British adults spend collective £4 BILLION a year to take 'perfect profile picture'

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    Young woman taking a selfie

    The perfect shot… Not easy but truly important for many (Image: Getty)

    Another 20 percent have even travelled to “Insta-worthy” holiday locations just to achieve a desired photo – while others have bought new clothes, paid for beauty treatments and booked tables in expensive restaurants to get “the look”.

    The study, commissioned by dating app Plenty of Fish found that individually this amounts to £269 per person per year, but it’s not just money that’s invested–- it’s time too.

    The average adult spends seven hours a month taking and editing pictures before posting them online.

    It also emerged that six in ten feel pressure to conform to digital beauty ideals.

    Plenty of Fish has partnered with behavioural psychologist Jo Hemmings to provide guidance on boosting self-confidence and encourage Britons to embrace their natural selves when it comes to their online presence and dating.

    The partnership is the latest move by the dating platform to help to tackle unrealistic digital beauty standards after it banned heavily filtered pictures from its app in 2019.

    It is truly alarming to see just how much time, money and effort is invested to achieve an unrealistic ideal of beauty

    Kate MacLean, resident dating expert at Plenty of Fish

    Jo Hemmings said: “With so much emphasis on idealised looks — from reality TV shows like ‘Too Hot to Handle’, to Instagram ‘perfection’ — it’s no wonder singles want to present the best version of themselves on dating apps.

    “But to go to extreme lengths to create an unrealistic image of themselves sadly removes what makes every individual unique and stand out to a potential partner.

    “It’s also likely to distort a date’s expectations of what you actually do look like when you meet in-person, which can make a first date unnecessarily awkward, stressful and disappointing.

    “With 59 percent of singles feeling pressure to conform to digital beauty ideals, it’s time to lower the pressure and encourage singles to embrace their natural selves to maximise the opportunity of meeting the right partner.”

    The research found living through a pandemic has exacerbated the pressure to look a certain way, with more than half of adults (55 percent) feeling lockdown has had a negative impact on their self-esteem.

    More than seven in ten spent more time scrolling through the curated feeds of influencers and celebrities whilst stuck at home, leading 67 percent to edit their photos and use virtual filters more than they used to before the pandemic.

    In fact, 61 percent said that working from home and seeing themselves on work video calls has made them much more aware of their looks than they were before lockdown.

    A further 46 percent admit to using built-in virtual filters and backgrounds on these calls to improve the lighting and enhance the setting and their appearances.

    Hesitant to reveal their more natural selves online, 42 percent of those polled add a filter or pre-set to all their photos, 41 percent brighten the lighting to be more flattering, and 34 percent erase spots or blemishes on their skin.

    Nearly a quarter (24 percent) even regularly edit their body shape to be smaller or curvier, according to the OnePoll figures.

    The research showed that surprisingly 40 percent of men admitted to editing their body shape and face in online images, compared to 29 percent of women.

    Video call

    Video calls have enhanced people’s insecurities about their appearance (Image: Getty)

    Easy access to photo-editing apps is among the top reasons Britons edit their online images (32 percent), as they are attempting to keep up with others who edit their photos (30 percent), and disliking every natural photo taken of them (30 percent).

    Among singletons, 28 percent of dating app users believe their search for love will be negatively impacted if they don’t hide their perceived flaws.

    Nearly half (46 percent) get more nervous for first dates out of concern that their potential suitor won’t find them as attractive in person as their photos suggest, or, on the contrary, that their date won’t match their expectations (42 percent).

    But despite the time, money and effort that goes into creating a digital profile that they are proud of, 64 percent say they’d much rather see a natural, unedited selfie on a potential love interest’s social media or dating app profile, rather than a heavily-filtered image.

    The number increases when it comes to Gen Z, with 77 percent preferring not to see heavily filtered photos on a romantic interest’s profile.

    Kate MacLean, resident dating expert at Plenty of Fish, said: “While we know the realities of photo-editing apps and filters, it is truly alarming to see the research and just how much time, money and effort are invested to achieve an unrealistic ideal of beauty.

    “This is especially surprising knowing that 64 percent of singles prefer to see unedited, natural images of potential dates.

    “In 2019 we lowered the pressure for those using our app by banning heavily filtered images from profiles for this very reason and now, we want to take it a step further by encouraging Brits to embrace all that makes them unique and show their authenticity when it comes to their dating profile.”

    Dating app

    Dating app users prefer to see people’s natural looks but don’t apply the same rule to themselves (Image: Getty)

    TOP 10 WAYS BRITONS TRY TO “PERFECT” THEIR PROFILE:

    1. Use a filter or frame on a social media app (34 percent)
    2. Buy new clothes (28 percent)
    3. Get their hair and make-up done professionally (23 percent)
    4. Have beauty treatments (23 percent)
    5. Use a face/body editing app (22 percent)
    6. Stage a photoshoot (21 percent)
    7. Travel to Insta-worthy holiday locations (20 percent)
    8. Buy and use lighting equipment (20 percent)
    9. Book a table at a popular, expensive restaurant (17 percent)
    10. Purchase a premium subscription to a photo-editing app (16 percent)

    FIVE TIPS TO BOOST YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE ONLINE:

    1. Choose a photo where you feel at your happiest/most relaxed. When you’re feeling good about yourself, you tend to have an inner glow that shines through photos – especially spontaneous rather than posed images. It’s worth asking a trusted friend to take a few candid shots of you doing an activity or simply something you love to do. Ask their advice on which photo best represents the real you.

    2. Perspective is very important. Kindness and compassion are qualities that will make you stand out as a potential date and can often be seen in a smile or an eye gaze. If you are posting digitally enhanced photos on your profile, that don’t really ‘feel’ or look like you in real life, try to imagine how you would feel if the situation was reversed? Imagine that situation and use your empathy to see that from the reverse perspective. Empathy can help to boost your own self-confidence.

    3. Get comfortable with not matching with everyone you choose. Rejection – which is simply not being matched with someone you like – is inevitable, but it shouldn’t be a burden. It should be something exciting, that may lead you to meet someone very special in your life. Appreciate that you may not be someone’s type and if you don’t match in this instance, it’s not a personal rejection of you.
    4. Keep the “essence of you” in your profile pictures. It’s what top photographers look for when they are taking pictures of celebrities and it works. You don’t have to be smiling or laughing, but it’s good to look absorbed in your passion, whether that is a few shots of you doing something with your friends – festivals, holidays, sports or you alone looking intently at a painting in an art gallery. It shows that you are not just focused on finding a partner, but you have other social interests too.
    5. Set yourself goals. Recognise that you have value and the more goals and achievements that you gain, however small or insignificant they may feel, will add to both your outward confidence and your inner self-esteem. Set yourself small goals for mental alertness, physical fitness or emotional stability. Become the person that you want to be, and that confidence will shine through far more in a real photo, than any filter can possibly give you.



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