Instagram Versus Reality: The Consequences of Beauty Filters

Illustrated by Grace Park

Janice Luong

Opinions Editor

Beauty filters have existed for a while now, but I only recently noticed people criticizing the kinds of filters that are used across social media platforms. I’m not talking about the filters that give you puppy ears and a puppy nose – I’m talking about the beauty filters that slim your face, make your skin appear textureless, widen your eyes; the ones that can change the way one looks entirely. Oftentimes, this entails a whiter skin tone, bigger eyes, a smaller nose, and a smaller face. 

These filters become more damaging as technology advances and more people have trouble discerning what is real and what isn’t. It is even more damaging considering how these filters have wide usage but do not promote a diverse look of beauty. It’s a homogenous portrayal of what beauty looks like, and that’s why we ought to be critical of these filters. 

Women are already highly criticized based on their physical features in society, and although these filters were designed for fun, we can’t ignore the unintended consequences. People may say “lighten up” or “no need to take it so seriously,” but those statements neglect the negative effects these filters can have on mental health for those who are insecure and easily influenced by social media. 

When a filter changes a woman’s face entirely while claiming to be a “beauty filter,” it essentially communicates that in order to be beautiful, you should dramatically alter your appearance. 

However, I am glad to see people increasingly aware of this issue, and they’re calling it out by comparing their non-filtered face with their filtered face. Hopefully, the filter fad will phase out of public consciousness as quickly as it came into it – though it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. And even if that is the case, body dysmorphia and its lasting effects will outlive the fad of beauty filters. 

Filters are all fun and games until they begin to hurt people’s self-perceptions. It’s no longer just a filter: it’s a toxic social media phenomenon that promotes dysmorphia and discourages individuals from taking their beauty into their own hands. I hope that social media platforms develop tools that don’t solely embrace or embody one kind of beauty.