Generally, I'm content with my face. (One of the benefits of being in your late 40s is that you can fully accept your face for what it is.) But I was taken aback to find that the more I used the filter, the less my actual face seemed to be. There's simply no way for my true face to compete with the model-like one in the video, as this filter isn't just a phony makeup. It's almost like a combination of plastic surgery, botox and a Photoshop airbrush, and although it's so over the top, gazing into the mirror after creating the video did lead to some insecurities regarding my real face that I hadn't realized.
If I can be made to think my physical appearance is inadequate through a beauty filter, I can only imagine the psychological implications this may have on young women who have not yet had the opportunity to build self-esteem over the years.
In a Twitter thread, visual artist Memo Akten exposed the horrific power of these eerily genuine filters, providing evidence in the form of examples from women to reveal the psychological effects.
Women are voicing their concerns about the insecurity this hyper-real filter can cause, which only exacerbates the already existing issues of body image and beauty standards.
Video filters can be a great source of amusement for my teenagers and I, experimenting with Snapchat effects that make us resemble weeping individuals or cartoon characters and other crazy things. Nevertheless, this isn't one of those situations; this is completely embracing Kardashian-style beauty culture, creating an impression that meeting impossible beauty standards is achievable. Visuals are powerful, after all.
We are aware that it is only an impression. It is simply a veil. It is not a genuine reflection of ourselves. But this does not change how our minds interpret our filtered profiles, nor does it alter the tangible effects they have on our self-image.
Specialists have warned that augmented reality filters may have a negative influence over body image. According to the Harvard Business Review, "Appearance is a crucial factor in someone's identity, and it is necessary for psychological health. Investigations have demonstrated that digital alteration of physical traits can cause distress, body dysmorphic disorder, and occasionally even urge people to go through plastic surgery."
Over the years, the use of photo editing and filters has gone up, causing more harm than ever before. Whereas a change in lighting used to be enough to counter unflattering shadows, now filters can completely change a person's facial features and texture to give the impression of an advertisement.
For young women and girls who are only beginning to build their self-image, this is a very hazardous social experiment. Moms and dads, please converse with your children about the psychological repercussions filters like these can have, and maybe motivate them to opt for ones that change faces into horses or make flowers come out of their mouths. Those who benefit from women's insecurity won't magically become altruistic, so it is up to us all to make sure young people understand that filters are fake and their faces are just fine as is.