How often do you use different filters available before posting a picture on social media?
Sarina: Everything in moderation. I do not use many filters often, although I admit to using applications and filters to make myself appear glowy or make my skin look blemish-free, like when I was younger. I sometimes use beauty filters on TikTok and Snapchat because they are fun and not to hide who I am.
Young girls are especially susceptible to filters because studies have proven that over 60% of teen girls feel bad about how they look in real life, and a percentage of it can be traced back to Instagram. The result is they feel ashamed to post pictures of themselves without a filter. As long as you are aware that a filter is not how a person looks in real life, you can have fun with it.
Anshika: Coming from a time of sepia, sierra, and B&W filters to a time where you can entirely change your facial and body features using different apps, I must admit I have used these beauty enhancement apps in the past because it was fun to do so. However, now that I have grown to appreciate my natural features and skin colour, I do not use filters in a context of making myself look better. I like to keep my pictures raw and authentic.
Anish: I used to use a lot of filters in the beginning due to my own insecurities. However, now that I have come to know about how everything is just delusional over the internet with unrealistic beauty standard and see more of the beauty within the skin texture, I don’t use filters anymore.
Rojisha: Well, I use filters mostly while posting stories on Instagram because they are more fun. Of course, I edit and retouch my pictures once in a while but that is mostly for fun.
Wangden: I think I try to tweak settings like exposure, saturation but I never put filters that change my features.
Have filters made us forget what real skin looks like?
Sarina: People use filters to “beautify” their looks by enhancing, recolouring, and reshaping their faces and bodies that can only exist online. I have seen a few influencers out there who post their real skin to motivate self-love and self-acceptance, but most people still use heavy filters. This leads to unrealistic beauty standards and impractical expectations from dermatological and surgical procedures.
Anshika: I see both kinds of people – people who use excessive filters and people who advocate for normalising real skin. We easily get influenced by what we see on social media, so it is important to wisely choose who we follow or look up to. We spend a lot of time looking at the camera available in beauty apps which shows the artificially constructed perfect version of ourselves. Before we forget what real skin looks like, let’s look at ourselves in the mirror more and smile at our perfect imperfections.
Anish: I think majority of people are still hooked on this idea of porcelain perfect skin leaning them to filters. Like I said, with this unrealistic beauty standards, specially within the beauty community, lots of people are still not comfortable in their own skin.
Rojisha: Yes, I see people posting with filters quite often to a point where we have rejected the reality of our skin and its texture.
Wangden: I think filters have become very common on social media to the point that no one thinks twice before using them. I am not sure we’ve forgotten what real skin looks like but I think we have gotten to a point where we assume that unblemished, smooth skin is the norm when it isn’t.
Many people these days are into botox and fillers to recreate the filter look. How do you view this?
Sarina: Personally, I think that botox and fillers are innocuous when done in moderation. These still do not make one look flawless, and people sometimes tend to go overboard with these treatments. Some studies have confirmed a correlation between filters and a desire to get treatments. The more time you spend online using filters to plump your lips or smooth your skin, the more treatments you will want to get to achieve that look in real life which is not possible.
Anshika: We live in a society where beauty is stereotyped, and augmented reality is slowly taking over. I do not criticise people who are into botox and fillers as they are only trying to fit into the standard of what’s deemed attractive for their own peace, nor do I blame people who offer the services as they are contributing to the market demand. The fault is not in the people, the fault is in our conventional society.
Anish: Everything’s temporary. I think we should start accepting the fact that beauty isn’t going to stay forever. Talking about botox and fillers, I think I have no judgement on it because that’s an individual’s personal preference. If that helps people feel more comfortable, go for it. However, I don’t think anyone should feel obliged to do it.
Rojisha: I think it is a personal choice. Some like it and some don’t. I have no such strong judgment on it as long as it is done well.
Wangden: No comment. I know nothing about botox and fillers.
Are beauty filters setting unrealistic beauty standards, especially for young girls?
Sarina: Yes. I usually get clients who show me pictures of people they want to look like, especially celebrities who either have a lot of professional makeup on or the photos themselves are heavily photoshopped or have filters. It gets a little tedious trying to explain to the clients that the expectations of these results are unreasonable and unrealistic. I realise that this is a sensitive topic, but these filters could also lead to selfie/filter dysmorphia in which one is not content about how they look in real life, comparing themselves to their filtered, airbrushed selves. This leads to lower self-esteem and self-confidence, especially in young girls and women.
Anshika: Repeated use of filters is creating a new normal for how we think our faces should look and how we should present ourselves to the world. If we are okay with how we look when we are by ourselves, it should not be hard to show our authentic selves to the world. After all, self-appreciation is more important than how the world views us.
Anish: Yes. Beauty filters are establishing unrealistic beauty standards. The temptation of filtered flawless skin with the press of a few buttons is making most people use filters addictively. This is making young girls compare their real self with the filtered version to an unrealistic beauty standard which doesn’t even exist.
Rojisha: It is definitely setting unrealistic beauty standards. Before, it used to be highly edited pictures in magazines which were not as accessible so it didn’t have a larger effect but now with social media and its growing popularity among teens and young adults, reality has been completely distorted. We have accepted and internalised the beauty standards set by social media influencers with their heavily edited and filtered pictures making us question our own reality and our view of the definition of beauty as a whole. It leaves us questioning our self-worth.
Wangden: I can’t speak for young girls but even for myself, I think I make a very conscious effort to never use filters that change the way I look because I understand how dangerous it can be. Having access to these tools that can so easily mask all our insecurities perpetuates a cycle where we are always trying to hide them and never come to terms with ourselves. I applaud all influencers and celebrities, especially women, because I know how over-scrutinised they are for their looks, who make conscious efforts to post unfiltered, undoctored images and videos of themselves. I think it’s important for us to be reminded that all the people we see on our little screens are real people with real skin and real features who have their own insecurities too.
Is the trend of filters here to stay?
Sarina: Unfortunately, yes. There are some filters that seem harmless and fun, but some filters might warp our perception of beauty. Especially with so much screen time, it is easy to get warped in the world of filters. I read in a magazine once – “Filters are here to stay as long as IRL beauty standards remain.”
Anshika: I believe so. With the wide usage of filters and demand of enhanced filter options, it may be difficult for social media platforms to lose on this money-making function. The best we can do as social media users is to not normalise the unrealistic beauty standards set by Artificial Intelligence (AI), but rather treasure our natural beauty.
Anish: It could stay a while but I don’t think it’s going to stay forever. Especially with a lot of influencers promoting real skin and awaking people about the unrealistic beauty standards within the community, we are getting to see more youths getting comfortable in their own skin.
Rojisha: I think everything has to run its course. The whole idea of beauty standards has been challenged in recent days. With celebrities posting makeup-free pictures and their struggle to keep up with the beauty standards have clearly been welcomed and praised by many. The more people are aware of the impact that it has on mental health, the shorter it is going to stay.
Wangden: Definitely. The technology is only going to get better and harder to notice.