I love a bit of Snapchat, I’m on it a lot of the time and it’s a bit of ritual for me to see what new filters they are gracing my face with each day. But lately I have started to question some of the filters and how they may be influencing children and young people’s idea of beauty, in turn having a negative effect on self-image.
The "Beauty" Filter
For example, the filter aptly named “beauty filter” does a few things to my face; firstly, it evens out my skin, removing any blemishes, freckles and lines. It slims my nose, makes by eyes wider and shinier, & slims my face. I like it, it makes me look better, but why does being beautiful mean I have to have a slimmer face, bigger eyes and all the rest? We all do things to improve our appearance, filters and photo editing are just another adage to that. My issue is not that the filter is there but that it is being promoted as “beauty”.
I’m not the first to point it out and I doubt I will be the last, for 420* Snapchat created a Bob Marley filter that got highly criticised for not only “blacking up” people’s faces but also implying that perhaps all he did was get stoned. I can understand peoples upset by this apparent show of ignorance but I think that’s all it really was, and can be forgiven as just that.
The flower head garland filter however, popular amongst girls for making them prettier does actually make me whiter (I didn’t even know that was possible!!). Sure, I look pretty with my flowers in my hair but again, I’m whiter, my eyes are bigger and face is thinner, & that makes me uncomfortable!
If you flick through my profile pics on Facebook, an old picture is actually me with the flower garland filter, I love that picture, but that’s just one of my pictures. I was having this conversation with a colleague and she was telling me about a friend’s 14 year old daughter. She looked on her Facebook and thought “how has her face changed so much?”, flicking through her profile pictures she noticed that all had some sort of Snapchat “beautifying” filter whacked on, and looking at some of her friends pictures it seemed this was a popular theme.
Editing Ourselves to be Desirable
Snapchat is only giving us what we want and it’s just a sad reflection of today, our society is teaching us to edit ourselves to be desirable, and that is damaging to our mental health. We do not need to look like societies definition of flawless. But rather than slam Snapchat I want us all to take the blame, we all buy into it, promote and use beauty ideals to our advantage.
I don’t mean, never use a filter again. Like I said it’s only another adage to our already long list of products and services to make you look more beautiful. What I am saying is we need to let our children know that they are beautiful just the way they are. Yes it’s fun to see what you look like with different features, and isn’t technology great, but you are lovely just as you.
I guess it’s a similar conversation my mum would have had with me about make-up; it’s a nice thing, its fun to put on and you can really highlight some of your natural features. But, you don’t want to wear it every day, it blocks your pores and gives you spots. And if you are wearing it every day, make sure you are wearing it for you!