Filters & Editing

The concept of taking selfies was a trend that was established by celebrities as a means to interact with fans on various social media platforms [1]. In the past, only directors and editors of magazines had the tools to edit and alter images of celebrities or models. With modern advancements in technology, it is no surprise that beauty can be enhanced digitally as well through the use of filters and apps. Social media platforms that are primarily photo based such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat are some of the most ideal platforms for the use of filters and editing [1]. The practice of editing photos of one’s self in order to seem more beautiful is detrimental in the sense that women feel less confident about their natural appearances.

Snapchat beauty filter

There are certain beauty filters available for use on platforms such as Instagram or Snapchat that enhance one's features by giving them longer eyelashes, lighter skin, or even slimmer faces. Women who use these filters may not realize that they are conforming to unrealistic beauty standards. This is because these digital enhancements often reflect prominent features of famed social influencers and celebrities, who have likely achieved those features through drastic means such as cosmetic surgery. In fact, many women who have seeked cosmetic surgery have shown their surgeons digitally enhanced photos of themselves using filters and editing apps as a reference to their desired procedures [2]. Apps like FaceTune have gained prominence and reputability for its beauty enhancement features. About ninety-five percent of the Instagram users with the largest followings use FaceTune to enhance their images prior to posting it [3]. These digital modifications include covering blemishes, erasing wrinkles, plumping lips, and brightening the eyes. Certain beauty features such as cat-like eyes, long lashes, and plump lips are promoted by famous social media influencers and celebrities, and thus are seen in many filters and editing tools. 

Since social media platforms are user based, there is this culture of receiving likes, comments, and followers from other users. This ties back to the idea of validation and it being determined by one's presence on social media. In addition to its convenience and availability on many social media platforms, editing and using filters allows a woman to enhance and retouch themselves virtually at a much less cost compared to fillers or cosmetic surgery. In modern society where engaging in digital media is a part of nearly every woman’s life, there is this expectation that one should always be “camera ready” [4]. This concept conveys that a woman is constantly being judged and based on her appearance in comparison to others on social media.

[1] Stenberg, Shari J., and Charlotte Hogg. "Karin Hitselberger." In Persuasive Acts: Women's Rhetorics in the Twenty-First Century, 434-38. Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020. Accessed October 13, 2020. doi:10.2307/j.ctvwrm691.79.

[2] Willingham, AJ. "Social Media Filters Mess with Our Perceptions So Much, There's Now a Name for It." CNN. Last modified August 10, 2018.

[3] Tolentino, Jia. "The Age of Instagram Face." The New Yorker. Last modified December 12, 2019.

[4] Widdows, Heather. "Life Is One Long Catwalk." In Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal, 50-69. PRINCETON; OXFORD: Princeton University Press, 2018. Accessed November 2, 2020. doi:10.2307/j.ctvc77j2q.6.

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