- It’s no secret that celebrities edit their photos, as shown by the “unauthorized” video of Khloé Kardashian.
- These altered images can have detrimental effects on the mental health of social media users.
- Editors are also harmed by celebrities, but their jobs require them to maintain the status quo.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more news.
On Monday, an aide accidentally posted an “unauthorized” photo of Khloé Kardashian wearing a bikini and posing near the pool.
It’s a harmless picture, but Kardashian’s team quickly embarked on an online removal after it started popping up on sites like Reddit and Twitter.
“Khloé edited a color photo taken during a private family reunion and by mistake was posted on social media without permission,” KKW Brands chief marketing officer, Tracy Romulus, told page six. “Khloé looks beautiful, but the copyright owner is right not to want to remove an image that is not intended for publication.”
As Kardashian’s team tried to remove all traces of the image, people lamented her disappearance online, complimenting the star’s appearance and contrasting the highly edited shots she usually shares.
But Kardashian’s reaction to the world when she sees her messy image points to a bigger problem with the use of social media, as it can negatively affect mental health and change people’s perceptions of reality.
It is common for people to edit or edit photos for social media
It’s not uncommon for celebrities or unfamiliar users to post edited photos on social media platforms, according to T. Makana Chock, a professor of communication at Syracuse University and media psychology.
“People are prone to selective self-presentation” on social media, she told Insider, sharing only herself from certain angles, using filters or exploiting light to present herself as ideally as possible.
But some users, including celebrities and influencers, are taking it a step further by using photo editing apps to completely change their look.
Chock said that especially famous people tend to edit their photos because their image is often closely related to their brand and income.
“They play a role and to some extent their image actually helps them create and define it,” Chock told Insider.
Viewing altered photos can be detrimental to the mental health of social media users
Chock told the Insider that social media is dangerous because it represents a false illusion of reality.
When you look at a magazine about a celebrity, you know that the star had a team of make-up artists, stylists and photographers to help them look good, as well as editing after shooting to change the image.
But Chock said that when you see a picture of a famous person on social media, those associations do not appear, although it is likely that the star used the same tools to optimize the video.
“There is a perception that this is somehow an achievable ideal,” Chock told Insider.
Altered images on social media can be especially detrimental to young women. In 2017, Jasmine Fardouly, a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Emotional Health at Macquarie University in Australia, studied how often female students were compared to people they saw on social media.
“In our study, comparisons with attractive others on social media were particularly damaging because they put women in a more negative mood and made them feel worse because of their looks,” Fardouly told Insider Studies.
Studies have also shown that edited images increase body image and self-esteem. Chock said that this is especially true for passionate users who often communicate with the posts of their favorite stars.
Celebrities are as much a victim of social media as the perpetrators
It would be easy to blame celebrities for the negative impact of their edited photos, but the reality is more complex, according to Chock.
Social media is a currency for celebrities and the people who influence them and they face constant pressure to look good in the eyes of the public. Because the images they share on social media are part of their brand, anything that doesn’t fit that brand could damage their reputation.
“As an influencer who wants to be successful in what is essentially a business, you are expected to appear in a certain way, to have a certain look,” Chock said, adding that for women it often means putting a focus on their weight.
For example, in 2018, Kardashian shared that her sisters said she should lose weight because her size “harms” their “brand,” noting that her image directly affects the success of her and her family.
Kardashian and her peers are trapped in the social media cycle, unable to break free even if the system harms them and those around them.
Representatives of Khloé Kardashian did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on this story.