One girl spends her days lightening her skin and contouring her nose, while an overbearing mother fat-shames her daughter into doing THIS insane procedure.
Wednesday's episode of MTV's "True Life" followed three individuals who are obsessed with looking like a perfect, filtered version of themselves -- so obsessed, in fact, that they're willing to go to any length, pay any price, sacrifice their physical/mental health and jeopardize their relationships to obtain an unrealistic idea of beauty.
All three women who appeared on Wednesday's episode admitted to being obsessed with taking photos, editing their photos and doing whatever they can to make sure they look like those edited photos in real life. They gave us a peek into their lives and into the insecurities that led them to seek this idea of "perfection."
First, we met Bianca, an 18-year-old college student who works part time at her mother's boutique. Her sister -- who she feels has the "perfect" face and "perfect" body -- models the clothes, while Bianca does a lot of the behind-the-scenes work. Bianca dreams of one day being a "beauty influencer."
While Bianca's mom never explicitly uses the word fat, she does make her daughter feel "less than" because she's curvier than her model-esque sister. She also unapologetically places a lot of importance on outer beauty.
"I think it's very beneficial for my daughters to be attractive, and then work on your intelligence," Bianca's mom told the camera. "To me, beauty's not everything, but it's the thing that gets you invited to the party. I think that if you're a woman, you should know that."
"I don't think Bianca's confident in her looks right now," she continued. "I'm her mom, and I even told her, 'I wouldn't be surprised if you had that ugly duckling story. It's not that you can't lose weight.' I'm just trying to get her to see things more clearly."
As a result, Bianca has turned to the immediate gratification and imaginary escape of using photo filters available on apps like Instagram and Snapchat. Her favorite is the "Snapchat heart filter" because it slims her chin, enlarges her eyes, smooths her skin and plumps her lips. But Bianca doesn't want that look to go away when she closes the app, and she's willing to try any procedure to obtain that.
"I do wanna look a little unnatural," she said. "I wanna look like I've had work done. It's an express way to achieve the look that I want, and that's how I want all things to be."
Bianca decided to go through with getting three vials of Kybella injected into her "double chin" (Kybella is an injectable treatment used to destroy fat cells). Each vial was $550. She also went ahead and sprung for one full syringe of filler to her lips, which cost her $700. She walked out of the facility in immense pain and down $2,350. A few days later, she met up with friends, who didn't really notice a difference in her appearance.
Naturally, Bianca was upset. Her friends expressed concern over her growing obsession, but she didn't really understand the worry. "I will continue to do more despite anyone's opinion or thought," she told them.
After the procedure, Bianca's mom said to her, "This is something, Bianca, I always knew you would do. I'm not surprised. Not at all. You're not perfect, babe! You're not gonna be perfect."
Turning her sights to both her daughters, she added, "Both of you girls be natural beauties, but a few little treatments, and you guys will be the bomb."
We also met Javonda, a 22-year-old black girl who grew up in a predominantly white area. Javonda began experiencing insecurities related to her race in middle school. She and her twin sister recalled always being kept toward the back in dance class.
"I hated being black. I hated the way I looked. I hated it so much," Jovanda said. "The guys -- they were just interested in the girls that never really looked like me. They were different races, but they were never black."
Jovanda grew to resent her skin color so much that she began bleaching it. She also turned to makeup (she's now a freelance makeup artist), telling the camera, "When I first started wearing makeup, I definitely wore it to change myself." Jovanda's obsession with makeup grew simultaneously with her obsession with filters.
Jovanda explained she fell in love with filters because they "take away the race that you naturally are."
"When it came to race, it wasn't just about the color of my skin, it was also about the features that I was born with," she explained, telling her twin sister she'd get a nose job tomorrow if the opportunity presented itself.
"I think I rely on beauty so much for confidence rather than my personality or anything I can offer because of the world and how big of a stress they put on beauty," Jovanda said. "I always feel like I need to adjust something. I look on my phone, and I look at a photo that is filtered and I'm like, 'I wanna look like that.'"
Despite her sister's concerns, Jovanda couldn't promise she'd stop using filters or editing her photos.
The third individual we met -- 20-year-old Alana -- is a growing social media and beauty influencer on YouTube and Instagram. Not long ago, Alana uploaded a video of herself getting a nonsurgical nose job, and the video went viral. She started doing more noninvasive beauty procedures to her face, which resulted in free treatments. And that "cycle," as she calls it, continues today.
"I use Facetune as inspiration for what I wanna look like in real life," she told her parents, who desperately want her to have an "academic" career. But Alana's got other plans. She wants to turn her viral cosmetic procedure videos into a full-blown career.