Skin Beyond Filters

A social media craze

What if we installed Instagram filters straight into our eyes, so we could pick and choose our looks on a daily basis, depending on our mood. Imagine women over 70 with poreless skin, gigantic pouts and chiseled cheekbones, 12-year-old girls with Kardashian curves and bald, fat men with Brad Pitt abs. In this utterly sad, monotonous world, we’d assemble our looks from ready templates depending on our financial resources. The high-resolution features would cost more, with the best versions reserved for billionaire types. 

Sound familiar?

I got caught up in the game of filters recently. Admittedly, as enchanted as I was by the look of my plumped-up, luminous skin and full lips, my joy turned out to be rather short-lived. Like Cinderella in the midnight hour, I felt the ruthless call of reality whenever the filter faded. Without the magic effects my real skin seemed shrunken and my face — old and tired-looking. Was I deluded into thinking I had a healthy self-image? 

If you like to believe you’ve accepted yourself, flaws and all, filters will bless you with doubt. It’s impossible to keep up with the filter, to defeat it. No matter what you treat your skin with and how okay you think you look, the filter will always outshine you. 

Filter is pure evil, a wolf in sheep’s disguise; don’t let its cute facade fool you into thinking otherwise. If dysmorphic and eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia have exploded in the photoshop generation, imagine the level of toxicity the Instagram and Tiktok age group is exposed to. Filters have cemented their place in the lives of children, especially girls, from an increasingly young age. With the aggressive proliferation of artificial imagery in our everyday lives, the border between real and virtual gets thinner every day. 

Social Media feeds the plastic surgery industry like no other. The two are united in a symbiotic relationship, fanning each other’s fire with unmatched zeal. Despite the rising popularity of fat acceptance and body positivity movements, at no point in the past have the beauty standards been as strict as today. Curviness seems to be “in”, but heaven forbid the appearance of cellulite or other full body markers. Voluptuousness is pardonable only in the right places, with the right textures. 

I overheard a peculiar conversation on the radio the other day. The show’s main theme was devoted to the topic of cosmetic fillers and COVID-19 jabs, exploring a supposed conflict between the two procedures. The guest, a dermatologist, urged the listeners to follow a two-week waiting period between injecting fillers and getting the coronavirus vaccine. The show host adamantly urged its audience to “beautify themselves as soon as possible,” with a self-assured tone. If “beautifying” oneself presupposed a facial and a manicure in the past, today the notion costs us endless money, endurance and time. Botox, lasers, injections of myriad substances, blood included, is the new norm, while the standard age for undertaking such procedures is steadily getting younger. 

Even our judgements have a harsher sting. We treat a wrinkle as horrifying malaise to be avoided at all costs. As filter invades our everyday lives, it imposes its uniform standards against which none of us is completely immune. If a photoshopped model from the 90-s exuded ideal, unattainable beauty, the filter fools us into believing perfection is only enough filler jabs away. 

All of this is so boring and painful, literally and figuratively, when in reality we’re all drawn to that shine from within. 

There’s no shame in seeking beauty and taking care of ourselves. In fact, a joyous self-care routine is our right, not privilege, as it can soothe our mind and body, uplift our mood and boost our general sense of well-being. Nonetheless, in a world of filters, we need to be extra conscious and careful so that our quest towards perfection doesn’t turn into mania. The threat is real, more so than ever before. 

Author: Eka Lolashvili | Photo Credit: Joel Naren, Unsplashed

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