Photography project 'Selfie Harm' tasked teens with editing their portraits for social media
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Photography project 'Selfie Harm' tasked teens with editing their portraits for social media

Photographs by Rankin used with permission.

A new photography project called 'Selfie Harm' from British photographer Rankin tasked 15 teenagers with editing portraits of themselves until they believed the images were 'social media ready,' highlighting their internal ideas of 'perfection.' The image editing and filtering was performed with a readily available photo app, one of thousands of similar products offered through popular app stores.

'Today, more so than ever, people are mimicking their idols, making their eyes bigger, their nose smaller and their skin brighter,'Rankin explained, 'and all for social media likes.'

Rankin points toward the media and advertising industries' heavy use of image editing tools, something Rankin has both been involved with as part of his job and has criticized with projects like 'Flawless Girls' and 'Ageless Beauty.'

Though these industries have shifted their editing practices in light of public discussions and backlash, the average person has more access than ever to tools for transforming their own digital appearance. The technology is, among other things, 'encouraging a disturbing culture of homogeneity,' the photographer notes.

Speaking about these apps, Rankin said:

They are free, accessible, easy to use, game-like and (I think) much more dangerous. When doing research for this project, I played with these apps a lot to understand the appeal. They're addictive, very impressive and you can have a lot of fun warping, changing and reimagining your appearance. But it's when people are making an alternative or 'better' social media identity that this becomes a mental health problem.

Rankin has called for public discussion over the growing trend of using the apps to alter one's appearance for social media:

Instead of simply telling people to stop, we need to accept that this is a complex issue; the technology is here and it's here to stay. But we need to challenge the way image manipulation is being used and abused in the wider world. Selfie Harm is my attempt to get people to talk about the issues threatening mental health today.

Photographs by Rankin used with permission. You can find more of Rankin's work on the social media platforms below:

Twitter: @rankinphoto
Facebook: @RankinPhotographyLtd
Instagram: @rankinarchive
Vero: @rankin