Opinions, Tech

Are Insta filters making the beauty standard whiter?

Plastic surgery filters…

words by: Jacob Seferian
Jan 24, 2020

Does something seem fishy about your timeline lately? Like all the women’s faces are beginning to blur together making it harder to tell them apart? You’re not sexist – well, maybe some of you are – there’s a growing concern that with the advent of face-altering apps and filters, the standard of beauty is narrowing.

In October of last year, Instagram promised to ban all filters which simulated plastic surgery effects. Features like “Fix Me” would superimpose markups so it looks as though you just came from a consultation with a surgeon – others filters digitally plump your lips and alter your eye shape to make it look as though you actually went through with it.



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by DANIEL MOONEY (@danielmooney) on


But as Jia Tolentino reported in a New Yorker article, the app only removed filters whose names directly referenced plastic surgery, like “Plastica.” Today, face altering filters which emulate cosmetic surgeon remain very popular on Instagram, leading to growing concerns that social media is homogenizing the beauty standard. Tolentino points out that these filters suggest “every American of the future [is] a direct descendant of Kim Kardashian West, Bella Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and Kendall Jenner.” It’s worth pointing out that all of these women are white.

With the thinning of the nose, the widening of the eye-shape –  what gets lost in these cosmetic “touch-ups”? Homogeneity often breeds racism and “ethic ambiguity” sounds (and looks) a lot more like ethnic erasure. Sometimes the messaging isn’t even subliminal: people have proven that certain Instagram and Snapchat filters literally whiten users skin.


Image via HuffPost/Shandukani Mulaudzi.


The more our lives become centered around posting photos, the more the concept of beauty becomes streamlined. The narrower the scope of “hot” gets, the harder it will be to appreciate our individual reflection.

What if young girls and boys aren’t selling what the culture-at-large is buying? They’re more likely to give the doctor a call. Ironically, the brain is the most influential filter of all.