Snapchat filters: Filtering 'Flaws' and Forging Ideals | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Snapchat filters: Filtering ‘Flaws’ and Forging Ideals

Deputy Editor Imogen Lancaster explores why Snapchat filters may not be completely harmless

Today’s society is relatively well-versed in and fully aware of photoshopping of models in magazines, the exclusive body shape of the Victoria’s Secret models that frequent the runways, and the slim-line figures of mannequins that we encounter in high-street stores. All of these outlets subtly shape our perception of the ideal woman and have gained much media attention because of it.

Having a filter slapped over our face may have subtle detrimental effects on our self-esteem

However, a relatively recent form of influence includes the likes of Snapchat filters. I am not referring to the dog filters or multitude of other creatures, objects and face-deforming filters that we come across when flicking through the app. I am, however, referring to ‘beauty-enhancing’ settings that we are all openly (at least initially) in favour of.

A large majority of the population are very much impartial to a Snapchat selfie, myself included. And although at surface-level they are seemingly harmless, having a filter slapped over our face may have subtle detrimental effects on our self-esteem. When you sit back and contemplate the whole concept of it, you begin to question the impact it could have on the self-image of women worldwide. And not only that, but is it influencing our impression of ideal characteristics?

Let me explain. Many of us are aware of the recent filter crazes including the flower halo, which simultaneously brightens and whitens your portrait and leaves your eyes a glossy shade of blue. Shortly after this filter graced its presence, it spread everywhere over social media. Indeed it is no longer Snapchat-exclusive, but frequently features as Facebook and Twitter profile pictures and in Instagram posts. Snapchat users undeniably love this filtered version of themselves to the extent that it features as a permanent filter on the app. Likewise, Snapchat progressed to introduce the similarly popular ‘golden halo’ look, among countless other ‘beautifying’ filters.

Our generation is therefore constantly encountering an array of ‘beauty-enhancing’ filters. Some of which immediately banish or severely minimise any remnants of blemishes or acne; creating the impression of flawless skin. Other filters automatically make you over by giving you a bold red lip, eye shadow and long, volumised lashes. Some leave your teeth bright white, give you a glowing tan, change your eye colour, enlarge your eyes and thin your nose. The list goes on. And whilst we may enjoy the fact we do not require a full face of makeup to send an 'attractive' snap, Snapchat is further exaggerating the importance of makeup and subtly reinforces what are deemed ‘attractive’ features. Indeed, changing our skin colour and nose shape is a step too far, especially considering the fact that these are unattainable traits. This also leads us to question the ‘beauty’ settings on modern cameras, which remove blemishes and freckles, and makes us doubt our natural features to the extent that our filtered selves become our preferred selves.

Perhaps the majority do not look this far into something we deem so trivial and harmless. However, the fact that it is conforming to and confirming traditional beauty stereotypes is implying that our natural selves do not reach the threshold of beauty and that only certain features are considered attractive.

I am by no means attempting to dissuade you from using Snapchat filters. In fact, Snapchat most likely designed these filters with the innocent intention of being fun and games. But it is important to recognise that these are illusions of beauty that should not influence one’s own perception of self-worth and body positivity. However cliché it may appear, we should celebrate diversity and every ‘flaw’ we have. What would the world be if we all possessed the same glowing skin and glossy, blue eyes? So try not to get swept up in the falsity of the potentially-damaging Snapchat filter illusion and appreciate your filter-less self in all its glory!

Current Life&Style Online Editor, Former Deputy Editor 2016/17, writer for Life&Style, Travel and News. Third year English Language student on year abroad in Canada!


24th January 2017 at 9:00 am

Images from

Pixabay and Imogen Lancaster