Filters on social media have become so commonplace these days. It can even be difficult to clock when someone is using a filter or remember what “real” faces and bodies look like. In fact, filters are so commonplace that TikTok occasionally automatically applies certain filters — like teeth whitening and skin smoothing — as one influencer was shocked to discover.
Social media filters that alter people’s appearances have long been a concern for mental health experts. A study review from 2016 found a connection between filters and a distorted body image view. And filters have only become more sophisticated and commonplace since then.
In an effort to perhaps combat the potential negative mental and physical impacts of filters — or just as a move towards authenticity — some TikTokers are choosing to show their appearances filter-free.
For instance, Izzie Rodgers (@izzierodgers_), a body and skin positivity TikToker with 150,000 followers, recently posted a video displaying her face with a filter — and then suddenly without.
In her video, Rodgers uses a trending TikTok sound of comedian Philomena Cunk from the 2022 series Cunk On Earth. In it, Cunk states a fact casually, then contradicts it entirely — something Rodgers imitates as she removes her filter.
“It’s hard to believe I can look this perfect,” Rodgers’ video reads, “Because I’m not. It’s a filter.”
Rodgers isn’t the only influencer hopping on the real-face trend. Nurse injector Miranda “Mimi” Webb (@missmimiwebb) also posted a video detailing her face in various stages of influencer “modes.” She included a full-glam filter with a ring light, a softer filter with just a ring light, and finally, in its full, no-makeup at all, allergic-reaction glory.
Lizzy Turner (@elizabethkayeturner) has even made it her mission to show what a filter-free reality looks like. She’s started dedicating her entire TikTok to all “real skin, no filter” videos. She posts videos of what makeup application looks like without any filters and frequently posts side-by-side comparison videos showing makeup with and without a filter.
“I really appreciate your honesty,” said @renfc9.
“This helped sm u don’t even know,” added @drownmeinliptontea.
The impacts of filters on humans are still being uncovered. For instance, a 2022 study described how filters on Snapchat can produce “larger eyes, bigger lips, more angular jawlines, whiter teeth, and slimmer faces.” And all of these may be perceived as someone’s real appearance, especially among young people who never see the user in real life.
The study concluded that while more research is needed, “appearance anxiety” associated with filters is a real risk. It can especially affect adolescents who identify as female.
Commenters also seemed to express that even though they know filters are commonplace on social, there’s still something about seeing the stark contrast that provides a much-needed reality check.
“Thank u so much,” @alice.wonderland04 wrote under one of Turner’s videos. “I know theres always a filter but seeing it that way is very helpful.”
“I always thought I was doing something wrong…I thought it was real omg lol,” added @..cq.ll.
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