Beauty filters on TikTok and Instagram – let’s talk about our love-hate relationship with them

Most people didn’t need scientists to help put two and two together. A movement took off, denouncing the filters. “This is crazy! That’s not how I look!” Food influencer Taylor Squeglia says in an Instagram viral reel, in which she uses a popular filter called “Shiny Fox.” The filter smoothes the skin, dilates her lips, distorts the shape of her nose, changes the angle of her eyes. , lifts cheekbones, shrinks chin, softens hair and lengthens lashes. “Filters are the problem behind so much anxiety and self-doubt,” she wrote in her post.

“This is not my face”, videos exist by the thousands and often go viral. There’s an uncomfortable irony about them: the virality of these videos can be attributed to the well-worded criticisms and visual shock of the filter. But undeniably, viewers are also drawn to the unreal and enchanting vision of a woman whose features were made to look “perfect” according to a computer program.

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I started using filters on some of my Instagram photos – I found some free off-brand apps that made my skin smoother and less red. Then I wanted to add better lashes. Slightly thicker eyebrows. It saved me time, I thought. If I hadn’t used the filters, I would have been wearing makeup that morning, just to be able to take some decent pictures. Instead, I spared myself the frustration of accidentally drawing a cat’s eye the size of a hockey stick. I did the same thing in Zoom meetings: no base, which meant no double cleaning afterwards, just the “tweak my appearance” button, turned up. “Your skin is amazing!” commented my colleague. I felt fake: what he was filming about was actually fake. Why is pretending with a computer program different from pretending with foundation or a better skincare routine, or access to a better face or genes?

Looking under the filter inevitably makes me feel bad. Looking at myself without a filter also makes me feel bad. Looking at myself after I put on a lot of makeup and do my hair right makes me feel good for a minute. Then it feels bad.

“I love these subtle filters, it’s called ‘Rosy Touch’, and it is,” muses KP, a comedian, in a TikTok mocking filter viral video. “It’s just a touch of rosy, and all the characteristics of the woman you will never be, no matter how hard you try, no matter what makeup you wear, no matter what … “On the phone, KP says the genius of filters is that they make you feel worse, but still addictive. “He gives you the features of the woman you will never be. It is painful to look into your own eyes and see them being so different. “Yet! We are fascinated by ourselves.

“It’s very Narcissus looking into a river,” says KP, seeing himself under the effect of the filter.

Beauty filters want us to all look the same, meaning that we look vaguely white, rich and thin. “I’ve noticed that a lot of the things used to make you look conventionally pretty have made me look lighter,” says Diamond, a 29-year-old whose Instagram Reel demonstrated this phenomenon went viral. “Even those that seem to be smoothing out your blemishes are still making my skin lighter.” Some filters, he notes, do not lighten her skin but make her lift the bridge of her nose or lighten her eyes. “It’s all to fit the European beauty standard,” she says. “I feel there are many other different types of beauty.”

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