This is not my face, or filters on Instagram vs. reality. Should “beauty” overlays be banned?

I took a stab at the topic of filters on Instagram. Should they be banned? Or is it enough for online creators, as well as us — the people who watch their profiles — to change our approach to what we see on social media a bit?

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

I think I’ve found a new hobby. For a while now, I’ve been checking how my face looks after applying (very popular these days) filters on Instagram. And… Honestly? I’m often unable to recognize myself. The filters completely change the features of the face — most often they slim it down or accentuate the cheekbones, on top of that they smooth the skin, enlarge the lips, and shape and fill in the eyebrows. Some of them also allow you to add a tan or freckles. I rarely share the results with my friends, but you could really make a gallery of “50 (totally different) faces of Asia” out of this. Or anyone else who would start testing filters on Instagram. I laugh about it now, but I know that just a few years ago — when I was a teenager — I would have looked at it very differently. Plus, I’m aware of the negative impact filters have on other people.

Should filters disappear from Instagram?

I’ve already been involved in a discussion several times about whether filters on Instagram (and other apps) should be banned. Also, I’ve been asked for my opinions on people who don’t show a real, but an “enhanced” (whatever that means) version of themselves. This may surprise someone, but — despite the fact that I don’t like it myself — I don’t think that removing filters completely is an absolute necessity. Let’s remember that filters are not all the same. Some of them do not change our appearance but serve entertainment purposes (games, challenges, funny overlays…). I’m however in favor of taking care of a few things so that they stop being as harmful to some of the recipients as they are now. One of them is the need to report that a filter has been used by someone. What else?

Let’s compare applying filters to your face to using aesthetic medicine treatments. If we want to change something about our appearance, we have every right to do so — because the most important thing is to feel good in our bodies. But let’s not hide it. Although it might seem that plastic surgery is no longer a taboo subject (hello, it’s 2022), there are still many celebrities, people famous in social media and beyond, who deny that they “improved” their appearance with a scalpel. By doing so, it leads to lowered self-esteem among (at least some) of their viewers. The same may be true after you have reworked a photo in popular graphics programs, apps, or after applying filters. Want to smooth out your skin or cover up a pimple that unexpectedly appeared on your face? Cool, I get it. But be honest with yourself and your followers. Don’t pretend that you didn’t combine or manipulate your photos. I guarantee that many people will appreciate such — let’s call it — honest approach.

Image by Webster2703 from Pixabay

Moreover, you should definitely avoid statements like: I look so bad today that I can’t show myself to you without a filter. I do not want to scare you. Because what is a person who, for example, is struggling with skin lesions, has a swollen face or hasn’t washed their hair that day supposed to think? Should they lock themselves in the house? And the best thing is to shut the windows? It really is time for us to make friends and befriend such a term as tenderness — towards ourselves as well as other people. After all, we are only human. We are far from perfect. Our skin has a certain texture, while our bodies have folds, stretch marks, etc. We change, we age. And sometimes we just don’t want to or don’t have the strength to be (warning, I hate this term) the best version of ourselves. And that’s ok. You don’t have to become it by force — because someone else tells you to, because society demands it. You are not inferior / worse or less valuable / valuable because of it.

Filters on Instagram vs. reality

There is one more thing worth noting. As users and users of social media, led by Instagram, we should and should be aware that not everything we see on the app is the same in reality. A few years ago it was talked about in the context of the “perfect life” (constant travel, eating out, new clothes or perpetually polite children), while now it is mainly in relation to appearance. Remember, there are many factors that affect what you see in a photo, including the right pose, light, camera settings, and clothing, specifically color and cut. And then, of course, there are the filters. Therefore, the worst thing you can do to yourself in this case is to compare yourself to images from social media.

So-called Reels on Instagram, in which girls take on the subject of popular filters, are now becoming increasingly popular. Some approach it with distance and laughingly admit that from now on they will pretend to look like this in real life. Others, however, do not hide their surprise and sometimes even indignation at the extent to which filters distort reality.

Photo by Pixabay

In one of a viral video we can see how the author said: this is not my face. She admitted that she was shocked. She used the filter because it stood out with nice colors. She was not aware that it would completely change her face. It’s difficult and confusing for her — when she sees a filter on another person, she’s not aware that the person doesn’t look like that in real life, she automatically compares herself to them. And that unfortunately makes her feel bad about herself.

I’m afraid filters aren’t going away in the near future. That’s why it’s worth changing your attitude, which of course is not as easy as it might seem. If seeing (seemingly) perfect faces and silhouettes on social media negatively affects you, maybe a good move would be to click “unfollow” and disassociate yourself from the content that harms you?

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