Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Exploring the harmful impact of social media filters on body image

Most of us probably remember the dog filter on Snapchat. Back in those days, filters were nothing more than a bit of a laugh. However, since then, filters have evolved into something completely different.

Nowadays, it can be very hard to tell if someone is even using a filter. For this particular reason, influencers have been told to not use misleading beauty filters in their posts, particularly those promoting a skincare or makeup product.

Millions of people use social media such as Instagram every single day

The recent developments and the #Filterdrop campaign led to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling that filters should not be applied to social media adverts if they exaggerate the effect of the product. They claimed that the use of filters, especially on beauty content, can be misleading. If an influencer chooses to still use a filter when they promote beauty content, they must now declare this.

The filters that are causing the most harm are those which alter facial features. Having slightly larger eyes or slightly blurred skin may not sound like much, but unfortunately, it can lead us to believe a false sense of reality. This can cause a lot of self-confidence issues as you become so used to seeing picture-perfect celebs in images that do not reflect their natural appearance.

To many people, this whole debate of filter vs no filter may sound silly. However, I think that it is an extremely important conversation to be having. In the age of modern technology, millions of people use social media such as Instagram every single day.

The #Filterdrop campaign has definitely helped to raise awareness about the issues

So even if you personally do not care about filters or what they represent, there are definitely people who do. A lot of Instagram users are also teenagers who are still trying to discover their place in the world.

The founder of the #Filterdrop campaign, Sasha Pallari, set out with three key aims: to encourage as many women as possible to not depend on filters, for the ASA to demand that social media influencers and celebrities must state if they have used a filter when promoting cosmetics and to get face-changing and morphing filters removed from Instagram. She has now successfully achieved the first two aims.

The #Filterdrop campaign has definitely helped to raise awareness about the issues, with some celebrities also showing their support. The most recent of which was Jesy Nelson who said “I don’t understand why Instagram feels the need to squash your nose and make it really skinny. What’s wrong with a standard nose? I’m so confused why whoever makes these filters think that is what beauty is?”

It is becoming increasingly challenging to love yourself for how you look

However, there is still lots of work to be done until Instagram completely removes face-changing filters. I personally support the campaign and agree that such filters should be removed. Filters can be nice on occasion, like if you want to make your image black and white, but face morphing filters are a step too far.

In the age of photoshop and plastic surgery, it is becoming increasingly challenging to love yourself for how you look. Instagram filters are only making this worse. We should be encouraging everyone to love the skin they are in, not glamorising picture-perfect faces that simply aren’t real.

Everyone has the choice of what they do and upload on Instagram. I am by no means saying we should start shaming those who use filters. Instead, we should simply become more aware of this situation and ensure we don’t end up comparing ourselves to what we see. So next time you see someone flawless, just pause for a second to consider whether what you’re seeing is actually real.

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