A psychologist has warned of a mounting pressure in society to look good on social media, to the point where many are willing to endanger their health for the sake of appearing flawless in the public eye.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, they said the desire to impress others is often driven by the effect of influencers on social media.
This ties in with the belief that the more followers one has, the more socially accepted he or she will be.
Mohd Suhaimi Mohamad, a psychologist from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said such acts are a way of reducing fears and boosting self-esteem.
“It is possible that they are aware of the consequences if they choose the quick and easy way, but their desperation and the pressure around them indirectly becomes an encouragement to do whatever it takes to be beautiful,” he said.
His comments follow the circulation of a video on Twitter showing a group of women being injected with vitamin C in a car. The procedure was said to be for the purpose of whitening their skin.
The clip sparked a mixed reaction on social media, including criticism from medical experts who condemned the act as dangerous.
“Their desperation and the pressure around them indirectly becomes an encouragement to do whatever it takes to be beautiful.”
But Suhaimi said such a mentality would not change if individuals do not receive the right treatment. He also warned of a possible deterioration in their emotional levels.
He said the correct way to boost one’s self-confidence is to be knowledgeable about product ingredients and to seek medical consultation from experts.
“Don’t fall into the marketing traps you see in advertisements saying you will get the intended results,” he added.
“The ingredients used in the product could have long-term negative effects.”
‘Consult certified experts’
Dr Wan Syazli Rodzaian Wan Ahmad, a consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon, said there exist many beauty products with vague and questionable ingredients.
“Use the internet wisely to find information on the ingredients used by certain brands,” he said.
“There is a lot to be understood about the ingredients that can bring about harmful side effects.”
He also advised consultation with medical experts who have received professional training.
“Look for experts with letters of credentialing and privileging (LCP) certificates who are qualified to perform aesthetic procedures and treatments,” he said, adding that these certificates are approved by the health ministry as well.
While the cost of uncertified procedures is much lower, he said, these could leave long-term effects.
“Don’t make decisions blindly to the point where it brings harm to yourself.”
“I had a patient who came to the hospital after experiencing severe complications and side effects after getting a cosmetic procedure done by a doctor with no LCP certification,” he said.
“Even if the patients think they are informed about the aesthetic field, I would still encourage them to get detailed information from experts before coming to a decision.
“It is important for them to have this knowledge.”
He added that while women aged 20 to 60 comprise the bulk of those seeking cosmetic procedures, there is also interest in such operations from men.
Qathrunnada Mahmud, a beauty consultant at Mary Kay, said many women become victims of counterfeit beauty products.
“We understand that every woman wants to look beautiful, but this has to be balanced with knowledge.
“Don’t make decisions blindly to the point where it brings harm to yourself,” she said. “This will only become an unhealthy habit which could grow into an extreme obsession.”