The filters on social media platforms have come a long way from adorable dog ears and flower crowns (Snapchat, remember?) to the ones that can magically make us look flawless. These may make us look better (according to beauty stereotypes) than ever before but feel worse than we’ve ever felt. Whether you want to look fairer or tanner, want to slim down your nose or change its shape completely, smoothen out your skin or add some make-up, you will find a filter to ‘fix’ every ‘flaw’ or so it will have you believe.
Taking a picture, editing it, and uploading it—while you wait for your followers to validate it with a ‘like’—has become the norm. A 2020 study by the global consultancy firm Edelman Data & Intelligence found that 80 per cent of girls surveyed have used a filter or digitally altered their appearance while posting photos online by the time they turned 13. Why would they do that? Well, the reason is simple—unrealistic beauty standards.
At the first glance, the social media apps we use can seem like a boon and to a great extent, they indeed are. After all, didn’t you discover your favourite thrift shop, books, and even food on the ‘gram? But these platforms also feed you highly edited, unrealistic content that only amplifies the gap between what you or your life could be versus what it could be. Which of course, does not help your mental health.
Things are changing
In Norway, influencers are required to add a disclaimer to their social media posts if they have retouched their photos while posting paid content. This new legislation applies to popular platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat, and those found flouting the legislation will be fined and jailed. This move aims to raise awareness in people that what you see on social media can be very filtered and well-curated and it isn’t how people necessarily appear in real life.
From erasing acne to airbrushing your armpits, there are innumerable ways to edit your visual content and make it fit into society’s mould. But, through all the toxic content that is being sent our way, there are a bunch of individuals who are doing their best to highlight what #reallife looks like. Here are some beauty and body stereotype-bashing people who make social media a more inclusive space…
Recently, singer Demi Lovato took to social media to remind their followers that everything you see online isn’t real. In the video, they spoke about Instagram’s face-altering filters that are extremely unrealistic and possibly damaging to the mental health of young teens. The star also dropped a quick note on their video to mention how the filter smoothened their skin, make their eyes appear larger and made her nose smaller, all in a jiffy.
As Instagram gains widespread popularity, beauty standards soar even higher. It is influencers like UK-based Sasha Pallari—who started the hashtag #FilterDrop on her Instagram account back in June 2020—that help us realise how damaging filters can be to our well-being. The model began this movement when she realised how dependant she was on filters to look ‘good.’ And then one day she realised how different her natural skin—with texture, pores, and all—looked. Her point behind this movement? It shouldn’t take filters to make us feel good about ourselves. Last year, Pallari celebrated a landmark ruling from Advertising Standards Authority (UK) that declared that filters shouldn’t be used in paid ads and sponsored content as they can be misleading.
One of the most nuanced beauty creators in India, Shreya Jain is known for her non-biased reviews on products and her out-of-the-box content ideas. She doesn’t use filters on any of the content on her social media handles and instead, often makes it a point to remind her followers: Pores are human. Acne is human. Body hair is human. All of it is normal.