The selfie trend took the smartphone world by storm years ago, prompting many smartphone makers to build what they think is the perfect selfie camera. The madness continues today, but just how accurate are the photos we take of ourselves? If you just can’t stop looking at your nose and obsessing over its size, you’re not alone. Apparently, some people are so upset with how huge their beaks look that they actually seek out plastic surgeons for a nose job. However, a new study identifies what it calls “the selfie effect,” which basically just means that photos we take ourselves tend to make our noses look much bigger than they actually are.
The study was published in the journal JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery. The researchers cited a poll conducted by the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, which said that 42% of surgeons reported in 2016 that patients came in requesting nose jobs because they wanted to take better selfies and photos for posting on social media.
Unfortunately, the issue is getting worse because when the poll was repeated this year, 55% of surgeons said patients were coming in for nose jobs based on their selfies or social media photos. Based on this realization, the research team led by Brittany Ward set out to create a mathematical model explaining this apparent selfie effect, which causes people to think they need a nose job.
They looked at faces as “a collection of parallel planes that are perpendicular to the main camera axis.” The researchers compared the nose sizes on people whose photos that were taken from 12 inches away, like a selfie is, and also from 5 feet away, which is a standard distance used in portraiture. From all their comparisons, they were able to mathematically demonstrate the selfie effect: that photos taken from a close distance distort the size of our noses. Based on their findings, they estimate that selfies make our noses look about 30% bigger than they actually are.
The researchers explained that the nasal distortion occurs when a camera lens is moved close to someone’s face. Placing the camera lens so close to one’s face makes their nose seem bigger than it is to other people sitting an average distance away from you looking at you. The effect is similar to how sizes are distorted based on how far away you are from whatever it is you’re looking at, like looking at the same thing from close up and from far away. In the case of noses, selfies make them look thicker and wider than they actually are, and that’s a problem because plastic surgeons say people generally prefer smaller noses.
Thus, due to the selfie effect, the research team is advising that patients avoid using photos they’ve taken themselves to determine whether or not they want a nose job.