Since Snapchat blew everyone away almost a decade ago with their groundbreaking augmented reality face filters, several social media apps have followed suit. These facial filters alter your appearance to look like anything (or anyone) you could dream of. From a dog to a comic book character, AR filters have changed the game when it comes to social media.
TikTok has been running the game lately when it comes to these filters, and while some trends are nostalgic and fun (see: teenage filter), TikTok’s latest beauty-centric filter is taking things to an entirely different level. And not in a good way.
The Bold Glamour filter on TikTok — which has been used almost 7 million times — is so realistic that it captures the entire face, remaining flawless even when you wipe your hand across your face or touch your eyebrows. The filter makes you “beautiful” by general beauty standards with bigger lips, glam makeup, and a more defined jawline.
Several TikTok users who have experimented with the filter are noticing that while, sure, it makes you look great, that could come with some devastating consequences, especially for young women who already feel an insurmountable amount of pressure to look a certain way.
More: Why You’ll Never See Me Use A Beauty Filter
Australian mom and former reality TV star Zoe George — aka @zoe_george_ on TikTok — posted a video of herself with the “Bold Glamour” filter on while explaining how toxic it really is.
“Okay, so there’s this new filter on TikTok and it’s perfect. Look at it,” she says while holding her hand up to her eye.
“If you were to do that with an old filter, you’d see the lashes through my hand, like it would glitch,” she says as she demonstrates and rubs her hand all over her face. “I’m wearing no makeup right now. This is all a filter.”
She then notes that a non-TikTok user or someone not familiar with the “Bold Glamour” filter, it could be assumed that George truly looks like this.
“It’s just scary because there’s a lot of girls out there who don’t realize when someone’s got a filter on, and they’re chasing perfection because they think that’s what everybody looks like. And this is not what people look like,” she says.
She captioned the video, “Filters like this help set unrealistic standards of beauty on the youth of today. Some filters are a bit of fun I get it, but we mustn’t forget natural beauty too. Let’s not lose sight of reality.”
George is not the only user to find this filter alarming. Joanna Kenny warned her followers to not even attempt to use the new TikTok filter because she believes it does way more harm than good.
“I don’t look anything like this, but the filter itself looks natural,” she says while using the viral filter in the video.
She then goes on to explain that she’s seen several videos of people using the filter and then taking it off to show what they actually look like, noting that — in her opinion — these users look more or less the same.
“I’ve done a lot of work to unlearn that I owe prettiness to anyone,” she explained.
However, being her own worst critic, she admits she “felt uglier” when she took off the filter. “I don’t think my brain knows how to deal with look like this one minute, and then this the next,” she said as she showed the face with the TikTok filter on and then off.
“So here’s a reminder for anyone who needs it,” she said. “Filtered skin is not a skin type, and we’re already the perfect edit.”
The more realistic these filters become, the more common it will be to scroll the internet and see video after video of seemingly perfect-looking people with flawless skin, shiny white teeth, and not a brow hair out of place. What good does that do anyone’s self esteem and worth, especially young girls?
U.S. teens spend more than eight hours a day on screens. That is a lot of time for an impressionable teen girl to spend comparing her body and face to someone else’s — and those comparisons might be to pictures that aren’t even real.
“These filters can have a detrimental effect on their mental health. This is due to the discrepancy between one’s filtered and unfiltered appearance, which can create a sense of inadequacy and promote unrealistic beauty standards. It can also lead to low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, and even depression or anxiety,” Lisa Lawless, Ph.D. and CEO at Holistic Wisdom, Inc., tells Scary Mommy.
According to recent CDC findings, the mental health of young girls is in a more fragile state now more than ever.
In 2021, 3 in 5 girls felt persistently sad and hopeless, a marker for depressive symptoms, up nearly 60% from 2011.
According to the same report, more than 1 in 4 girls reported they seriously considered attempting suicide in 2021, up nearly 60% from 2011. More than 1 in 10 girls reported they attempted suicide in 2021, up 30% from a decade ago.
“It’s important to encourage young girls to focus on their internal beauty and strengths rather than their external appearance and beyond the patriarchal male gaze. By emphasizing self care, love, and acceptance, we can help them build strong self-esteem and combat the negative effects of beauty standards,” Lawless continued.
Another hack for helping teen girls not feel so sh—ty about their appearance compared to people using fake filters? Get them the hell off of social media.
A new study by the American Psychological Association showed proof that when teenagers cut back on their social media consumption, they seem to feel better about themselves.
Half of the participants were asked to reduce their social media to 60 minutes a day for three weeks. The other half continued to use social media with no restrictions, which averaged about three hours per day.
The researchers gave the participants surveys at the beginning and end of the study, that included statements such as “I’m pretty happy about the way I look,” and “I am satisfied with my weight.”
The group that cut social media use’s overall score on appearance improved from 2.95 to 3.15 on a 5-point scale. While that may seem like a small change, researchers noted that any sort of upward shift in such a short period of time is significant.
There is no stopping the progression of augmented reality and facial filters that literally make you look like Bella Hadid, so maybe purging (or at least limiting) social media could be the next best thing.