March 01, 2023
A beautifying filter has been going viral on TikTok, and some creators worry it may be contributing to unattainable beauty standards.
The "Bold Glamour" filter drastically alters users' appearances, chiseling jawlines and contouring cheekbones while darkening eyebrows. The effect has been used in 6.6 million videos so far, according to the mobile TikTok app.
Facial filters, which are interactive AI-programmed masks accessed using a phone’s camera, have been utilized on social media apps since 2015. As years have passed, the filters have evolved from simple cartoon dog ears to intricate airbrushed makeup. The Bold Glamour filter differentiates itself from even the most modern filters in its ability to expertly move with the face in real time.
"This filter has to be illegal," user @notsophiesilva writes over a video of herself, attempting to disrupt the filter with no luck.
WHY AM I SCARED♬ Boy's a liar Pt. 2 - PinkPantheress & Ice Spice
Unlike most filters, the Bold Glamour effect does not seem to glitch or get disrupted when a user puts a hand between their face and the camera. This aspect worries users, who wonder whether the lack of differentiation between real life and the screen could contribute to low self esteem or body dysmorphia.
"I don't look anything like this but the filter itself looks natural like there's some skin texture there," user @joannajkenny says in a TikTok during which she toggles the filter on and off. "I actually look ugly when I take this filter off. I've done a lot of work to unlearn that I owe prettiness to anyone. I don't think my brain knows how to deal with looking like this one minute (with the filter) and then this the next (without the filter)."
@joannajkenny DON’T USE THIS FILTER ⚠️ This is the viral filter everyone is using rn. Tell me honestly, have you ever not shown up irl because of how you’ve misrepresented yourself on social media? If so, you’re not alone ❤️🩹 You deserve to live a full and happy life without worrying about how you look doing it 💅 #poresnotflaws #boldglamour #beautystandards #beautystandardsarefake #bodyimagemovement #bodyimagehealing #joannakenny #toxicbeautystandards #skinconfidence #skinconfident #nofilterchallenge #fyp2023 ♬ original sound - Joanna Kenny
Criticism of the filter has even popped up on other platforms, with one Twitter user calling it “terrifyingly realistic” and "horrible."
This new TikTok filter is gaining a lot of attention for being “terrifyingly realistic.” These filters are horrible & give such a false sense of beauty. They make people feel less than, unworthy and the self loathing, immense. They should be illegal.— Breanna Brown (@thebreannabrown) February 26, 2023
You’re beautiful. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ZIbHIo1PvN
Effects of social media filters like Bold Glamour can travel offline, attacking users' real lives and mental health. Beauty filters tend to completely alter one's face, smoothing out pores and changing lip size and eye shape, which can make people feel dissatisfied with how they look unfiltered.
"Children and adults of all ages have confided in me and shared that they are ashamed of posting photographs of themselves without the use of filters," psychiatrist Dr. Leela R. Magavi told InStyle. "I have assessed some teenagers, men, and women who have discussed the idea of getting plastic surgery to look more like the filtered version of themselves."
Time spent on social media in general has been proven to exacerbate or trigger body image concerns. Professionals have even coined terms — "snapchat dysmorphia" and "selfie dysmorphia" — to describe patients' dissatisfaction with appearance caused by the use of filters and photo editing.
Despite the seriousness at hand, some users have been able to make light of the filter, poking fun at the way it causes people to look "yassified," or glamorized beyond recognition.
"He was feeling himself," user @mmmjoemele wrote with laughing emojis under a video of his dad admiring his appearance with the Bold Glamour filter.
Makeup artists, like @mikaylanogueira, have used the filter as inspiration to try out a new look.
Others have expressed nostalgia for simpler times and filters, like @somesinglemom, who writes, "Can we go back to the bunny filters."
Celebrities have even joined the discourse, with British singer Charli XCX donning the filter for a video captioned "Kharli Kardashian."
No matter how users decide to (or not to) use the filter, some creators are reminding people to embrace their real, unfiltered selves.
"I think that filters like this just push impressionable young girls that they need to look like this to be considered beautiful and that is so not the case," user @shoelover99 said. "This is me (without the filter), and me is okay because me is beautiful. ... And your you is okay. You don't have to look like that filter to be beautiful. You already are."