and perfect skin on Facebook and Instagram, I did not want to fall behind, and used photoshop to make my eyes bigger, and my face and body slimmer. At the time, I felt like my face and body in my photoshopped pictures was a different person from myself, and felt ashamed of my real appearance. Because everything was so ‘perfect’ on social media, the breakouts on my skin (which is perfectly natural during teenage years), my natural skin tone (the photoshop always made my skin whiter), and my short height (because I looked taller and slimmer on the pictures) made me feel ugly and fake. This was ironic, because instead of thinking of the pictures as fake and made-up, I considered my real self as fake, since I adored the ‘enhanced’ version of myself and wanted to look like the pictures.

Looking at articles on ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’, I could connect to the low self-esteem that many people around the world are also experiencing because of the filtered and photoshopped selfies of themselves. Nowadays, I do not use photoshop and filters as much as I used to in middle school and high school, because I got tired of the obsession with social media and worrying all the time that I do not look just like my selfies. However, I have a friend who likes to upload photoshopped photos on social media every day and feels insecure even though people compliment her looks by liking and commenting on her photos. I recently went on a trip with her and experienced the tedious routine behind uploading ‘that one perfect photo’ on Instagram. First, she would ask me to take about 100 photos of her so she could very carefully select the best 1 to 2 photos to upload. Next, after photoshopping the carefully selected photos, she would then ask me which filters look best on her photos. But this was not the end of the routine. In my eyes, she looked pretty and perfectly fine. However, she would constantly ask me if she was fat, if her eyes were too small, and if people would judge her because she looks different from her photos, and that she wanted to get cosmetic surgery. At the end of the trip, I got very tired of listening to her go on about her insecurities which were clearly caused by using photoshop. Looking back, I could see the old me (in middle school) with the exact same insecurities caused by the photoshops and filters that I use, and I came to a conclusion that the photoshop apps and filters only enhance the appearance on pictures, and harm people’s self-esteem at the same time.

It is scary to think that me and my friend are not the only ones to have experienced this body dysmorphic disorder, but that it is widespread worldwide, with the number of people experiencing it increasing every year. It is even scarier to think that 80 percent of people with body dysmorphia has thought of suicide, according to a study in Primary Psychiatry (

Social media’s influence on people, especially teen girls who can use photoshop, is getting bigger each year. About 7 years ago, when I was in elementary school, social media was not that much of a big deal for me and my friends and we used to not judge other people based on the number of likes. However, social media now is so much bigger and I fear that it would have an influence on even younger girls now.

In addition, there are many ‘micro-celebrities’ with many followers who have to constantly upload posts and interact with their followers in order to ‘stay popular’ on social media platforms. As they can make profit out of advertising products, they would do their best to gain more followers, and the easiest way for them to gain followers is to post beautifully edited pictures of themselves on Instagram. With so many competitors (other micro-celebrities) on social media, there is no doubt that they would be pressured to use photoshop and filters.

I am very excited to explore this topic of filters and photoshop in relation to self-esteem, as I know the potential harms that the innocuous-looking apps can cause, by experience.









Project Proposal

The research topic I have decided to work on this semester is <Social Media’s influence on Self-Esteem>. A few years ago, I watched an interesting video on Youtube that shows the process of photoshopping a model’s picture to make her face brighter, her waist slimmer, her legs longer, and so on. At the time, me and my friends watching the video thought it was fascinating, since it was our first time watching the process of using technology to ‘enhance’ the appearance of a human being. Now, it is very common for people, especially teenagers, to use filters or photoshop to enhance their looks before uploading pictures on social media. As a result, people post only their best-looking, perfectly edited photos on their social media, making everyone, including themselves, to believe that they look just like their photos on social media.

While I was looking for articles related to social media, I found an interesting disorder called ‘Snapchat dysmorphia’ ( This is depression caused by people constantly thinking about their flaws in their appearance, comparing it to their photoshopped appearance. I found this very interesting because this is definitely something I have experienced myself. As a fan of social media platforms such as Instagram, I spend a lot of time taking selfies with filters that ‘enhance’ my appearance by making my eyes bigger, my nose higher, and so on. Through these experiences, I have come to believe that I do not look my best in real life, and that I must use filters/photoshop before uploading anything on my social media. In addition, I spend a lot of time adding to my insecurity by looking at other people’s perfect photos on their timelines, which makes me think that everyone else is prettier/slimmer than me and that I need to change my appearance. Through this research, I aim to explore the mechanisms behind this body dysmorphic disorder and how people can prevent the insecurities caused by social media.