Filters and Augmented Reality: Interview with CPCA’s Dr Molton – Blogmas Day 23

The online world provides us many opportunities to escape reality.
Filters and “I Woke Up Like This” culture make it easy for us, behind the screen, to distort our online “reality.”
However, there is definitely a growing awareness of misrepresentation. Both from users, and the platforms on which the filters are present.
Instagram’s move to ban all augmented reality (AR) filters that promote cosmetic medical enhancements is a move welcomed by The Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia (CPCA)

Earlier this year, the CPCA first flagged its concerns about the impact of social media and the growing trivialisation of cosmetic procedures by launching its Get Real campaign. A growing number of patient’s had unrealistic expectations in terms of procedural results, and so Get Real is designed to provide education and accurate information to the Australian public about non- surgical cosmetic enhancements.

I was extremely interested and honoured to have the opportunity to interview President of the CPCA, Dr Michael Molton.

Can you explain why augmented reality filters on Instagram were so misleading?

I think the description says it all. ‘augmented reality’. ARFs produce unrealistic expectations in young vulnerable patients. Some young women, and perhaps men too, have been disinterested when the doctor provides information about risk, they just want to look like the best selfie they took ten minutes ago, for the least amount of money…..oh no not that one…..this one. Wait…..ok, that one’s terrible. Yep, found it, this is the one. So Doc, I want you to make me look like this. By the way, do you do pay later?

Why did the CPCA feel there was such a need for the Get Real campaign?

There was this first occasion when a patient showed me a selfie that had no resemblance to her appearance, and her request was to ‘look like this’. That’s called ‘snap-chat dysmorphia’ and I soon discovered so many of my colleagues were getting similar requests. Get Real makes so much sense in two words. Firstly, come on, you know when you take that mag cut-out to the hairdressers and the stylist looks at you, and he says ‘Can I be honest with you? No one can do that with your hair….’ So let’s get real. Realistic expectations are so important. Plus, someone’s going stick a needle in your face. Several times. What is this? Magic? No, it’s real. Real prescription-only medications, with real side effects and real potential complications, and while not that often, disastrous complications, and I’m not making this up.

CPCA applauds Instagram’s actions to ban AR filters…. What can everyday users on the platform do to be more mindful about the information they share regarding cosmetic enhancement?

Just yesterday I saw a social media platform post of a message advertising ‘we can make you look like your filtered selfie’. The accompanying image ‘Doll Face’ was flawless. To me this is more likely to promote social isolation and feelings of inadequacies when, guess what, it doesn’t happen. So girls, swipe left and give these places the sad face emoji. And when you scroll through all the various shades, sepias, enhancements, before you click send, stop and think before re-posting. Why am I doing this? Perhaps more important, who am I trying to impress and why?

Under-18s on social media have restricted viewing to various content- why is this age group so vulnerable?

That’s a good question. It’s not just Under-18s when it comes to cosmetic medicine. And don’t get me started on too much cocooning of our young people in the name of ‘protecting’ them. The more you do this, the more you drive things underground. I mean, look at the stance on concert pill testing. Our young people are not stupid. But the problem is, nobody, not even over 18s, can find out any proper information on cosmetic injectables. The Government won’t let you find out. While well-meaning, because the medications used are real prescription-only medications, the Government doesn’t want these products ‘unnecessarily promoted’. Well sorry, there’s a difference between ‘unnecessary promotion’ and available, essential patient information so the public can make informed decisions. On the other hand, our pollies are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We can’t be pitching prescription drugs willy nilly.

We all know the dangers (and temptation) of Dr Google… If someone is interested in non-surgical cosmetic enhancements, where do you suggest they start their research?

Lately, I‘ve seen a big change. All this distorted lip pumping and cheeks that close people’s eyes when they smile seem to be getting the big thumbs down. I‘d like to think, through initiatives like the CPCA’s Get Real campaign, the ‘fad’ of ‘augmented reality’ is becoming more like last week‘s favourite pass-time, SUPs, Hot Yoga, cross-fit and dare I say it… extensions. Patients are coming in, and the first thing they say is ‘you’re not going to make me look like one of those freaks on tv are you?’. Now they are asking, ‘how much experience have you had, what training did you do, am I a good candidate’. I don’t have to tell people to do their research. They already know.

Thank you to both Caroline of Raw Vision Marketing and Dr Molton.

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