North Texas Daily

Photo filters are doing more harm than you know

Photo filters are doing more harm than you know

Photo filters are doing more harm than you know
September 30
14:00 2021

Social media has shown to be linked to depression and lower self-esteem due to people comparing their lives and appearances with other users. But now, photo filters are fueling users’ discontentment with how they look too.

Applications like Snapchat and Instagram provide photo filters that can dramatically alter a person’s face. They tend to smooth their facial imperfections, plump lips and sharpen jawlines. This changes the user’s perception of what they think they look like, beginning to associate with their edited self more than with what they see in the mirror. 

Users then start to view their natural faces as weird or ugly, becoming dependent on filters in order to look a certain way. In order to achieve this look outside of their phone screen, some have even turned to cosmetic surgery

It is not a recent trend for people to worry about how they look — beauty standards have been around long before social media and photo filters. What makes this wave different is the role that social media plays in it. The internet is so permeated by these new beauty standards even non-celebrities feel pressured to look flawless.

Body dysmorphia or body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental illness where a person becomes fixated on small flaws in their appearance. They may constantly check themselves in the mirror and compare themselves to others. There is no concrete evidence of what causes BDD but there are factors that can make it worse.

It is no surprise that there is a connection between photo filters and growing dissatisfaction among social media users. They are trying to make that unreachable version of themselves a reality. Users start forming insecurities they only realized after using social media, even if they felt fine about how they looked beforehand.

Apps like Facetune have made it easier for users to edit their appearances, according to a report done by Vox.  Unlike Photoshop, which is considerably more complicated, users can smooth their skin and reshape their bodies with no hassle.

This occurrence has been studied by researchers for the past few years but the solution is not easy to pin down. Editing selfies has become normal. A search for Facetune on YouTube will bring up dozens of tutorials on how to master the editing app.

This is no longer a topic of unrealistic standards set by celebrities who are known to possess resources that can make them look flawless. Now users are compelled to use filters and edit their photos for the approval of their peers on social media.

Although this seems to be an online issue, its effects are pervading the real world. But because of how ingrained social media is in our current society, it feels like there is no escape.

The greatest tool against this barrage of filtered photos is for people to inform themselves about what is causing their distress. By knowing that most photos online are doctored and how camera angles affect how we look, users will be able to overcome insecurities brought on by social media.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Arelys Morales Conty

Arelys Morales Conty

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