It is safe to say that the majority of humans in the current era have taken at least one selfie in their lifetime. Let’s all be honest, there is no such thing as just one selfie. Once you take one, you often find yourself changing faces, altering the lighting, or adjusting the camera angle, just to ensure that you get the “perfect” selfie. As if these photo tactics are not enough, people look to filters to enhance their selfie.
But, no, I am not referring to the different effects that one can apply to a photo after it has been taken. Instead, I am highlighting the animated filters that change your appearance prior to even taking the photo. Filters, such as dog ears and heart headbands, which are utilized in Snapchat, are what I am referring to. These filters intrigue their users who are too distracted by the alterations to recognize the harm that these filters are beginning to cause.
Right now, look at your own Snapchat if you have one. These filters often lighten one’s skin tone, reduce one’s blemishes, enlarge one’s eyes, enhance one’s eyelashes, and even alter one’s chin. The effect of the filters slip through the user’s consciousness and teaches them that the “perfect” selfie is only attainable if you look unnatural. These seemingly unharmful filters unconsciously reinforce biases within users. Some of these biases include, lighter skin is more desired, flawless skin is one with no marks, eyes are more attractive when they are larger, makeup including fake eyelashes is needed to make one pretty, and a petite jawline is more fitting. Disguising biases and encouragement of unattainable “beauty” is hidden behind what many see as a harmless, playful, and cute animated bunny filter that helps them attain the “perfect” selfie. Over time, users begin to rely on the filters because they even begin to feel uncomfortable, naked, exposed, uninteresting, and/or unattractive without them. The filters diminish a person’s confidence in themselves and reinforce biases that incorrectly shape “beauty.”