4 beauty content creators on how they feel about filters
Harmless fun or something more sinister?
By Samantha McMeekin
September 17 2020
The dishonest portrayal of women’s bodies and faces is one that’s long been reprimanded for warping our perception of 'beauty'. And yet, despite the flawless legs, toned tummies and impeccable complexions often found and blamed for unrealistic representation in airbrushed magazines, many of us continue to modify ourselves via social media filters.
But can we even draw a line between the two? Is adding a little ‘Golden Glow’ to our morning selfie the same as cinching the waist of a celebrity for a globally renowned masthead? Or have we perhaps become so accustomed to altered images on platforms like Instagram that it’s only to be expected.
When it comes to beauty, skin-smoothing, tan-enhancing and lip filler-emulating filters are front and centre. But so too are virtual try-on filters that let you test the latest lip colour without leaving your house.
We couldn’t think of anyone better to weigh in on this discussion than the people who use these platforms most, and so we asked some of our favourite beauty content creators how they feel about filters. Here’s what they had to say.
“It’s a tricky question as everyone reacts and responds differently to filters. I personally think they’re a bit of fun, they’re not at all something I take seriously, and I don’t use them all that much when I post publicly. Some are absolutely hilarious, some are weird and some are terrifying – so for the most part, I like to play around with them, send videos to family and friends using the funnier ones and take it pretty light-heartedly.
However, that’s just my take on them. I’m definitely sensitive to those who have a deeper, potentially darker reaction to them, where they might be damaged by filters – specifically those that augment your face into a big-eyed, smooth-skinned, puffy-lipped person. If filters are making the user feel less than, or like they need to look a certain way to fit in or that those filters are the new modern standard of beauty; they’re absolutely not. Bottom line, if filters or social media in general is affecting your mental health or making you feel negative in any way – it’s an important moment to ask yourself, why? And maybe take a break from using them, or stop altogether? I’m no expert, but that’s what I’d do.
Using them or having this discussion is a nice moment to open up some inner dialogue with yourself – and help people on their journey of self-acceptance and self-love because we all offer something unique and special. Filters morph us all into looking similar and sometimes strange, in a way that’s not real or entirely attainable. We’ve all wanted to look different, compared ourselves to someone else but the moment when we can stop doing that, or do it less, that’s a good day. The day we can all use filters light-heartedly - or not use them at all and not worry - that’s a good day. Authenticity is way cooler than a filter anyway.” –@aliwhittle_
"I think filters can be a fun way to express ourselves, and they can elevate an image. However, it should be used sparingly. Personally, I believe filters contribute to many mental health issues and self-doubt. I know I’ve had too many instances where I see a certain picture and doubt myself and my capabilities. In times like these, it has been important, but sometimes difficult, to remind myself that what I see online is not necessarily reality. With that, I believe disclosing the use of filters should be normalised." –@neehaaa_
“I think if you’re on the app and using the app, it’s your responsibility to understand how the app works. I have no issues with filters; they’re fun, artistic and ‘soften’ everything without drastically changing your appearance. I’ve been using similar techniques for YEARS to improve my photos. When I was a young lass and getting them developed, I'd try and use arty filters in ‘paint’, or just get them all processed in ‘sepia tone’.
Consumers just need to be educated and look for the signs of filters (I love that on Instagram Stories it says what filter someone has used in the upper left corner), and remember that no one actually looks like that. I have a huge issue with altering your body in pics but as people get more switched onto these tactics, it’s pretty easy to spot when someone has done this.” –@kelly_mccarren
“To be entirely honest with you, I don’t have a problem with them. I use them. I love them. They keep me entertained. There’s a new one every day, BUT (big BUT), here’s my reasoning; realistically studies show that we spend hours on social media (I struggle to think they needed a study to prove that) – these hours may be to interact with friends and the rest of the world through Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook or a variety of other channels. Across all of these, we experience a hefty load of photoshop, filters and edits etc. and really there are far too many of them out there to shut down. So instead my answer is – yes societies perceptions of what we should look like may be skewed by filters but weren’t they already by other types of media?
Instead, I think people should focus the time spent on telling people to not use filters on educating people to be aware that what they see on social media, be it a photo or a filter, none are what you should expect to look like. Educate people to question the effects of social media- that is to check in with themselves and ask – "why am I following this person, what do I enjoy?", "am I comparing myself to this person?", "Is this a good use of my time?".
That is where we can learn to not resist this technological change as a society, but also, not to experience an insane amount of social harm. ‘Cause lets be real, tech developers are never going to slow down for us.” –@theroject
Main image credit: @desiperkins, @kendalljenner and @sofiarichie
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