Photo Editing Apps and Eating Disorders | Aster Springs

Photo Editing Apps and Eating Disorders

Social media platforms can be extremely damaging to people’s body image and self-esteem, especially when one stops to consider how many hours a day many people spend on social media. As social media users are bombarded with photoshopped images of people who appear perfect, they tend to compare themselves to these unrealistic and unattainable beauty standards. As a result, their mental health is negatively impacted.

Social Media and Body Image: What Do We See?

When it comes to social media and body image, “What don’t we see?” may be the better question. Thanks to technological advancements we are all more connected than ever, but those connections may not include a connection to reality. 

Many influencers, celebrities, and even everyday users resort to software or apps that allow them to digitally alter their appearance. They commonly use filters and airbrushing to change their skin complexion, body size, and facial features to fit a specific beauty standard. What we don’t see are all the flaws—the blemishes, imperfections, the natural eye color, the natural hair color, actual body size, all the things that make us authentic and unique.

How Do Social Media and Photo Editing Affect Body Image and Mental Health?

The relationship between mental health and photo manipulation is concerning. Social media has become a significant feature in people’s daily lives. Individuals of every age use platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram. While these platforms offer opportunities for connection, they can also have negative effects. 

Meanwhile, the impact of photo editing on people’s self-image is primarily negative. The prolific use of photo editing apps on social media can result in adverse psychological effects like low self-esteem, negative body image, depression, and feelings of loneliness.

Such consequences can contribute to the development of disordered eating thoughts and behaviors. These include restricting, binging, purging, and exercising excessively.1 In extreme cases, feelings of dissatisfaction with appearance, discontent, and distress caused by unhealthy comparisons and harsh judgment of one’s body can trigger the development of eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, and orthorexia.2 These feelings can also contribute to body dysmorphia and the development of body image disorders, such as body dysmorphic disorder (BDD).3

Five Tips to Maintain a Positive Body Image While Using Social Media

Developing and maintaining a positive body image is crucial to mental health. However, you are ultimately responsible for what you consume online. Below are some ways to promote increased self-worth, self-esteem, and positive body image while you scroll.

  1. Use positive self-talk and avoid negative self-talk
  2. Follow body-positive influencers on social media and unfollow accounts that damage self-esteem and body image
  3. Stay openly critical of posts and images that make you feel bad about yourself
  4. Limit the time you spend on social media platforms
  5. Remind yourself that you are a complete and whole individual, not just a presence on social media3

While photo editing can be creative and playful, it’s important to remember its possible effects on body image and mental health. Educating oneself about the potential harm of adopting unrealistic beauty standards and making comparisons is a crucial step toward fostering a positive body image.

If you struggle with body image and believe you have an eating disorder, the team at Aster Springs can help you find the right eating disorder treatment program to meet your individual needs. Find an Aster Springs Treatment Center near you. Our compassionate team is always here to help.


  1. Dane, A, & Bhatia, K. (2023). The social media diet: A scoping review to investigate the association between social media, body image and eating disorders amongst young people. PLOS Global Public Health, 3(3).
  2. Pedersen, T. (2021, February 27). How does social media affect body image? PsychCentral.
  3. Brazier, Y. (2023, May 25). What is body image? Medical News Today.

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