TEEN HEALTH Published September21, 2015 By Milafel Hope Dacanay

Leading Psychiatrist Warns Potential Effect of Retouching Images among Teen Girls

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Most teen girls are retouching their images before uploading them into social media, and that's not good news, says one of the UK's leading psychiatrists.

According to Dr Pippa Hugo, who works as a child and adolescent psychiatrist of St. George's Eating Disorder Service in Southwest London, as many as 9 out of 10 teenage girls would "doctor" their photographs to make themselves appear thinner. Also known as airbrushing, it's a process wherein images are enhanced or altered using applications such as Photoshop. This procedure is popularly used in both digital and printed magazines. Not only that, the doctor claimed that this behavior has already become acceptable among the age group.

Dr Hugo, who is currently on tour with colleagues to talk about body issues and eating disorders, believed that image retouching is rooted on fears of body image. Teenage girls, for instance, do not want to be cyberbullied because of their size. However, they also cannot quit social media as it allows them to feel as if they belong to their age group and peers.

Dr Hugo stresses that while young people are eager to share their most beautiful appearance, it's not an entirely true appearance due to the alteration. Further, this phenomenon may increase the struggle of teenage girls of being accepted and feeling normal since they're forced to look and change in a particular manner.


With a skewed perception of their body image, many teenage girls are therefore at risk of developing eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa and anorexia. Based on the statistics of National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, anorexia is now third of the most common chronic disease among teens. More than 50% of teenage girls, meanwhile, have bad weight control behaviors, including drinking laxatives or skipping meals.

Although the problem is more common among girls, the doctor also warns the growing rate of males who have eating disorders. 

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