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Beauty filters and how they enforce western beauty standards

Beauty filters and how they enforce western beauty standards

Clear skin, plump lips, rosy cheeks, cute freckles, long lashes, and tinted eyes. All these are common qualities featured in social media filters. Ever since 2015, the introduction of Snapchat filters changed the way many view themselves. Although the idea of beauty filters seems harmless by making it look like you’ve just done your makeup, using filters becomes second nature to the point where you may not even recognize yourself without the filter. After a while it begins to greatly impact your mental health and enforces western beauty standards.

As of January 2022, the most popular social media platforms are as follows: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and Tik Tok. Out of six of these platforms, four of them enforce the western beauty standards through aesthetics and countless filters that restructure a person’s face. Many social media platforms have been accused of enforcing western beauty standards in their filters and through popular influencers. Many users on these social media platforms tend to be young teenagers, in which their social identity is still developing, meaning they look up to these influencers. As a result, users on the multiple platforms end up finding themselves comparing their own features to those of influencers and those that the filters place on them.

Along with shifting facial features, social media filters also encourage eating disorders and enforce body dysmorphia. With a new term tilted “Snapchat Dysmorphia,” generation z has entered into an era where a selfie has to be perfect. An era in which your skin needs to be flawless, your makeup looks good, and your face looks slimmer. These filters have gone from the palm of your hand into the pal of a surgeon’s. In 2017, 55 percent of plastic surgery patients have reported that their cosmetic procedures are for social media. Just by posting a picture that receives many likes and comments can enforce an alteration in the perception of beauty. This allows people to think that it is okay to change their appearance for others' pleasure, when in actuality you should only be doing it for yours.

Since the rise of social media, the depression rate has increased by 22 percent, which is double that the previous generation, and teen suicide has along increased 20 percent. Although there is no biological reasoning for the increasing rates in depression and suicide, it is clear that there is a strong correlation between it and social media’s beauty standards. The constant engagement with smartphones and social media filters that continue to enforce body dysmorphia, Eurocentric beauty standards, and discourage the idea of a “bare face.”

Recently, there has been movement to recover from the “harmless” filters. Celebrities and influencers on social media have been advocating for a change in the restricting beauty filters and standards that social media holds against its users. Popular artist, Lizzo states that there is a digital pressure to show a distorted, unnatural version of ourselves. This reinforces the idea that our natural beauty is not good enough or not worth the likes. Lizzo then celebrated a campaign launch for Dove’s Confidence Kit by posting an unfiltered, unedited nude selfie on Instagram, stating that “Normally I would fix my belly and smooth my skin but baby I wanted show u how I do it au natural.”

As many are working to reverse the negative side effects of social media and working to change the conversation around the Eurocentric beauty standards, it is important to remember that most of social media is not real. There will always be photoshopped posts and beauty filters that make you seem unreal. As we emerge from the pandemic, finally leaving our house without a mask or filter to hide behind, we will all begin to be reminded about the different kinds of physical features there are, not just Eurocentric ones, and that's what makes a person beautiful and natural.

Research by Kelly Zarate

Editor - Priyam Kusundal

Graphics - Nicole Watts and Jhem Picache

Illustrator - Abi Olsie






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