It all began with me simply trying out an Instagram filter. I’d seen it morph a few friends’ faces on their stories and wondered what it’d do to mine. Innocent curiosity.
But now it has a tight grip on me than ever. One made my nose smaller, another smoothed out my skin and widened my eyes, but my favourite filter enlarged my lips, but not too much. Giving me the perfect pout (sending my DMs into a frenzy). The narcissist in me jolted with joy with every notification that came through. The dopamine was too addictive.
All of the sudden, the idea of plastic surgery didn’t seem so out of the question, despite the fact that I (just a few months prior) wrote a piece on how people are getting surgery to look like Snapchat filters – an article that was actually meant to serve as a warning.
But these were Instagram filters. And in a pool of thousands of filters, the ones imitating plastic surgery are ruling the game. But unlike the heavily Facetuned photos of your favourite influencers, IG filters aren’t there to deceive the viewer. They’re explicit, both in their exaggerated design and the way they’re shared (stories are marked with the name of the filter at the top of screen). Thus declaring that Instagram is not only encouraging us to morph ourselves in to exaggerated, doe-eyed, big lipped Bratz dolls, but it’s also pushing us to be transparent about it. Share it. And own it.
It’s might true that everyone has a weird obsession (or at the very least a curiosity) with plastic surgery. Just see the countless IG profiles of plastic surgeons that have amassed thousands of followers. But coupled with the fact that social media has been proven to change self-perceptions, we might have entered a dangerous game. Filtered selfies have been proven to blur the line between fake and reality, and patients are increasingly using their own filtered photos in their consultations with plastic surgeons.
As one plastic surgeon put it in an interview with The Independent: “Patients using pictures of celebrities or Snapchat-filtered versions of themselves as reference points is okay. The danger is when this is not just a reference point, but it becomes how the patient sees themselves, or the patient wants to look exactly like that image.”