People on social media are always looking for the perfect beauty filter for Instagram, one that softens skin, whitens teeth, and generally improves their appearance on their Instagram story. In this online airbrushed environment, everyone now has access to their own virtual plastic surgeon. And with Botox and less invasive fillers becoming less and less expensive, it's not just celebrities and retirees looking for young people getting that “better me” anymore; it's also rich millennials and Gen Z members too. Using and viewing a filter intended to make you look prettier has the potential to be detrimental to any user's self-image.
Most beauty filters use something called deep learning, in which a computer is trained to recognize facial features from photographs of real faces. After a while, using filters in videos became natural, until one day she saw herself in the mirror and realized, to her horror, that she no longer recognized her own face. If TikTok filters use a similar learning process, it's the company's responsibility to ensure that the computer is trained on a diverse set of faces. However, there has been a lot of talk about whether or not some of these filters promote unrealistic beauty standards and now there is a new filter that is breaking the Internet.
The people behind TikTok (or Instagram or Snapchat) filters have a responsibility to create them for each audience. The second was mostly women of color, either disappointed that the popular filter didn't really work on their faces, or protesting the Eurocentric beauty standards the filter upholds. The 29-year-old has struggled with body dysmorphia for many years but says she never noticed her lips until she started using beautifying filters for every Snapchat and Instagram photo she took. Users will set Beyonce — Countdown as the audio, and as she counts she will apply the filter over and over again until you literally see yourself fresh out of a very photoshopped magazine session.
But images can still be edited externally and reloading them into the app's tag filters or deleting them all together doesn't seem to be enough to slow down the search for perfection. It's no surprise, then, that the rise of facial filters and editing applications has been correlated with the increase in cosmetic surgeries. But even for those not looking for cosmetic adjustments, using face filters and editing apps can have serious health consequences. Snapchat has no specific restrictions on altering or embellishing filters sent by users through the platform's “Lens Lab”, but a company spokesman says the app's focus on private, rather than public, communication sets it apart from other social networks.
Recently, the No Beard filter went viral on TikTok, and soon after, the Pillow Face filter went viral on Instagram with celebrities even using it.