THE BLOG
10/02/2016 07:14 GMT | Updated 09/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Is Social Media Sending Us Under the Surgeon's Knife?

Every day, I wake up and scroll through my Instagram feed for 'inspiration'.

Unlike Facebook, which is swamped with baby pics, mortgage boasts (sorry posts) and irritating festival-goers, Inspire-gram is a breath of fresh air.

Mainly, because I don't follow people I know - I follow complete strangers.

Models, beauty bloggers, rich girls, celebs - whoever is furthest away from the life I follow.

I lap up the bikini-clad pics of them doing the downward dog or some other yoga pose in front of a sunset with the hastag #instFit.

Or I type #instafood into the search bar and am overwhelmed by the raw cocao brownies, quinoa porridge or coconut flour pancakes that grace my screen.

I know it's disgustingly middle class but I can't stop myself buying into the latest trendy superfood. I've become the person I once loathed - the person who buys pink Himalayan salt and kale crisps from ridiculously overpriced health stores run by white people with dreads.

After 10 minutes scrolling through my newsfeed, I am filled with a mixture of emotions - envy and inspiration.

Although I'm a reasonably intelligent person, it's easy to forget social media is just an edited version of our lives - the side we want people to see.

And it's not just the photos that we've carefully selected to put online to project the image we want everyone to believe - it's the editing tools too.

Whereas in the past photoshopping was a luxury for the rich and famous, now us common folk have all the tools at our fingerprints - and, my god, don't we just love a Valencia filter?

I have friends who use photo editing apps BEFORE they upload to Instagram and THEN put another filter on before posting.

Now, whenever my friends take a pic I'll say, 'god I look old, whack a filter on that before you upload it, babe.'

'Whack a filter on it' has become a modern day demand - in fact 'filter' has adopted a very different meaning to its dictionary definition.

A word previously used mainly in relation to our coffee preference, now dominates our daily conversations.

How many of us have stalked a friend, a BF's ex or frenemy and commented, 'she looks good but she's clearly filtered it.'

Sadly, we can't whack a filter on before we leave the house - we have to resort to good old trustee make-up and pray for dark lighting in bars.

Just the other day, I was catching up with a male friend when he launched into a rant about girls on dating apps.

"They just never look the same as they do in their pics," he intoned, before downing his expresso.

"Hang on," I chimed in, "you can't just accuse us females of being filter fiends, you men use camera trickery to make yourselves taller and buffer - then you finish it off with a filter too."

"I don't," he lied.

I didn't point out I'd seen Photowonder - a free editing app - on his phone.

Today, photo editing is no longer gender specific - both sexes are guilty.

Interestingly, figures obtained from The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (Baaps) show a 13 per cent rise in cosmetic surgery procedures in the UK in 2015.

Brits underwent 51,140 surgical procedures last year - up from 45,406 the year before.

Although 9 out of 10 procedures were in women - the rise was seen in both genders.

Consultant plastic surgeon and Baaps council member Ash Mosahebi said social media was one of the reasons behind the rise in plastic surgery.

He said: "People are sending pictures of themselves frequently and want to look good."

In years gone by, the media - be it print or makeover programmes on TV - was blamed for influencing folk to go under the knife.

But with circulation figures sadly dropping for many print media outlets and TV viewing figures declining, surely these can no longer be held principally responsible for people's poor body image?

Instagram has an estimated 400 million active users, while Facebook's photo and video-sharing app has added 100 million users in the last nine months.

Yesterday, my gym had an inspirational message on the board outside, it read: "Look like your profile picture in real life - not just online."

No pressure then eh?