Have you ever heard of “digital plastic surgery”? A recent article in the New York Times by Joanna Nikas beautifully described its effect on 2018’s perception of beauty. She tells us what most of us already know, that fashion magazines consider it common practice to enhance the face and bodies of women in their pages. So what’s new now? We are seeing it in social media!
Software programs and even apps have made the process of transforming faces so easy that my 8-year-old granddaughter can do it to perfection. You think not? Then take a look at a program called “Portrait Professional,” where ordinary faces can become extraordinary in a matter of minutes! (See example on right.) It becomes so tempting for social media fans to enhance their face for Facebook, Instagram or other internet platforms.
Trending today is the desire for many people young and old to have plastic surgery procedures done to look more like their filter from Snapchat or Instagram. The filters allow you to improve features that may be more pronounced like a jaw or nose and accentuate others like your eyes. It even allows you to add makeup, remove scars or acne, and extend eyelashes. These filters are part of the software when you have certain apps like the ones mentioned above.
I can envision a woman eyeing a handsome man on a dating app or website and arranging to meet him at a public restaurant or bar. However, she isn’t able to spot him when he arrives and, unfortunately, he has the exact same problem trying to recognize her face from her photos. You guessed it…they both digitally enhanced their images to the point where each was unrecognizable.
In the article “Online Dating Pictures-Who Said the Camera Never Lies?” (The Guardian, 12/6/14), Stella Grey discusses her real experiences with online dating and the dilemma of posting your best pictures. On one occasion, she was meeting up with a “worryingly handsome” man who had seen only “strategic photos” of her head and shoulders. When he saw her in person, “his face fell.” After ignoring her to listen to the live band, he ended the evening by saying, “I don’t think so, do you?” After that date, Grey admitted that she posted a full body picture so that men had a realistic impression of her.
The takeaway: when posting photos of yourself, use a variety of “looks.” Be sure to post recent pictures that depict how you look today, not something from your high school days. Your selected pictures should reflect your lifestyle and what you enjoy. Consider the following suggestions:
• A full-length picture
• Limit the “selfies” to just one
• A group shot with friends
• A picture of yourself doing an activity or hobby you enjoy
• A picture with an interesting backdrop from a vacation or hike
Digital enhancement has crept into virtually all phases of our lives – and not always in legitimate ways. I recall one incident when my dental partner Dr. David Garber and I were editors of a leading dental magazine on esthetic dentistry. We would constantly receive well-illustrated articles and had a scientific committee to judge if the articles had sufficient merit to be included in our journal. One such article was rejected because the final result showed terribly diseased gum tissue, indicating possibly poor fit of the new porcelain crowns. Much to my surprise, I was shocked to see the exact same photos digitally enhanced to show “perfect” tissue when the article was published in another magazine. Dishonesty in a health professional magazine is certainly not the only abuse of digital technology; we have seen it utilized to advance the academic status of less qualified individuals.
The same analogy can be applied to falsifying looks to the public, especially in dating sites. Perhaps you have seen good-looking pictures of celebrities, writers and commentators but when seeing them in person (or even interviewed) they looked much older or not even close to their “public relations” photos.
PLASTIC SURGERY BY DESIGN
When I asked Dr. Foad Nahai from Emory Aesthetic Center in Atlanta about this trend, he responded:
“Yes, we have all seen it. We are all aware of body dysmorphic disorder that must be taken into account when evaluating patients. The changes made by the app may not be appropriate or may not be realistic or attainable. We prefer more sophisticated technology that is available in most plastic surgeons’ offices to realistically represent the results of procedures the individual is interested in. Together the patient and surgeon look at the proposed changes, and it is the surgeon’s responsibility to point out whether the changes are appropriate or even attainable. Not all cosmetic procedures and operations are appropriate in teens. It is important to keep an open mind about the realities of what a plastic surgeon can accomplish for you and to not be stuck with an unobtainable image of yourself.”
There’s no harm in trying the quick digital makeover, and if you like the way your face looks in the “after” then the next step is to see a plastic surgeon, who also has facial enhancement software. Then and only then will you have an accurate visualization of how your face can be improved. Usually the doctor will make the enhancements with you, but the best thing is that they will be realistic changes.
UNDER 40 Tinder: This international app was one of the pioneers in early “swipe” matchmaking. Upload your profile and swipe right if you like what you see and swipe left if you don’t. When two people swipe right on each other, a match is made, and you both can communicate through text on the app and make plans to meet up. Hinge: This app relies on your Facebook friends to make connections through your friends and your friends of friends. Unique questions are asked as part of the profile design, and potential “matches” can “like” your answers on your profile page. Bumble: This app puts the power into the female’s hands and she initiates the conversation. After a connection is made, the “matches” have 24 hours to communicate with each other, thus encouraging the users to get to know each other.
OVER 40 Love Again:For those looking for a friendship, love or support, this site caters to the 40+ age bracket and has a community feel. It also helps those who have lost a significant other find others going through the same thing. Match.com:One of the original dating sites with over 23 years of matchmaking, this site is for people looking for a more serious relationship. Singles are recommended to you based on your answers to specific questions. It also gives you access to “Stir” which is Match.com’s social site that fills you in on local events and helps bring users together in person based on interest.
50+ Senior Match: Launched in 2003, this site is billed as the biggest and most active senior dating site for those over 50. Whether you’re looking for dating and relationships, companionship, a travel mate or activity partner, this site covers it all. eHarmony: With over 2 million monthly visitors, this site uses a compatibility matching system, with a lengthy questionnaire that narrows the field to fit your profile. It’s designed for people looking for a relationship and marriage-minded singles. It also screens for sex offenders and monitors account activity.
With a lifelong interest in beauty, Dr. Ronald Goldstein conducts ongoing research on the physical attractiveness phenomenon and its role in the achievement of personal success. His dental practice was the first to move beyond the smile and focus on overall facial harmony. He writes extensively for both consumers and the dental profession on beauty, esthetic dentistry and related topics. Dr. Goldstein is the author of the 2-volume textbook, Esthetics In Dentistry and Change Your Smile (12 foreign translations), which now in its 4th edition is the top-selling consumer guide to cosmetic dentistry found in thousands of dentists’ reception rooms around the world. He is on the advisory board of New Beauty magazine and writes for it as well. He is the founder of Tomorrow’s Smiles, a national non-profit fund that helps deserving adolescents receive life-changing smiles through cosmetic dentistry. His multidisciplinary practice Goldstein, garber & salama is in Atlanta, Georgia.