There’s been a lot of talk online lately about how toxic Instagram filters can be, especially for young people. When you can click a button and see what needs to change on your face for you to be “beautiful,” what kind of damage can that cause your self-esteem?
In my 27 years of life, I’ve had a chaotic relationship with my self-esteem, I think like most women have. My biggest insecurity has been my struggle with acne. For years, I always wore my glasses and kept my hair down to “hide” my face. When I had a particularly bad breakout, I struggled to look people in the eye. As an adult, I’ve found more peace with myself. I recognize that my skin woes don’t negate my beauty, or even make me “ugly,” as was my fear in my youth. Acne is just part of my face. It’s fine.
But as much as I’ve grown and learned to accept myself, anytime I use a skin-smoothing filter on Instagram, I get an icky feeling in my stomach, a longing to truly have that flawless face staring up at me from my phone screen. Except I can never have that face. It isn’t real.
I use a filter that plumps your lips and wonder if I should get lip injections. I see my nose thinned down, and wonder if maybe one day I’ll “fix” that too. I think about eyelash extensions and Botox, all the money I could and maybe should spend so that I can be more beautiful.
The thing is, though, I like my face. I like that I have the same mouth as my mother and my grandmother, and the strong nose that my dad and all his siblings share. I like my blonde hair, and don’t even mind that much that it means I have really light eyelashes, too. I really support cosmetic surgery and procedures, and might even do them myself one day. But I really don’t like that some silly little filter on a silly little app is what is making me consider them.
I think filters can be fun, but I think of my young teenage self, and how much seeing this “better” version of her face every day would have hurt her. I’m not sure what the answer is, other than continuing to push for and to create unfiltered media, too.
Are filters really that bad? I’d love to hear your thoughts below, and how they’ve influenced your self-perception too.
Lots of love,